Wow, it’s taken me a few days to catch up with law school and life after my trip to the Big Easy. I’ve gotten behind in my coverage and to this point had neglected to detail the last day of the Judicial Internship Program. So, where was I? Oh yes…Day 3.
Saturday was the last day of the conference and it was devoted to wrapping up our research assignment and presenting our final outline to the judges. Our group was pretty happy with the results, as were our judges. We also got together and took group pictures to memorialize our time together.
Afterward, all the judges sat on a panel in front of the room and opened the floor to Q&A, which was really useful. After several days of talking, networking and getting to know each other, questions from the audience of law students came easily. All of us were way more comfortable with each other by this point.
Wrapping up the Program we all received personalized certificates for attending and said farewell to our new friends and the judges who so graciously donated their time to the ABA Judicial Clerkship Program.
We were then treated to a wonderful luncheon to witness the presentation of the 2012 Spirit of Excellence Awards. These are prestigious awards given by the ABA to honor lawyers who have worked to promote more diversity in the legal profession. All of the honorees gave such moving acceptance speeches and I, more than once, had to swallow a lump in my throat. Of course, I could truly identify with the Honorable Petra Jimenez Maes when she spoke of becoming the first Hispanic female law student at the University of New Mexico School of Law.
I couldn’ t help but feel humbled to be in the same room with someone whose struggles undoubtedly made my path to law school as a Hispanic female just a bit easier. It is truly amazing to be among such trailblazers and rebels who sacrificed a lot in order to gain equality and opportunity for those that followed in their footsteps. It’s as if I’m standing on the shoulders of those that went ahead of me to make a path. What a good feeling. I can only hope that my career trajectory will put me in a position to do the same for my sisters behind me.
After that uplifting experience, it was almost time to load up on the airport shuttle for the ride back to the Louis Armstrong Airport…BUT, the ABA conference had one more event that I just could not pass up. Although it was not an event that was specifically part of the Judicial Conference, almost on Day 1 the rumors started. At first, I wasn’t sure it could be true, but the rumor never quite died down and then on that last day it was confirmed: United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was going to be onsite and we would be allowed to attend his presentation and see him in person. I was beside myself with excitement!
The hotel had set up two small ballrooms for attendees to sit and there was a small platform with two chairs where Justice Scalia and the moderator sat. Considering there were maybe 150 people in the rooms, it was a rather intimate space. After he was introduced, the moderator just began asking Justice Scalia questions about the Court, his impressions, how things have changed during his tenure, etc. Although we could only stay for about 20 minutes of the conversation, what I did find out is that Justice Scalia has a razor sharp wit and a really great sense of humor. In my opinion, he is just brilliant. I could have sat and listened to him talk about all he’s done and all he’s seen, for hours. In the end, it was just fantastic to be in such close proximity to someone so important to the shaping of American jurisprudence as Justice Scalia has been, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
Before we were told that pictures were not allowed, I took a few and I’m glad I did. This was an opportunity I probably won’t ever have again. This is why I never go anywhere without my camera!