Clinic Spotlight - Michael Alires

Michael Alires' pictureIn his own words, Student Attorney Michael Alires spent the better part of his 1L and 2L years wondering if he could cut it as a lawyer. “It was not until my third year, after working in the Small Business and Nonprofit Clinic, when I rediscovered the reason I came to law school in the first place.”

With a Bachelors Degree in General Ministry and a Masters in Organizational Leadership, Michael came to Boyd with a passion to work with churches and nonprofits. He was excited to learn that one of his clients in the Clinic would be a local nonprofit seeking tax-exempt status to aid their fundraising efforts. As with many student attorneys, Michael’s first reaction was one of self-doubt – what did he know about IRS filings and tax law?

With the guidance of Professor Eric Franklin, who directs the Small Business Clinic, Michael discovered that he was able to identify relevant issues and develop answers to address them. “There were rocky moments,” Michael says, “when our client threw us curveballs, we knew how to provide answers or admit that we didn’t know the answer. The next time we met, though, we were ready to provide a response.”

For Michael, the highlight of his clinic experience came during his last client meeting of the semester, at a board of directors meeting for the non-profit he’d been advising. The board was voting to accept the amendments that he had made to their bylaws, and deciding which IRS tax forms to use. “My proudest moment came when I realized that I had explained the legal issues well enough to the chair that she was teaching the other directors about the relevant law.” At that moment, Michael felt confident as an attorney and knew he had empowered his client to make important decisions about her organization’s future.

Michael says, “The Small Business and Nonprofit Clinic prepared me for my next steps as a transactional attorney. I am grateful to utilize the knowledge I have gained in a real-life experiential setting. I am most grateful, however, that I now feel confident in my knowledge and abilities as a future lawyer.”