Jeanette Lugo

Assistant Public Defender at Office of the Public Defender-19th Judicial Circuit of Florida

2015 | Fort Pierce, FL

Vanderbilt University | History

“Faculty members challenge you to research and analyze legal issues but they always guide you throughout the process.”

Jeanette Lugo participated in three of MSU College of Law’s clinics: the Immigration Law Clinic, Plea & Sentencing Clinic, and Housing Clinic. “I participated in the clinics because learning how to effectively offer client-centered representation is a skill that requires practice,” she said. “As a clinician, you learn what will be expected of you once you enter the legal field ranging anywhere from case management and filing court pleadings to appearing in court on behalf of clients.”

In her time at the Immigration Clinic, Jeanette performed intake and met with unaccompanied youth and refugees so that she could assess what relief was available to them. “During my time in the Plea & Sentencing Clinic, I presented an oral argument on behalf of a criminal indigent client in circuit court. A brief that I wrote on behalf of a client in the Plea & Sentencing Clinic was granted leave by the Michigan Court of Appeals. Currently, in the Housing Clinic, I represent tenants on a short-term basis and negotiate on their behalf with landlord attorneys so that eviction is not pursued and an amicable solution is reached regarding payment of rent,” Jeanette said.

Jeanette described the clinic environment as friendly and supportive. “Faculty members challenge you to research and analyze legal issues but they always guide you throughout the process,” she said.

One of her most rewarding experiences at the housing clinic arose when she negotiated a settlement for an elderly woman who faced difficult times in her business and fell behind on the rent. “I found out the timeframe in which she could pay and negotiated with the landlord’s attorney with respect to when the full amount would be paid,” Jeanette said. “I also recommended to the tenant that she meet with a representative from the Department of Human Services (DHS). By meeting with DHS, the tenant learned that she was eligible to receive financial assistance. The tenant was especially thrilled because the burden of paying a substantial amount of back rent was alleviated.”

The MSU Law’s clinics provided Jeanette an outlet for her passion in public interest law. “My clinical experience has demonstrated my commitment to public interest work and so it resulted in a number of interviews for state government positions in Florida.”