de Landaburu '25 Scores Big Win for FVLC Client

By Alex Peebles
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Hannah de Landaburu '25

Following her passion for helping children and families, the Albany Law School Family Violence Litigation Clinic (FVLC) within the Edward P. Swyer Justice Center has allowed Hannah de Landaburu ’25 to hone her legal skills and jump headfirst into the complexities of family law, successfully representing real people who need legal help.

The Albany Law School Family Violence Litigation Clinic (FVLC) represents adult survivors of intimate partner violence in the Capital Region. Clinic students, under the guidance and supervision Professor Dale Cecka and Staff Attorney Erica Twomey ‘18,  apply what they learn in the classroom in a courtroom while simultaneously providing crucial guidance to people in some of their most vulnerable moments.

"Through this experience, I have performed client interviews, cultivated trust and rapport, gathered evidence, meticulously planned cases, conducted exhaustive legal research, and navigated the intricacies of empathy in handling deeply personal matters," de Landaburu said. "But beyond merely enhancing my legal acumen, the FVLC has given life to the theoretical knowledge gained in law school, infusing it with real-world significance where the lives of actual clients hang in the balance. In this arena, there are no second chances; it is a high-stakes endeavor that demands precision and unwavering dedication."

In March, de Landaburu successfully represented a client in one of the most complex cases that has come through Albany Law School's FVLC.

"The case involved out-of-state relocation, a domestic violence victim who was not believed, and an abuser who has manipulated his way through family court for nine months," said Cecka, Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Family Violence Litigation Clinic. "Everything that could go wrong had gone wrong for our client. But Hannah had been working on the matter from the beginning and stuck to proving our case despite all the obstacles. Hannah won a final child support order double the amount the magistrate had originally ordered before we were involved."

In addition to the personal sense of fulfillment, de Landaburu found that in fighting for her client, she gained experience that puts her in a position to step into the field she has worked her entire life to break into.

"The clinical program at Albany Law has been a game-changer for me. It has provided me with a competitive edge over my peers who lack practical courtroom experience. Unlike many newly admitted attorneys, I've not only stepped foot inside a courtroom but have passionately argued on behalf of clients, advocating for their best interests with conviction," de Landaburu said. "Despite the inevitable challenges and stresses inherent in clinical experience, the rewards are immeasurable. Knowing that my efforts can tangibly impact the lives of clients facing dire circumstances gives each moment profound significance. It's a journey that tests resilience and fortitude but ultimately reaffirms the transformative power of legal advocacy."

Her invaluable clinical experience also reminded her of how the subject matter across the law school curriculum—and later, in practice—fits together like pieces of a puzzle.

"This case didn't only implicate family law. It also implicated constitutional law, which I never thought I would use. But it had jurisdictional issues on top of family law issues, so that was an interesting intersection to see that every class matters and even the most basic information that you need from each class needs to be learned," de Landaburu said.

For Professor Cecka, cases like these make teaching and molding young attorneys among her favorite parts of the job.

"There's nothing better for a teacher to see than the example of Hannah. She came in, and her heart was absolutely in the right place, but she was just a 2L. She did not have much experience and was overwhelmed. It was a lot," Cecka said. "But to see her blossom from knowing nothing about this area and never having set foot in a family courthouse, to then walking in and successfully arguing on her client's behalf — there is simply nothing better as a teacher than to have that experience. No matter what, even if the outcome had been not as good as it was,  we were also really providing a needed service."

As a budding family court attorney with a bright future, de Landaburu encourages others to take full advantage of the offerings in The Swyer Justice Center.

"To fellow law students, I wholeheartedly advocate for immersing yourself in at least one clinical experience," de Landaburu said. "There's simply no substitute for the lessons learned and skills practiced in real-world legal practice. It is an investment that pays dividends not only in terms of professional growth but, more importantly, in the ability to effectuate meaningful change in the lives of those in need."