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October 1, 2009: August and Everything After

Seth Victor

October 1, 2009

August and Everything After

Graduation. For all of the fun and festivities, there is still a bit of that walking off of the cliff feeling, waiting to plunge down into a ruthless fray of 9-5s, added responsibilities, and no safety nets. To all of you who are skeptical about what kind of afterlife awaits your law school party, fear not; clerking is your opportunity to run off that cliff and keep running. Just don't look down.

First and foremost, let me start off by confirming the obvious; the bar exam is hellish. Everything from the ever-present dread that lingers like a foul cigar on your clothes in the months leading up to it, to the poor martini of relief and panic in the last 30 minutes of the third day on your second exam. Why did I metaphorically make the bar into a bad after-hours lounge? Because the whole thing feels like the scene when Hunter S. Thompson is trippin' in a certain desert city; it seems horrible and terrifying, but it really doesn't last that long, and once you are out of it, everything is back to normal. Maybe. Results are still pending.

While the fear and loathing of the bar exam is a (hopefully) passing experience, the need to actually make money after law school is more of a long term plan. Luckily, I am one of the few, the proud, the employed. I acknowledge that while no self-respecting perpetual student ever dreams of being a working slob, I am lucky to have an income while the economy still comes around. What's more, I can tell you a secret, so long as it doesn't leave this blog. Promise? Good.

I love my job.

There, I've said it. I'll burn for that, so I hope it was worth it. Actually, it is worth it. One year ago, even with this job lined up (I know, I know, most of you hate me for that. I understand), I was terrified of actually having responsibility. I've only known the law in the books. Summer jobs, they were just that; an internship only takes you so far. Then, quite suddenly, at least for those of us who went straight through all of our schooling, we have to be adults. It's an interesting concept, and one that fully deserves grave misgivings. I am here to tell you that despite what you may think, law school is actually doing an alright job preparing you for what is next.

Clerking is a blast. Every morning I wake up around 6:30, and I get on the road by about 7:30, at the courthouse by about 7:47, roughly. I'm living back home for the time to try and get a start on my loans, and I am 10 miles from my office. You really cannot beat that set up. For the first hour, I check to make sure there is nothing I missed on the docket for my judge, and I look over my notes from yesterday. I take care of any pressing phone calls or email, and then I check in with the judge, or Captain as he likes to be called (he's a quirky, fun guy). We go over anything he needs for the day, and I go over any of my write-ups with him. After that, I work until about 5:30 on a good day, 7 or so if it is busy. The whole day is spent calling attorneys, checking on briefs, writing opinions, and always, always, always checking to make sure I have the correct laws cited. See, the craziest thing about the whole gig is that the judge pretty much trusts me to write up opinions, opinions that affect peoples lives. Every division is critical, but I work in criminal, so the things I do can send people to state prison. It's the least I can do to be accurate. Of course the judge checks over everything I do, and every opinion or so he overrules me, and I draft a re-write. But more than once now he has read into the record from the bench verbatim something I wrote. That, dear future rulers of the world, is more terrifying than any bar.

I do miss my law school schedule. Tomorrow is Friday, and it always makes me a bit sad that I haven't somehow fixed it to have the day off. Tomorrow, however, is pay day. I may be writing 12 or so pages of legal analysis a day (hey 1Ls; don't gripe too much about your second semester briefs, eh?), but I am getting paid, rather than paying someone else. Oh, and just in case I didn't make it's really a whole lot of fun.

Keep at it friends. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however narrow it gets as you go. More to come.


Seth Victor

3L Day (Class of 2009)

Environmental LawInternational Law, and Land Use Law

Lopatcong, New Jersey, USA

Undergraduate degree:
BA cum laude in History, and English Language and Literature from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF), Public Interest Law Scholarship Organization (PILSO), Environmental Law Society (ELS), and RA in Dannat Hall