Thursday, March 7, 2019

School Can Feel Like a Full-Time Job. And, Sometimes It Actually Is One.

One of the stranger things about law school is that, sometimes, it stops feeling like school. While the first year of law school is packed with classes – and so much homework there’s barely time to do something else – that changes a bit once you get into your second year. Even though I’m just out of my first year, I’m already experiencing that shift pretty dramatically.

This semester, I’m externing for a federal judge full-time. In every meaningful way, it’s a regular job. I work from 8:30 AM until 5:30 PM, Monday through Friday. I work on smaller assignments for the clerks, attend a couple of hearings a week, and I work on larger projects – sometimes analyzing entire cases based on the papers filed by the attorneys. I read these papers, do research on the legal issues, and deliver a memo – just like a first or second-year attorney might do. Of course, I don’t have the kind of responsibilities that an actual attorney would have. But while I’m obviously not a lawyer yet, I don’t really feel like a student, either.

The exception, of course, is when I’m in class. Right now I’m taking Evidence, a four-credit class, and definitely one of the more academically intense classes in law school. Balancing Evidence and work can be pretty challenging. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I take the bus from the federal courthouse downtown to campus. I usually have an hour or so between when I get to school and when my class starts, so I’ll grab a bite to eat and brush up a little bit on the readings for class. By the time my class is over, at 10 PM, I’m pretty beat – as you can probably imagine.

It’s a fun challenge. I especially love getting a taste of what the lawyering life will entail (and glad to report that, so far, I like it). But it certainly feels less like school, and more like a real job.

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