This is my second evening in my Winter-mester class and it’s been pretty interesting so far. The course I’m taking this week (one week = one credit) is Civil Motion Practice. My reasons for taking this class can be summed up with the phrase: Long-term benefits. Here are the pluses as I see them:
1) Motion Practice is practical and useful
The reality is that good old-fashioned trials are getting harder to come by. Cases, both civil and criminal, settle more often than they go to court. Note that “settling” in the criminal sense is called “taking a plea.” Anyway, I think the statistic is somewhere around 90% of cases settle. So, being able to argue and win a crucial motion can often give you a stronger negotiating position for settling the case.
2) Opportunity to practice oral advocacy
I don’t know many people that are just a-OK with speaking in front of people. It’s nerve-wracking and well, nobody wants to look silly in front of others. It’s kind of a given that if you’re in law school there will come a time when you HAVE to stand up and make an oral argument. I’ve done it a handful of times and each time I do it gets just a bit easier. A bit. Actually, leading up to my turn at the podium the nerves are there, but somewhere between “May it please the Court” and “Thank you, your Honor” I get in the zone. When I sit down, I have (thus far) always thoroughly enjoyed myself. So I’m all for practice.
3) Gain some confidence at the podium and learn court decorum
For me, this class is a crash course in what to do and not to do in court. The professor is a sitting District Court judge, so the chance to ask her pointed questions about “How do you do this,” or “Is it ok to do that,” is something to be valued. I am going to need this information come next week when my stint in the DA’s office begins.
So in all, with two sessions under my belt, I’m already really glad I took this class—it is exactly what I wanted it to be.
HOWEVER, I do have to comment on just one aspect of the class about which I’m less than pleased and it actually has nothing to do with the class per se, but more with an attendee. I purposely focused on the positives of the class first hoping to curb my comments a bit on this, but it has to be said.
Law school…oh, law school…you bring the wildest bunch of people together. I’ve never been in a place where there are so many people like me (Type A personality, super organized, highly competitive etc.) and yet certain of these same people drive me NUTS!! So yesterday in our first class, I know I totally outed myself with a reaction to someone’s question.
Here’s the scene: The class is small, 12 of us, and the Judge is giving us an over view of the course, her expectations, and specifically discussing our assignment for tomorrow (which is what we did tonight). This classmate at issue has already gotten my attention because before class he was talking way too loud about way to many theories of law, constitutional provisions, and land mark cases. It’s obvious he wants to appear smart and knowledgeable and just basically show off. Not liking this so far.
Once the Judge explains our assignment which is to argue both sides of a Motion to Enter Defendant’s Property (pretty simple and straight-forward), the classmate (not surprisingly), wants to ask a question. He asks the Judge…a sitting District Court Judge…whether he should focus more on the “ethos,” “pathos” or “logos“ of the argument. I about died, and while I thought it was only in my head, I later realized that I groaned…audibly. Thankfully I did though, because I really think my groan muffled all the noisy eye rolling from everyone else in the room.
“C’mon man! Stop wasting everyone’s time,” I wanted to say. I guess by the time you are 9 hours away from graduating law school you just don’t care for this kind of drivel. That, and it’s just annoying and it keeps others from asking real questions because they are trying hard not to be “that guy” that asks the inane questions. Really, I was waiting for him to ask the Judge, “What’s my motivation?” Geez! Even so, I was mortified that I groaned out loud. Sort of..well, maybe not so much. Ok, not really.
For today’s arguments we met in the Judge’s courtroom. I wouldn’t have been too sad to get this guy; I could’ve taken him. But instead I got called first and went against someone else. There wasn’t really any time for nerves. I got up to the podium, literally, THE first one of the students to speak, and I did it. I made my arguments, I was succinct, I had a copy of the rule and offered it to the Judge (she loved that!!), I made lots of eye contact, I outlined my points and sat down. Done. Everyone else got the benefit of seeing it done by someone else first. It was a pretty cool rush and I think I’m gonna enjoy the rest of this week.
The trip from the courthouse ended on a super funny note. Another classmate and I carpooled and when we came back to my car an SUV had street parked nearly touching my front bumper. Luckily, I had left space behind me and I have a small car or I’d not have been able to get out. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to open my packet of Fake Parking tickets, so I issued one to the inconsiderate driver and left it on his windshield. The “ticket” is bright yellow and says in bold print: PARKING VIOLATION
Here’s the message written on the ticket:
“This is not a ticket, but if it were within my power, you would receive two. Because of your Bull Headed, inconsiderate, feeble attempt at parking, you have taken enough room for a 20 mule team, 2 elephants, 1 goat, and a safari of pygmies from the African interior. The reason for giving you this is so that in the future you may think of someone else, other than yourself. Besides I don’t like domineering, egotistical or simple-minded drivers and you fit into one of these categories.
I sign off wishing you an early transmission failure (on the expressway at about 4:30 p.m.). Also may the Fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits. With My Compliments.”
Hahahaha….who says law school is all work and no play???
ORIGINALLY POSTED 7/27/11 (Additional comments added on 11/12/11) –NYC went by so fast, but my mom and I had a wonderful time and saw lots of the City. As a bonus, Derek Jeter got his 3000thhit the weekend we were there. Awesome!
Our main event at the AAJ Convention was a Sunday morning brunch hosted by the Women Trial Lawyers Caucus. I met many talented female trial lawyers who took time to chat and personally encourage me in my law school journey. Just at my table of eight there were three U.S. Congresswomen with whom I had breakfast! At the breakfast I received the Women Trial Lawyers Caucus Mike Eidson Scholarship for $5000. This is an annual scholarship that the Caucus gives away to one female law student in the country.
I was speechless when I got the call and just honored beyond belief to be selected, especially because when I first considered applying for the scholarship I thought I didn’t qualify. The award is for a female law student who aspires to be a trial attorney and has taken affirmative steps to reach that goal. In my mind, that meant you should have joined mock trial or moot court. Because of my crazy commuting schedule and the fact that these two organizations practice countless hours outside of class, I just couldn’t make it work.
I blew off applying for the scholarship and weeks later had a dream that told me not only that I should apply and what I should say in my essay, but assured me that I would win. The dream literally walked me through an examination of what I’d done in and out of law school and how these things were relevant to becoming a trial lawyer. I woke up with a plan, but unsure if I’d missed the deadline. Turns out I had just over a week to complete my application, which I did. The rest is history.
I can’t tell you how many successful and prominent people walked up to me at the brunch and commented about how my essay just impacted them. I was asked specific questions about my submittal such that I knew they had read my application with interest and admiration. I was repeatedly told that my application was by far the best they received. Wow. I want to especially thank Marianne LeBlanc and the Women Trial Lawyers Caucus for an unforgettable experience.
Meanwhile, I have to shelve my future lawyer dreams temporarily and focus on completing my legal education. Even though the new semester is still three weeks away, I have a major test coming up. Next Friday I will take the MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam) which is the ethics portion of my State Bar exam; a passing score is required to practice in Texas. Seeing as many of my friends are taking the BIG bar exam this very week, the MPRE seems tame by comparison. Nevertheless, it is a challenge I must conquer before taking my own bar exam next July, so it’s kind of a big deal.
I’ll be in Fort Worth this weekend to take an MPRE review class at school, so my Saturday is pretty much toast. That’s ok; my friend Lyndsay (another blogger) will be there, so we’re in this together. Wish us luck!
ORIGINALLY POSTED 7/6/11–Start spreading the news….I’m leaving today. Well, not today, but this weekend I’ll be in New York City! This is my all time favorite city, so as I’m sitting here typing I can’t stop smiling.
It’s funny, soon after I submitted the last blog I got a call and received the opportunity to attend the annual American Association for Justice convention in NYC. Clearly, God knows what he’s doing. He has such wonderful things in store for me that it’s a shame I keep getting in the way of His plans.
I’ll be able to attend legal seminars and network at the convention, but I am especially looking forward to a mini-vacation. My last vacation was in 2007 when my family and I spent a week in NYC. Since then I have been in school, working, or in school AND working—I’m mentally and physically drained. Ironically, the fast-pace and overload of NYC is just what I need for a few days. The frantic buzz of NYC makes everything else pale in comparison. I imagine that by the time I come back, I’ll look at my hectic life and be grateful for its comparatively slow and steady pace. This is just what I needed to lift my spirits.
My mom’s going with me, so watch out 5th Avenue…the girls will be loose in the Big City! I’ve also found tickets for us to see Jersey Boys on Broadway, but that’s a surprise. Don’t tell! Sixty-degree evenings in July!?! Sweet!
ORIGINALLY POSTED 4/27/11–Reading the letter I felt my head spin…all D’s and one F?!? And to make it worse the grades were all written in bright red…staring at me, laughing. How did this happen?
It’s started…I had my first grade nightmare last night. I was so grateful to wake up this morning and find that I still have time to study for my finals and it was nothing more than an anxiety-induced nightmare. I don’t recall having these kinds of nightmares before though. I’ve gone to sleep only to find my mind continues figuring out one legal fact pattern after another long after I’ve put my books away for the night, but never have I had dreams of grades. That’s kind of unnerving.
Maybe it has to do with this week being the last week of classes and finally getting some detail about exam formats from my professors. One exam is mostly multiple-choice and the other is all multiple-choice. Both professors said the exam should not take the full three hours. Hmmm, I don’t know how I feel about that. I’ve historically done well with multiple choice exams, but what kind of monster questions are these guys going to think up to separate the herd? That has me kind of worried and probably why I am quietly freaking out in my sleep.
This was my last week working at the law firm. I have to thank my boss, Randy Moore and all the friends I made at the office for such a great semester. I’ll still be blogging for Randy over the summer, but I’ll miss seeing him, Teresa and Kim every week. Also thanks to Coby Wooten, a Texas Wesleyan Law alum, for encouraging me to get my 3rd year bar card so we can try some cases together.
As our last hurrah, Randy and I are going to a Civil Service Appeal Hearing tomorrow in Grand Prairie. I’m anxious to see him in action. After spending all semester hanging around with these trial lawyers, litigation is starting to intrigue me more every day. So many choices….