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Alumna Named Irmas Teaching Fellow
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Jean Lantz Reisz '05 finds her 'dream job'
Story and photo by Lori Craig
|Jean Lantz Reisz '05|
A former USC Gould clinical student returned to the law school this fall in a prestigious position as a clinical teaching fellow. Jean (Lantz) Reisz ’05 recently joined USC Gould as the Audrey Irmas Clinical Teaching Fellow, and will spend the next two years working with faculty and students in the Immigration Clinic and the Post-Conviction Justice Project.
“I think that clinical teaching is the best of both worlds — it’s my dream job,” said Reisz, who has extensive experience in both the public and private sectors. “I still get to provide direct services and go to court and represent clients, but I also get to teach students. I found the Immigration Clinic to be my favorite part of law school, and I’m excited to supervise students in becoming advocates, learning lawyering skills and representing clients.”
Reisz most recently worked with the Inner City Law Center. Before joining the agency, she spent three years as a senior associate with Archer Norris and five years with the Los Angeles Public Defender’s and Alternate Public Defender’s office.
"Jean has wide-ranging legal experience in criminal and civil law," said Immigration Clinic Director Niels Frenzen. "Her interest in clinical teaching and familiarity with the clinics will serve our students and clients well."
While a student at USC Gould, she joined the Immigration Clinic for the summer before her 2L year and spent the 2L academic year as a Clinical Course Student Supervisor. She says her experience with the clinic, in which students represent clients seeking asylum, gave her invaluable experience working with clients and engaging with expert witnesses, which served her in the Public Defender’s office and as a trial attorney.
Her clinic involvement also gave direction to her legal career.
“I realized, ‘This is what I want to do with my law degree,’” said Reisz, who as a 3L received the Mason C. Brown Award for Trial Advocacy. What most appealed to her was “being an advocate for people who really don’t have anyone to stand up for them.”
Reisz set out to fill that role as a deputy public defender, where she represented clients who often mistrusted anyone in authority — including Reisz.
“You really have to work at building a relationship,” Reisz said. “No matter what the client did or said to me, or how uncooperative they were, they still deserved the best defense I could provide I, which I think is a tremendous principle in our judicial system.”
Reisz recalled representing a client at trial who turned to her following closing arguments and said, “Thank you, no one has ever said anything good about me.”
”What he said reinforced the significance of trial advocacy and the reason I like practicing law.”
Now, in addition to teaching, Reisz will supervise Immigration Clinic students as they manage caseloads, attend merit hearings, and conduct briefs in front of immigration appeals judges and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. With the PCJP, Reisz will guide students conducting parole hearings for parole-eligible women serving life sentences and seeking re-sentencing for juveniles serving sentences of life without the possibility of parole.
“Both the Immigration Clinic and the PCJP go with my background, especially my public defense work,” Reisz said, “And being an attorney, I’ve had opportunities to mentor students or supervise younger attorneys, and that aspect was very rewarding.”
Reisz is the second person to hold the Audrey Irmas Clinical Teaching Fellowship, which was established in 2011 and is funded primarily by Audrey Irmas, a longtime supporter of USC and USC Gould. Four generations of her family have attended USC, with four family members graduating from the law school.
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