I know I haven't written for awhile ...
05/26/2008 - 06/09/2008 96 °F
Okay - I've been working like crazy since I got here but the good news is that I love it!
First, I absolutely love Judge Klein, the judge I work with. He's really nice and easy going and we get along very well and very easily. I've written several memos so far (2ish every week). I've done some for civil motions, criminal motions, and one for a jury trial (demurrers, pleas in bar, probable cause, motion to compel, criminal procedure). I get to sit in on trials and motions - there's a motions docket every Friday and depending on the week it is either civil or criminal motions or criminal sentencing (the judges rotate which they are doing). I think the best thing they do here is that all the judges share the dockets. Once the things scheduled for your courtroom are done the clerk will email the other courtrooms to find out who has what left and take on some of the motions from another courtroom. That way they all share the load an no one is done until everyone is done. I think that is a much better system than how most courts run (i.e. once you finish your docket you are done, which leaves others to battle through a tough docket on their own ...) I also do some of the less glamorous things - the Courthouse is undergoing construction so my Judge moved his chambers upstairs to the fifth floor adjacent to the new wing they built - so nicer chambers and courtrooms but we had to move everything from the old chambers to the new. I've become an expert packer, sorter, mover, picture hanger, and organizer! but I don't at all mind doing that kind of stuff for the Judge because he helps and shows all of the people he works with a lot of respect. It is much easier to do grunt work with someone that doesn't take advantage of you and who respects you, I've discovered. Besides that Judge Klein always pays me back for the less exciting work I do for him - buys me lunch/dinner etc. He's also very easy to joke around with and we're a little sarcastic with each other, fun to joke around with one another.
Second, the entire community at the Courthouse is great! Everyone is very close and it's like a family. Everyone does so much work so fast and are sometimes deciding difficult and important things, and sometimes work late together it is easy to feel close knit with the other interns, clerks, judges, and secretaries. Two of the clerks, Melissa and Rocky, are particularly fun and I have lunch with them and/or use them as a sounding board when I am researching and writing. When things get a little confusing or hectic they are life-savers.
Third, it is very helpful and interesting to see things from the other side of the bench. I have seen some terrible briefs/memos from attorneys and some good ones - and I've seen some really awful oral arguments and some really brilliant ones. That in and of itself has been an invaluable experience and I feel it gives me an absolute head start on being a better attorney. Also hearing the different judges opinions on their cases and the attorneys on each side and the way they synthesize the law and make decisions when the law isn't clear is also insight you really cannot get anywhere else. Judge Klein is also a professor at George Mason Law School (which is ranked directly below Madison - so it's about the same caliber school). He has a lunch seminar series of sorts for all the interns once a week - three to four judges or practicing attorneys come have lunch with all of us and talk about a topic (last week was about balancing your personal and professional life and how to make a good impression with judges as a new attorney - their expectations and allowances etc.). We eat lunch and can chit chat with them first and then they have a more formal talk and then open it up to questions. Then once a week Judge Klein has lunch with all the interns and teaches them about some aspect of Virginia law (we've done motions to compel, demurrers, pleas in bar). Finally, whenever I write something for my Judge he goes through it and makes notes and corrections and then at the end of each week we sit down and go over everything that he's looked at together so that he can explain what was good and what needed work. It's really helpful for my writing and my research skills have gotten better just by doing the work. I think I can easily say that I've learned more in three weeks then in my whole first year - at least more that I will successfully retain.
Fourth, I've met up with some friends from home in Racine while I was here. I've seen my friends Jolyn and Tory a few times. We went to Fur (if anyone knows what that is - club) to see a DJ - it was expensive and we were out way too late but it was fun. Then we had a pool party and bbq which was a lot of fun. I've been out to eat to several good places with my Aunt and Uncle, we also went to see the new Chronicles of Narnia which I liked, we went to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day and visited my grandparents and great-grandparents, and we went to a Nationals baseball game against the Brewers and somehow the Brewers managed to lose even though the Nationals are absolutely terrible ... hmm. I also went back to Wisconsin last weekend. It was my birthday Friday and also my good friend from high school, Kristen's wedding. Jake and I attended the wedding and had some good food, drinks, and a little dancing. Then we went home and hung out with my parents for a little while - got my birthday presents (anyone remember how I got all my dvds stolen, well my parents replaced probably about half of them for my birthday), and saturday we went out to lunch at the Olive Garden, went shopping, visited my friend Betsy and her twin children, had a nice family dinner - during which the torrential downpours started infiltrating our basement (oh great) but my sister and Brian (her husband) were there too - we played a little Tripoley at the end of the night too. All fun things! The storms delayed my flight the next day but I got to move to Midwest (mmm chocolate chip cookies) and get a free round-trip voucher! so all in all worth it.
It's been in the high 90's the last five days or so out here and ridiculously humid, with the humidity index they say it was 105 today (bleh) - and to make things even more special the storms here knocked out people's power (AC included) and the side of the Courthouse that my judge's chambers is on had its AC knocked out - needless to say today was hot, sweaty, and sticky yuck! More of the same tomorrow probably. Oh well! Hope everyone is happy and healthy and staying cool.