The Main Courtroom of the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals in Downtown Cleveland is a truly impressive place. With ornately carved woodwork, historical murals, exquisite chandeliers and magnificent high ceilings, the courtroom invokes a sense of history and gravitas. The atmosphere in such a courtroom can be daunting, even to an experienced attorney.
However in early January, Cleveland-Marshall Civil Litigation Clinic Student Elizabeth Bonham was right at home in the courtroom, as she presented oral argument to a panel of the Court of Appeals in an unemployment benefits appeal case represented by the Clinic.
“I was extremely nervous to argue that morning, as I wanted to do my best for my client and for my professors,” Bonham said. “I was lucky to argue second as the appellee. By the time opposing counsel had spoken, I felt more than ready to tell the bench how wrong he was.”
The third-year Cleveland-Marshall student appeared poised as she presented her case. Bonham, who was able to represent the Clinic client in court with a Legal Intern Certificate, delivered a well-prepared argument and flawlessly handled questions from the bench. The Court ultimately ruled in favor of Bonham’s client, affirming previous decisions secured from the state Unemployment Compensation Review Commission and the Court of Common Pleas.
Bonham’s day in court was the culmination of months of work in drafting a brief and practicing for the argument with Clinic Professors Kenneth Kowalski and Doron Kalir, and fellow Clinic student Christina Williams. Her semesters of Clinic experience helped her apply her classroom learning to the work of actual lawyers, and revealed this as an area of law she would like to pursue upon graduation.
“Memorizing the rules of evidence is not worth much if you don't know what to do after that,” Bonham said. “The clinic taught me how to apply this information. My experience here showed me what to pay attention to in the classroom, and what it could do for me in a courtroom.”