Part of me feels like law school just started, and the other part of me feels like it has been three years. A month in, I can still say that I am enjoying myself! I am sure that I will feel differently in just a week – midterms and legal writing assignments are just around the corner – but for now I appreciate every stress-free moment that I can. So what has happened this past month?
For starters, I feel like I’ve learned in four weeks what I learned in an entire semester in undergrad. While the amount of information is certainly intimidating, it is the complexity and nuances to the information that make it most daunting. Through the tons of cases I’ve read so far, I’ve discovered many different rules to the law. And with every rule in the law, there are exceptions, exceptions to the exceptions, and exceptions to the exception’s exceptions. Even if you know what all of those exceptions are, there is still uncertainty in how the rule will apply or how the court will decide. The answer to “how will the court decide in this hypothetical scenario” is mostly “it depends.” My hope is that come exam time, I’ll be comfortable enough with the complexity and uncertainty of the law to be able to apply it properly! Cross your fingers for me!
Fortunately, I don’t read all the time – I’ve even made time for extracurriculars! During my second week, I volunteered with one of ASU’s pro-bono student organizations HLAP (Homeless Legal Assistance Project). Just as the name sounds, this organization provides free legal advice to people experiencing homelessness. Since it is unethical for me to provide legal advice yet, I got to take notes for a local attorney as she talked with the client. It was a super cool learning experience, and I can’t wait to do it again!
I’ve also attended really interesting talks put on by the law school, and I’ve eaten a lot of free pizza in the process. During one talk, I learned about Arizona’s Innocence Project and listened to a man, who was freed by the Project, talk about what it was like to be wrongfully incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. During another talk, I got to hear the former Arizona attorney general, a current Arizona Supreme Court justice, and the Arizona Senate president talk about the role of state in governance. By going to these talks, I’ve not only learned a lot of interesting things, but I’ve also met people that I may try to work with in the future!
In addition to all this fun stuff, I participated in my first moot court competition: a client counseling competition. This competition consists of receiving a prompt, which tells you a basic (often misleading) description of the legal issue that your client has, and a meeting with the client (in front of judges). During your meeting with the fake client, the judges score you based on a number of factors, such as your rapport with the client, how well you discovered your client’s legal issues, how well you analyzed your client’s situation, and so on. The main purpose of the competition is to teach law students how to properly meet with clients for the first time.
Before going into the meeting with my fake client, all I knew was that the legal issue had something to do with a dog. As it turned out, the issue was actually about a kennel owner that shoved a customer into a counter! I had a lot of fun figuring out which questions to ask to get to the bottom of my client’s story. Although I did not make it to the finals, I am so happy that I participated. After my 10-minute questioning with my client was over, I got great feedback from the three judges (all local attorneys) and even made a connection that I hope will lead to a job opportunity in the future!
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! I’m having an awesome time in law school, and I hope you’re having an awesome time reading about it! Next up – midterms!