Year the Last

On my second day of law school, my torts professor called on me to answer a series of questions about one of the assigned cases. It was probably only about a 20 minute colloquy, but it felt like ten years. The case involved a man with epilepsy and a drivers license who had a seizure while driving and drove through a bicycle shop owner’s front door and window, wounding the owner’s wife and destroying quite a bit of property. Owner and wife sued the man with epilepsy. Sadly, I cannot remember how the case ended. I do remember being nervous, and my classmates all kindly reassuring me after class I had done well.

Since then, I’ve learned quite a bit. I no longer need to constantly check how to spell the word “defendant,” for example. I understand (and have opinions about) the federal court system. The petitioner/respondent and plaintiff/defendant dichotomies no longer confuse me. I write sentences about impeaching witnesses on a collateral matter with extrinsic evidence, understand what they mean, and can explain them in normal-people-English (proving a witness is mistaken or lying about a particular fact using some proof other than the witness’s own testimony, when the fact isn’t something the trial completely hinges on). I can help you get a temporary restraining order, defend you against evictions, advocate for your rights to cash assistance, unemployment assistance, food stamps, and Medicaid, and so on. (Of course, a disclaimer – as a law student, I actually can’t do any of those things on my own. There’s an attorney supervising me. As a law student, I can’t dispense legal advice.)

I am excited for my final year, to develop the skills I’ve started learning, and to add new ones. Already this year, we’ve had an asylum officer give a fascinating talk and answer questions in my Immigration Law class. We have thoroughly dissected Windsor and Perry in my Family Law class. I’ve riddled my way through a number of evidence problems as part of my externship at the Victim Rights Law Center, providing comprehensive civil legal aid to sexual assault victims. In Criminal Procedure, I am reading about how the Supreme Court has continually whittled away at the 4th Amendment such that, as a good friend of mine says, “You have no rights.” (Slight hyperbole, admittedly. But you get the point.)

I don’t think anyone will ask me about whether a shop owner proximately injured by a man who has a seizure while he is driving will win a case against the driver during this last year, or for the rest of my life, for that matter. I do think, though, that the skills my professor was trying to teach me with that case – how to read cases, how to communicate ideas, how to make arguments – will be tested this coming year, and for the rest of my career. Those skills are, I think, the foundation of lawyering. And if you build that foundation, and add heavy doses of compassion, creativity, passion, curiosity, empathy, respect – and some wine and coffee, let’s be honest – well, BU might just make a lawyer of me yet.

I hope you’ll stick with me for my last year, and if you have any questions about what law school has been like, ask in the comments!

One Comment

Fort Myers Car Accident Attorney posted on September 24, 2013 at 8:15 pm

My 3L days in law school days ended 18 years ago. Torts was my favorite course, and hence, my career in tort law. In the practice of law — regardless of what area you may concentrate in — you will find that you get case after case that never fits neatly into any box. You have to weave together whatever precedent and pragmatism calls for to achieve justice. Enjoy this time, because you will look back on it years from now rather fondly. Good Luck to you!

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