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April 2008: Oral Arguments
The biggest difference between first and second semester is the Appellate Brief. From the moment we got handed our problem until the Oral Argument, all 1Ls talked (and complained) about is the Brief. For the past two months it has consumed our life. Our problem this year had to do with an assault during a rugby game. I have never seen a rugby game nor did I know what a scrum was, so I was not excited about this problem. Yet, I struggled through the technical part of the record, trying to figure what the hell happened. The most important part is that my brief was done in time and handing in the final draft was extremely liberating.
This past weekend we had our Oral Arguments. Having watched the ICC Moot last fall, I sort of knew what to expect. I urge every 1L to watch at least one oral argument before the spring. There are so many little things to worry about that do not seem important when someone tells you about them, but when you actually see someone argue, you notice what works and what does not. We got told to not talk with our hands, to be respectful to the judges, and to talk very slowly. In class, these points seemed like common sense to me, yet, somehow, it all seemed a lot harder once I actually stood at the podium. I was not looking forward to it: 15 minutes of either presenting my argument or answering tough questions. Arguing in front of a three-judge panel did not seem like fun, especially not at 9 am on a Saturday morning. The only time I can somewhat relax is on the weekend, so I was not pleased that a mandatory school function was scheduled during that time. Yet, I got through with it, having a very hot bench which meant that I got grilled with questions. I am glad I represented the prosecution because I got to go second. The judges asked my adverse counsel a lot of questions, so I had a little warning of what to expect. Despite the very first law school final, I do not think I have ever been this nervous since I have been at Pace. My hands were shaking and I could feel the sweat coming down my back. After we were done, we got critiqued by the judges. It was difficult to sit there and not be able to explain myself. I mainly smiled and said thank you once they were done. It was a great feeling to be, finally, completely done with this Brief; it felt like I had survived finals again.
Nevertheless, coming back to school on Monday, I quickly learned that the next four weeks are going to be even more demanding than the Appellate Brief. The next few weeks are going to be stressful: outlining, applying for my visa, starting to study, doing practice exams, attending all the meetings that people schedule within the last few weeks, and trying to do all the insane amounts of homework because professors want to finish the syllabus. May 16th cannot come soon enough but until then - it's crunch time.