Who dat? We dat! Greetings from N’awlins and the American Bar Association Judicial Clerkship Program!
Today was the first day of the three-day program and it was quite an experience. My colleague and I arrived in New Orleans pretty late and by the time we got to the hotel, checked in and got something to eat, it was the early hours of Thursday morning. Lucky for us that the program didn’t start until noon.
We’ve been split up into groups and at my table there are four other law students and four judges…two district judges (one from Ohio and the other from Pennsylvania), one Administrative Law judge, and a judge serving in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague.
What could I possibly have in common with a judge in The Hague? A lot! Turns out she is retired from the Air Force and did a stint in my home town of San Antonio, Texas AND she also spoke of commuting 500 miles a week her first year of law school. We had lots to talk about when I told her I’ve commuted 1000 miles a week for the last 3.5 years! It was quite a bonding moment. She gave me her card and invited me to visit the Hague (Yeah! I’m thinking I need to make this happen at some point.) and she’d arrange a tour for me. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!?! I am definitely going to put this on my bucket list of things to do and will start researching this soon, no doubt.
We got our legal research assignment, which is a major part of this conference, today and worked in our groups with our assigned judges to tackle the problem, isolate the issues and research to find relevant law. More than just telling us what we need to do to become judicial clerks, they are showing us what the job entails and equipping us with the skills to do the work.
Tomorrow (Friday….even though it is already Friday when I’m writing about this) a panel of Justices from the 4th Circuit will be here to listen to oral arguments on several cases on their docket. Originally, we were supposed to go to the court and hear the arguments there, but since there is such a large group of us the court instead decided to convene in our hotel. I am so excited to see how this works in real life!
After our cocktail reception and more networking, my colleague Liz and I got out of the hotel and took a walk down Decatur Street. We got a good look at New Orleans at night, stopped and listened to jazz on the street and picked up some beignets and cafe au lait from Cafe Du Monde. Since Mardi Gras is coming up soon the city is bathed in green, purple and gold everywhere you look. I purchased some glittery mardi gras masks and t-shirts for the family. While out shopping the clerk at a local Walgreens noticed the ABA t-shirts that Liz and I were wearing. She started asking questions about our conference and when she found out that we are law students, she wanted to know more. Liz and I had one foot out the door and when she wanted to know about OUR law school we did an about-face and talked to her at length about our experiences in law school, but in particular, at Texas Wesleyan. She was amazed that the both of us are doing what she’s always dreamed of doing and we both have kids and a family too. She also has kids and so our stories seemed to give her hope. I passed her my business card and invited her to email me if she wanted more information and she promised that she would. Maybe we planted a seed. I’d like to think so. It’s been a really fun and exciting event so far.
Since we have to meet for breakfast and another long day of legal clerking at 7:30 am…I better get some sleep. It’s already after 1 am!
More to report tomorrow, I’m sure!