There is still a plethora of tomatoes on the vine, their musky scent and neon yellow pollen clinging to my hands as I pick them. The weather each afternoon is still warm enough to wear shorts, and children are still running barefoot down my block. How is it possible that we have returned to school already?
Yet those same tomatoes are being used as the base for deeply flavored, hearty soups, and those same kids are wearing sweatshirts and jackets, as well as shoes, on their way to school in the mornings. Autumn is tiptoeing into our lives, gently but inexorably reminding us that it is time to let go of our languid, bright summer days and focus once again on the faster paced, softer lit days of fall.
I have found myself resisting the change, reluctant to reconnect and get back into the groove of school.
Some of that resistance had to do with the wonderful experience I had this summer. I spent five weeks at the Lewis & Clark Legal Clinic, focusing on landlord-tenant and family law cases (the clinic also handles bankruptcy and tax cases). At the clinic, you get to work on real cases under the supervision of one of the four professors. While I was there, I spent so much time at the courthouse the security staff started to recognize me. Considering the hundreds of people who go through there on a daily basis, I was very impressed.
Getting to work with actual clients on actual cases was fantastic — and it made me wish, not for the first time, that I could just spend the next two years in an apprenticeship, rather than heading back to class. While I enjoy my professors and love all the interesting things that happen on campus, the clinic experience was amazing for me because it was so practical and so real. I miss being there, and I can’t wait to do it again.
The other reason for my resistance was a less happy one, and I have struggled with what, if anything, to say about it here for a couple of weeks. In the end, I concluded that it would feel dishonest not to mention it. So here it is: a couple of weeks before classes began, one of my classmates died.
The news was a huge shock to me, and I am deeply saddened by the loss, even though we hadn’t spent much time together for a while now. But he was my friend. In my own neglectful way, I loved him. He was a big, bold personality, with a lot of warmth, and I miss him terribly.
I was fortunate to be able to take a bit of time away, afterward: we rented a house and had a lovely stay at the Oregon coast. Though the weather can be dicey at this time of year, we lucked out. It was a gorgeous few days, and we spent most of our time on the beach. Being able to just be with my family, and cherish them, and remember my wonderful friend, the surfer, in a place that was his second home, was wonderful, if bittersweet. I am grateful I had the opportunity.
I am working with the Classroom Law Project and the Academic Enhancement Program (AEP) to put on a summer law camp for middle school students attending King School in NE Portland. At Summer Law Camp, students prepare to participate in a mock trial in front of a real judge at the Multnomah County Courthouse.
After only two days, I realize how important opportunities like Summer Law Camp are for young students, especially those from low-income areas of Portland (where many students do not have myriad educational opportunities):
1. It inspires students to pursue higher education and to graduate from high school.
2. It provides students with an understanding of how the court system works.
3. It teaches teamwork, public speaking, reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.
4. It allows students to explore interests and realize their educational and career potential.
Wow. Summer is here. After having a week to relax, my schedule is now packed.
On Monday, I began my work for the Lewis & Clark Sustainability Council as a Law Clerk. My main tasks are to research sustainability-related programs and create networks for all three of our campuses and the Portland-metro area. I’m excited to see what I can get done. This summer, expect to hear updates about my work in this position. Also, feel free to email me if you are interested in volunteering or doing research for the Sustainability Council at firstname.lastname@example.org (Did you know that you can count volunteer hours from the summer before 1L as hours for the Community Service Award? Pretty cool, right?)
Today, I started my other summer opportunity. I met with a local trial judge and received my first real-world legal research assignment on a confidentiality issue. Thank goodness for L.A.W. and Legal Research! I am devoting this weekend to perfecting a legal memo!
Overall, life is great. I am enjoying the sun and finally have time to get back in touch with friends and colleagues.
Finals were over about a month ago. I survived — this time, I was about 97% certain that I didn’t flunk, so you know, my confidence level is improving. However, if there’s one thing I learned in my 1L year, it’s that the answer is always, “It depends.” I can’t imagine there’ll ever be a semester where I’m completely sure everything was great.
Recently, I said to my spouse, “You know, they say law school really changes the way you think. I don’t know — I don’t feel any different.” He laughed at me — and I mean full-blown side splitting, belly laugh. He then pointed out how many times I’ve gone on about assumption of the risk (Torts) and excusing minors from obligations for incapacity (Contracts), that I’ve argued for something I knew was right legally, though I disagreed with it (L/A/W appellate brief) and actually explained the concept of Erie problems in a way a non-law student could understand (thank you, Prof. Bob Miller!). How I read news stories and immediately try to suss out whether there’s a case there. So I suppose it’s really that I’m too close to the new, more ‘lawyerly’ me, rather than that I’m not changed or that I don’t know anything.
But I do know that being here at L&C still feels right. So much so that instead of spending this first summer lounging around with my family, I decided to spend it here on campus. I’m not taking a class; Anne Nguyen and I are co-directors of orientation for the class of 2014. We’re here answering questions for new and prospective students, giving tours, updating the admitted students’ web site, updating the “welcome to L&C” booklet for new, transfer and LL.M. students, planning events, and lots of other things. It’s been a cool job thus far, and I expect it will be even better as summer finally comes to P-town and we can get out to do some fun stuff with the rising 1Ls.