‘Oh right, I’m good at this. In fact, I love this.’ That is not a thought most people get to have all that often in law school, and it isn’t one that’s occurred to me with much frequency while on call under the Socratic method or drafting a moot court memo. I’d like to think I have a reasonable level of competency with those things, but do they thrill me? Not per se. Luckily, those aren’t the only ways you can spend your time.
A lot of people will tell you that working while in law school is insane. They said that about my care-taking job with a special needs child… and maybe they were right: that commitment was a big undertaking, and I ended up having to cut back my hours this semester.
But that faceless ‘they’ of outside input also told me not to take a clerkship position. It’s time away from campus, it’s stress on top of my studies, I don’t need the experience during the semester because I can get it over the summer. But that’s where I’ve learned that ‘they’ are wrong, at least for me: I need the experience. Not just for my resume or as an interview talking point. I need to do real substantive legal work and remember that I enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve really liked a lot of the classroom academic work I’ve had a chance to do, but over the course of 2L year there were times I forgot how much I adored the legal work I did last summer at the Office of the Attorney General, or all the other bright shiny exciting things that make you want to go to law school in the first place. What I did enjoy was the clinical work I did at Greater Boston Legal Services.
Which is why when I came across a chance to be a clerk in a university Office of General Counsel for the spring semester, I had to apply. It’s paid, which I won’t pretend isn’t nice, but that isn’t the most important thing. I can’t get very excited about incomplete fact patterns and fictional clients, but give me a real problem? Even if it’s mundane or super technical (Does absolute immunity apply to testimony given at quasi-judicial hearings that aren’t under oath? How is an emotional support animal different than a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act?) it’s real, and that is what I get excited about. Real situations, real people, real problem solving. Some day not all that far off (one year of school left!) I’ll get to do this all the time, and that helps make everything else worth it.