In July, I learned that I was selected to be a member of Environmental Law, our school journal that focuses on environmental and natural resource issues. Today, I learned that I will also serve on the Ninth Circuit Review team. This means that, in addition to source-checking (using Bluebook, a different citation style compared to the one you learn your first year), I will help to write and edit summaries of recent decisions from the Ninth Circuit. These summaries will eventually be published in the summer edition of our journal.
Although I have a lot of work and learning to do, I’m excited! It feels good to know that I can have a small, yet permanent, influence in one of the country’s leading environmental journals.
So it’s April, and the semester has whizzed by! February and March were intense and dramatic (not just with the snow) for me because I had so much on my plate. But we’re closing our semester now and I need to talk about it.
I was happy to meet many of the incoming class of 2015 during our reception for admittees, whom I hope will join us.
That aside, my externship continues to go well, and indeed my legal writing skills are being challenged, and I am really learning so much in these waning weeks that I wish I could extend it out. But a local firm snatched me up as a summer associate. The process was long, but I’m glad I landed at a place I think will provide me both with challenging work and a good mentor or two. I feel spoiled in some way from having so many good people to work with in my short time in law school so far, but so very grateful how things have worked out, especially in light of the help and guidance I received which helped me decide the right direction to head.
I was excited to learn that the Lewis & Clark externship program is being expanded to allow us more flexibility! I think it’s the best deal in law school to get access to great experiences with the school’s backing, because it gets us connected in a meaningful way to the legal community: through our work.
Of course, it’s up to the student to make the connection and open the opportunity, but soon any student in good standing will be able to do a summer externship, and part-time externships will be opened to students for the regular year so long as it doesn’t interfere with their coursework.
I think these moves are helpful not only to us students, but to the school’s solid integration into the legal community at large. Full-time externships allow students to go out into the world, near or far, to the East coast, Southwest, or even abroad. The part-time externships will allow students, I think, to essentially create an individualized clinical experience. While our school has a wide variety of clinics that have given students intensive experiences with the guidance and supervision of professionals who are focused on teaching us, the externship experience is just like a real work experience. I think both approaches are essential, and in fact I will likely do at least one more clinic in 3L because you really do learn so much with a professor that is there to give you lots of feedback.
One of the more exciting changes for 3Ls is that you will be able to do a full-time externship your last semester of law school. I could only imagine how valuable it would be to do an externship in the place you’d like to work, right at the time you’re preparing to transition to the “real world.” In many ways, our school is making the right changes for the modern job market.
Ask any law student to share their thoughts about winter break, and the answer is likely to be the same: it was too short. Dreams of playtime and travel easily give way to sleeping in and vegetating in front of the television, allowing overworked brains to rest and recuperate. Once classes resume, the challenge is to get back into gear for the term, and ramp up the hours and efforts devoted to study. This means getting up early in the morning, instead of sleeping until noon, and hitting the books daily, instead of the snooze button. It can be a rough adjustment.
As a 2L, the world beyond law school is also starting to come into hazy view in the distance. Even though 2L winter break marks only the halfway point of the law school experience, each term seems to fly by at an accelerating pace, and the job hunt is already starting to creep into daily consciousness. Although it is easy to pretend that law school is a purely intellectual exercise, the more salient reality is that law is a profession. The career fair in early February brings this reality to the fore for many students. Sitting down with sweaty palms for a job interview helps one recognize that law school is just a brief respite from the rat race.
The path to employment is highly dependent on what one does while still in school, but the time is short, and the task at hand is complex and daunting, especially for students that don’t have relatives in the profession or a specific career path planned out. The summer after one’s 2L year becomes all-important as a platform for building a professional reputation and beginning a career, but the challenge of juggling job applications, interviews, classes and volunteering can bring on a lot of stress.
The good news is that the career services staff at Lewis and Clark are eager and able to help. Their guidance, along with a generous selection of programs to help with interview, resume, and writing skills, makes the job hunt less frightening and much more enjoyable. Lewis and Clark students worried about the challenges of the current job market have great resources right at their fingertips. Plus, they serve snacks on Wednesday, so even if you’ve got this whole job thing wrapped up, there’s still good reason to drop in and say hello. Getting to know your fellow students and professors is bound to help in law school and beyond, but make some friends in career services, too. Don’t forget that there is more to school than classes!
As our profession is inseparably intermingled with politics, particularly in our state where judges are elected, I have found that it does not diminish civility. More often elections for the legal roles are choices between awesome candidates, and this time I’m excited that I know many of them personally.
But it tugs at my heart to have to make a choice come election day, when a few of them are running for the same role. I want them all to succeed, just as they have encouraged my own career. I could easily go on and on regarding their intellect, warmth, compassion, experience, judgment, and other qualities which the various roles they seek require. The candidates I know are all dedicated public servants with amazing backgrounds that show they merit the roles they seek.
Being at L&C has put me in touch with these great people who are now candidates for AG, Supreme Court roles, etc. Though their particular styles vary widely, there is no question each has what it takes to be effective, plus they’re just good and decent folks who are a pleasure to talk to–which they did despite the little amount of time they have, not because it was a chore, but because it was part of being who they are. A couple of them even take the time to come to campus on a regular basis to teach.
So, why am I writing about these candidates? Because I wanted to remind our law school applicants that the law school provides so many opportunities to become linked, engaged, and invested in the legal community. It’s a happy thing to feel connected, to have an increasing sense of belonging as you work hard and productively toward your own goals.
But as I’ve said a million times before (count ’em, lol), the profession is about people. Despite the times your heart will be pulled in different directions to support all the new friends you will make, it’s still a joy to know that in the end someone you support and enjoy knowing will be leading the legal community in a new way. And even the person who isn’t elected will continue being amazing and will just find a new way to do great things. In short, they will continue to be great examples for all of us to follow, and hopefully give us ideas about how we will tread our own path with confidence.
So, I hope I haven’t been too political here, but I hope in the future I’ll get to see some of my peers run and be elected to these roles. It’s not uncommon to see L&C grads on those rosters of candidates, and they do get elected.