This past Wednesday, right before class, I was called by one of my clients through the BU Civil Litigation Clinic. This client came to the clinic months ago looking for help keeping her state unemployment benefits. Her initial hearing went well back in July, but the employer appealed the decision and sought an administrative hearing before the Division of Unemployment Assistance. The last of three hours of hearings had finished just a few days earlier.
“We won!” she screamed into her phone. My client continued to talk about ecstatic and thankful she was, while I struggled to catch up. A number of questions ran through my mind. How did we get a decision so quickly? What did the decision say? Was there enough in the opinion to support another employer appeal? Not knowing what else to say, I thanked the client for her trust and told her I would call her next week with some information on what might be next for her.
Hours after our conversation, I thought about what really might be next for my client. She was still looking for a job. She had just gotten through a problem with overdue rent. There were a number of problems that my client still had that were extralegal but could be helped with legal assistance. And, the employer could still appeal the most recent DUA decision. My work for the client was far from over. And, my work for the clinic certainly wasn’t slowing down, as I received a file for my fourth client later that day.
Even so, I couldn’t help but feel more than a little proud at my first court victory. It might have been an administrative hearing, and my opponent might have had the burden of proof, and there might be thousands of unknown reasons not to be happy. But, for just a few minutes, I would enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that if I could do it once, I could do it again.