Monday, August 1, 2016

A Day In The Life Of a Summer Law Clerk

I haven't written too much about my summer clerk position because it took me awhile to decide what I thought about it. Today I was thinking about how when I first heard that I got the position, I didn't know what to expect. Not that every position is the same but I thought it'd be fun to share what my day as a law clerk looked like.

5:30 am - Wake up and lay in bed for half an hour wondering why I decided to take the one position that was an hour plus drive away.

6:00 - Remember that I really wanted to work with an elder law firm and get out of bed. Shower, dress and all that jazz.

7:00 - Get in my car and start my commute.

8:00 to 8:30 - Arrive at work. This time varies greatly depending on traffic and weather. Generally my morning commute isn't too bad and I usually just jam out to the radio.

8:30 - Head to my desk and start up my computer and try to remember where the heck I left off the day before.

8:45 - Office meeting with free bagels!! Yum! (Only on Mondays.)

9:15 - Head back to my desk and start trying to figure out this massive case I was handed that spans years, numerous lawyers, and many different practice areas. I have been working on it for ages but half of that was simply reading through a case file that was over a foot thick. Today I was trying to figure out the notes of one of the paralegals and find a legal argument for a motion that feels like it is taking me way too long to write.

10:30 - Get pulled off the motion for some legal research for one of the attorneys. Actually, this may be why the motion is taking so long. Other than the fact that the attorney was mistaken on the type of discovery request he had received, so I had to do the research twice, this was the easiest part of my day. Finally, something law school has prepared me for!

12:00 - Finish typing up the research results and go on lunch. Most days I go to Checkers because I can get a burger and medium tea for 3.08. Before hand, one of the paralegals asked if I had ever been to a nearby Amish restaurant. I said no so when I got back, she brought me blueberry pie!! Paralegals are awesome.

1:00 - Come back from lunch and a couple paralegals asked me to go get documents from the Clerks Office. The entire exchange went like this -

  • Paralegal 1 - I need you to get me a deed from 1988, before the records were digitalized.

  • Me - Inside my head, okay. I know I need to go to public records. Then what? Thank God for Google.

  • Paralegal 1 - You'll have to find it on microfilm but it shouldn't cost too much.

  • Me - Wait, what? They still use that? Starts Googling how to use microfilm.

  • Paralegal 2 - Oh, grab me a certified copy of an order while you are there. Don't forget to grab enough petty cash so you don't have to pay for it.

  • Me - Crap, am I supposed to have the cost memorized? 

1:20 - Try to figure out the microfilm machine and fail miserably. Eventually figure it out but then the machine glitches/freezes and won't allow me to print. Fuuuuuun. Even the clerk couldn't figure it out.

1:35 - Finally get the copy of the deed and get the order without a problem. Have a 10 minute conversation with an employee about how the Clerks Office and the local law school should work together to offer field trips. She completely agreed and told me horror stories of new attorneys getting things wrong. At least I eventually figured out the microfilm machine?

2:00 - Back at the office and so I try to get back to that motion.

2:20 - Paralegal asks me to draft a "Zero sum verified initial accounting." I look at her completely blank so her and another paralegal make fun of me (gently) and walk me through it. (Did I mention that I love paralegals? Because I do.) No but seriously, I've heard of initial accountings. I even know when they are due. I've never actually seen one before.

2:30 to 2:45 - Deal with computer issues that won't let me use the software I need to draft the initial accounting.

3:30 - Finish the accounting and go back to the motion of doom. Draft one section of the legal argument but need two more. Research case law until I get pulled aside by the Medicaid planning attorney to discuss a new client he got and his likely game plan.

4:30 - Go back to the motion and start to look up more case law.

5:00 - Suddenly realize everyone is leaving and I feel like I got nothing accomplished. Head out. One thing that surprised me about the firm I work at is that they take a work/life balance seriously. At 5:00 on the dot, everyone starts packing up. Including all the attorneys. Now, they might do a little work at home but for the most part, they're done. I'm sure it helps that a vast majority of the people working there have toddlers.

7:30 pm - Finally get home. The traffic was horrible today so it took me twice as long as usual to drive home. UGH. Tired and my feet hurt.

Every day is a little bit different but this is more or less how it goes. Sometimes I go to court with one of the attorneys or act as a witness for a will signing. As for my actual work product, so far, I have written responses, conflict waivers, proofread documents, summarized transcripts of hearings and done lots and lots of research. I like most of it quite a bit.

The hardest thing for me is facing the fact that there is still so much I don't know. I am still learning the software my firm uses, I don't know how to draft things that I've never heard of before, and things like Clerk fees are completely not taught in law school. However, I am learning many of these things now so that I have less to learn after I graduate!

Plus, I really do find my day fascinating. I get to look in on guardianship law, probate, wills and trust drafting and medicaid planning almost every day. It couldn't have been geared towards my interests any better!


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