Staff Spotlight: Debra Gibbs, J.D.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHello, I am Debra Gibbs. I am joining Elder Law of Michigan for 11 weeks as part of the Bridge to Practice program through Michigan State University College of Law. I grew up in a small town in Northeast Michigan, making me a little biased about which Great Lake I think is the best. I am a graduate of Albion College and MSU College of Law. This November, I became licensed to practice law in Michigan. When I’m not working, I like to spend my time outdoors, preferably hiking, canoeing, or camping.

What I Want to Learn at Elder Law of Michigan

  • I want to learn to how to relay information to clients in an informative and understandable manner. Additionally, I want to become better at knowing where I should look for certain information. I want to practice recognizing the different issues and areas of law at play in a client’s question as well as figure out how to put them all together to provide the most accurate advice. Finally, I want to gain confidence in providing legal advice.

Why I Want to Volunteer

  • One of the reasons I want to volunteer with Elder Law of Michigan is I greatly enjoyed my previous experience interning here. It was a welcoming environment that provided me with valuable learning experiences. I had wanted to volunteer again, but sadly my schedule did not allow it before I had this opportunity. By volunteering here, I am able to help people, while helping keep the law fresh in my mind as I decide what step I would next like to take in my career. Lastly, I want to volunteer here because my grandparents and their siblings have mentioned how hard it is to know who to ask their legal questions to, and Elder Law of Michigan is an organization that can provide them with someone to ask.

Surprises from Transitioning from Law School to Practice

  • One thing that has taken some getting used to is not already knowing the area of law you are about to be asked about. Unlike law school where you can prepare for a particular class and can have all the information on that area of law ready, in practice you cannot do the majority of your research until the client asks their questions and is waiting for what they hope is an immediate answer. I have had to start learning the questions to ask and how to ask them in order to get all of the information I need from the client to give informed and accurate advice because, unlike law school, the fact pattern with all of the relevant information is not already laid out for me.

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