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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Practice

If I could go back to my 1L self and advise me on what to make sure I do in law school, I'd say take as many practical (rather than substantive or theoretical) classes as you can, because learning by doing can be way more effective than learning by reading theory.

This semester I am taking two practical classes: the small business legal clinic and contract drafting. Both of them have already provided some of the best experiences I have had in law school.

In contract drafting class, I am rewriting some form contracts, which is a very useful skill to learn. You might imagine that this is a very regular thing for law students to learn in law school, but actually I have heard that contract drafting classes are quite rare. The one at my school is a very small class that always has a huge wait list, so I am glad I got the opportunity to take it before graduating. It's much more useful than my technology licensing class I took a year ago, in which I read about licensing, and looked at some rather dense and unintelligible contracts, but didn't really learn much because I wasn't asked to draft anything.

There is so much garbage out there in contract language. When was the last time you read a contract that you understood even half of? Ok, ok, I know. You don't read the contracts you sign. I don't either. But wouldn't it be nice if you could understand what they said when the shit eventually hits the fan and you have to actually go back to read them? I am planning to eventually amass a collection of coherent form contracts that I can use in my future practice. This class is a great chance to get a start on that.

The small business legal clinic is turning out to be something I probably should have done last year to build up some of the confidence that the first year tore down. I started it with a great measure of anxiety. I have been struggling with anxiety issues for many years, and sometimes it is more bearable than others, but before this semester started, I was in a pretty bad place in terms of managing it. It was getting to the point where I was starting to contemplate seeking professional help, but that's not something I want to do before the bar application process, so I've been holding out. But in the last two weeks, I have been able to work on a lot of my anxiety issues via the clinic class. I have already had to interview two clients, which is an intimidating thing, but they went well and my confidence is growing by the day, noticeably.

On the day of my first interview, I was nervous as hell. But I got through it in pretty decent shape and had a nice endorphin high the rest of the day. I was so insanely cheerful that day, and had a bunch of positive interactions with people throughout my day, including random strangers. The following day, I was exhausted from having had so much positive energy the prior day, so I kind of crashed and retreated into my shell again. But clinic is forcing me to come out of that shell on a regular basis, and it is having derivative effects in my life outside of clinic that are starting to stick around a little longer.

Today I had my second client interview, which went great, and I carried my positive attitude into my after-clinic hours. I am beginning to realize how important human relations skills are to the practice of law. It's customer service, really, and in any industry that performs customer service, it is a boon to be kind and pleasant to people in general. You never know who may walk into your law office needing help some day. And you want to build interpersonal skills so you can provide good customer service for the needs of your clients, because they are at the center of what lawyers do. I am feeling more confident, and can actually envision myself getting into this profession and eventually being good at it, one step at a time. It's nice to have positive, confidence-building experiences at last, instead of just being torn down in the classroom all the time.

I think this last semester will be a good one.

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6 comments:

heidikins said...

I love this post. In fact, it may be one of my favorites that I've ever read here. the whole thing just makes me smile.

xox

Sra said...

Aw shucks, that's kind of you. I am just glad my last semester is going this way. It is most welcome at this point, and I feel like the next chapter will be good too, even if it's up in the air right now.

Zachary Terry said...

I really enjoyed reading this. Glad you've got some upward feedback going on.

Kirstyelizabeth said...

It has been a really exhausting journey, hasn't it?  I seriously get tired every time I read about your schedule and the work you are putting in.  I'm proud of you though, and glad to hear that you're getting some good practical work in.  I'm sure it will be valuable.  Have a great semester!

Sra said...

Yeah, me too. I dwell on the negative a lot. Something I need to work on. But I'm glad things are looking up.

Sra said...

Thanks, K. I'm hoping all the work will be worth it eventually. I think it may be.

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