2nd Semester Reflections: GPITT and John Black Mandatory Rounds

Another semester is well underway here at the Law Center, and I really can’t believe that it’s more than halfway finished! This semester, the Part Time section is taking Torts, Contracts, and Lawyering Skills and Strategies II. There has been a bit of overlap between classes, and with Civil Procedure under my belt, I feel like I understand assigned reading much better in my two doctrinal classes. In LSS, I’ve already turned in a demand letter and a motion for summary judgment, and I am currently working on my graded brief. This semester, the LSS class covers persuasive and appellate writing, so the information I’ve learned so far about the appellate process and standards of appellate review has helped to further tie my studies together.

There have been two really exciting events this semester: the Government and Public Interest Table Talk (GPITT) hosted by the Career Development Office, and John Black Mandatory Rounds as part of my Lawyering Skills and Strategies class. As GPITT’s name suggests, government and public interest organizations come to campus to discuss their organizations’ work in detail and to take applications for summer internships. It was exciting to take another step further towards my legal career. Over 50 government and public interest organizations with various missions came to meet with students. I enjoyed speaking with the different organizations about the great work they do and the opportunities for law students to get involved with the organizations. Since public interest has been my goal from the outset, I had already researched a few organizations that I really want to work for and made sure to drop off applications and speak with the attorneys who attended. In the weeks since GPITT, I have interviewed with some of the organizations, and I was recently offered a summer internship! It was awesome news! I really feel like all the studying and schoolwork is starting to pay off. Even though I’ll be interning full time and taking classes in the evenings this summer, I can say I’ve never been so excited!

The second big event I’ve participated in this semester was the John Black Moot Court Competition mandatory rounds. As part of the LSS class, all 1L students participate in one round of oral arguments based on the appellate brief we’re currently drafting. The competition was an amazing opportunity to try out my public speaking skills outside of class, and the feedback I received from the judges will be helpful if I later decide to try out for the moot court or mock trial team. The other added benefit of having to participate in oral arguments is that you are forced to outline your brief early, which hopefully will take some of the work out of writing it.

An official article about GPITT with photos can be found here.

1L Student Life

My first semester as a 1L part-time student has been interesting and enjoyable so far. All in all, the workload has been manageable, and my professors have gone above and beyond in terms of helpfulness. Smaller section size is one of the biggest benefits of the part-time program. Professors know us by name and call on us at least once a week. It feels like my classmates all know each other by name and are comfortable asking each other for help.

It’s difficult to pick out a single class as my favorite because they’re all different and interesting. At the same time, there are common threads that tie them all together. This semester, I’m taking Civil Procedure, Property, and Lawyering Skills and Strategies. Civil Procedure is an overview of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and how to handle a civil case from filing a complaint (start) to post-trial procedures (finish). My professor really makes the class both interactive and entertaining. At one point during the semester, he brought in a robotic parrot to assist the class in memorizing the standard for specificity. We’ve also had several class visitors, like a judge and police officer, who have helped us act out difficult doctrines of law and steps in the litigation process.  Finally, the class tried a mock civil case from start to finish, and I participated as a witness. It was another chance to practice the theoretical knowledge we learned.

In addition to regular case readings, our professor assigns litigation problems to small groups of students periodically throughout the semester. When my turn came around, I drafted a Rule 12(b) Motion to Dismiss and then collaborated with some of my classmates who were drafting a complaint as the opposing party.  Getting hands-on experience like this really helped both the practical and theoretical aspects of the material.

Property has been my most challenging class, particularly in regards to deed recording, equity, and the infamous Rule Against Perpetuities. Despite the difficulty of some of the material, my favorite part of class has been exploring policy decisions behind certain rulings.  It feels as if this class has covered the most theoretical knowledge, and probably my biggest take away has been analytical thinking. I did have a “law student moment” while watching television with a non-law student friend a few weeks ago. A character on the show mentioned something about going to visit family land, and I thought aloud, “I wonder if she can trace her title back to the sovereign.” My friend gave me a look that was part confusion and part condescension.

In Lawyering Skills and Strategies, we learn about legal research and writing. So far we’ve written a client advice letter and a memo, and the major graded memo is due in a few weeks.  Right now we’re studying how to draft contracts, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s definitely showed me the importance of precision and attention to detail in writing (necessary skills in any field, to be honest).  My favorite thing about the class was learning about levels of authority and geographical jurisdictions, which we discussed concurrently with our discussion of jurisdiction in Civil Procedure.

All things considered, school has been enjoyable from an academic and social standpoint, and both the stress and coursework have been manageable. In the interest of full disclosure, it’s not exam season yet, so I don’t have full experience as to the extent of law school stress yet!