Monday, February 23, 2015
The Best Part of this Semester
Let me give a little context. As evening students, we’re required to take certain classes at certain times. As we get further into the four-year program, we’re allowed more flexibility to choose our curriculum. In planning this semester’s courses, I had two competing principles in mind. One was to take a lighter load so that I would have plenty of time to study for final exams – there’s a prevalent school of thought that employers only look at your GPA, regardless of what you studied. The other principle was to study things that really interested me, without strategizing about grades. I ended up going with the second option, and I’m glad I did. Although I have friends who planned their courses almost entirely around being able to get good grades (and their plans paid off with lucrative jobs), for me it was important to achieve certain personal goals about what I wanted to learn in law school. Also, I figured it would be easier to get good grades in the classes that I really wanted to take, because my interest in the material would get me through the necessary drudge-work. And I believe that no matter how much you love something, whether it’s a class or a job, there will always be some aspects that are drudgery. That was true for me even when I was making my living as an actor, which was mostly ridiculously fun.
My “fun” course this semester is the International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court. We’re learning about bodies of international laws and protocols as we get experience prepping a case for arbitration. Professor Aaron Ghirardelli is guiding us as we comb through a folder of arbitration pleadings and exhibits to search for relevant facts and issues to make a compelling argument for the claimant. We’re researching international arbitration cases, domestic cases, and scholarly commentary to support our claim in a memorandum. Soon, we’ll flip to the other side and write a memorandum for the respondent. At the end of the semester, we’ll argue both sides before JAMS arbitrators at their downtown location. JAMS is an acronym for “Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services.” According to the website, “JAMS a distinguished global panel of retired judges and attorneys with uncompromising objectivity who are capable of resolving the most complex disputes where the parties appear to be unyielding.” According to Professor Ghirardelli, our arbitrators will be brilliant legal minds who have taken a real interest in working with law students.
What a great opportunity to argue before real arbitrators! This is exactly what we’ll do if we work in the field of international commercial arbitration, so it’s good practical experience. I’m enjoying working with so many international students in the course. It’s fun writing a persuasive brief, finding the right balance between professional etiquette and vigorous advocacy. And I’m looking forward to getting on my feet and arguing my case before JAMS. I even have a romantic vision of drafting memoranda in my Paris office, taking a moment to enjoy my spectacular view of the Tour Eiffel. Wouldn’t that be nice?
This course is one of the many opportunities available to hone your lawyering skills and develop practical skills. I recommend it wholeheartedly.