Only a week left!

I’m so excited to start classes again! Technically, I have a little longer than a week until they start but still, I’m so excited! I’m the kind of person that still gets really excited the day before classes and doesn’t sleep; I’m basically an elementary school child. This semester, I have the best schedule with minimal classes. I finally feel like my hard work for the past 5 years is paying off and I can take a semester to take classes, relax, and actually have a life!

Courtroom Etiquette

If my trial practice class  has taught me anything, it’s to ASK, ASK, ASK! My class is based around giving law students the most “in class” courtroom experience they can get. I’ve done voir dire, cross, direct, opening and closing statements, and gone through the most proper way to approach a witness or get evidence admitted. I absolutely love this class, in part because of the amazing professor I have who actually goes to court on a regular basis, because it gives me a real look at how to act in court. I’ve realized through this class there are a lot of niceties when it comes to court and there are a lot of different procedures that have to be followed.

1. “Your Honor”-Judges are ALWAYS “your honor”, no matter what. It’s a respect thing from what I understand, though I’m not  a lawyer or a judge at this point. Judges work exceptionally hard to get to their position and deserve the respect they get. In a lot of cases, judges are subject to elections and have won the majority of their constituents and are in fact (not to use legalese) honorable. Even in the classes I have that are taught by a judge (with the exception of a trial judge who refuses to be called judge) my professors like to be called Judge or if your in a class presentation Your Honor.

2. “Opposing counsel”-It doesn’t matter how much you hate opposing counsel. I don’t care if he’s your awful ex-boyfriend or you rival law school classmate, they are referred to as “opposing counsel”. I have a few people in my law school class I do NOT want to go again court for various reasons, but they are always “opposing counsel”. Opposing counsel, at least to me, gives the impression to the jury that you are being respectful of the other attorney regardless of the fact they are fighting against you. Even Patrick, who has no legal or juror experience, thinks “opposing counsel” is infinitely nicer and more respectful than anything else.

3. “May I approach?”– My professor (he deplores being called professor) is very strict on asking “may I approach?”

4. “Plaintiff offers into evidence…” As far as I know, this is “standard language” for courtrooms

5. “No further questions”-I guess this isn’t really a courtroom nicety so much as the easiest way to say “I’m done questioning this witness”

6. “I pass for cause”-I had the hardest time figuring out what this actually meant. Typically in voir dire, it means you don’t see any juror with an obvious bias or statutory reason for not serving on the jury.

7. “May it please the court”-Definitely an etiquette thing but I can’t really imagine what happens if it doesn’t please the court.

While some of these may be regional or depend on the judge, I’m interested to see when these come up in practice. I’m really nervous that I’ll forget something like this and make myself look like an idiot in court. I guess judges may expect young lawyers to make mistakes. I just hope I’m not one of them!

Bribing myself to go to class

I’m terrible with having the “I just don’t want to go to class feeling”. I give in about 50% of the time and skip class which is AWFUL for attendance. Seriously, please don’t do this. For this semester, I figured out a great way to make sure I go to classes.

I love spending money. I love having money in my checking account and knowing I can go out and buy what I want, when I want. Money in my savings is great in the long run but I’m an instant gratification girl when it comes to money. So here’s my bribe: if I miss a class for any non-legitimate reason (we’ll get into that), I have to put $5 into my savings with the memo line reading “You missed ______ class”.

It’s so sad to go into my savings and see my transfers say “You missed Payment Systems”, “You missed Admin Law”, etc. It’s fantastic to see the number going up but the reason, not so much. As for legitimate reasons, they are far and few between. If I’m really sick, called to court, or have a job interview, those are the only reasons I don’t have to pay. I’m called to court so rarely it’s almost never an issue, I don’t get sick all that much, and seriously, a job interview?

Now, I’m not saying don’t save money. You should be putting away a set amount as often as you are able to. I try to put away at least $50 a month, if not more. The extra $5 for missing classes is just extra money that I’m no longer allowed to spend. I absolutely do NOT transfer money out of my savings unless it’s an emergency or I’m saving for something specific so it’s just more money in the bank long term. It’s pathetic I have to bribe myself to go to class some days, but everyone has bad days and if this is the best way for me to go to class, so be it.

Change of Heart

I’ll be honest. I started classes absolutely hating torts. It was boring, tedious, and I just didn’t like the subject matter. I started classes adoring property and civil procedure. Oh my, how things change.

As classes get more challenging, I have had a change of heart on the classes that I enjoy and classes I dislike. Now, I adore torts and hate property. It’s not that my like or dislike of a class comes from the class itself but the substantive matter of the class.

Torts involves two people. Their actions, motives, decisions, and thoughts all interact with the law and create a situation where the possibilities are endless, in terms of what the action could have been. I love the real side of the law and seeing how things could have been avoided based on how a person reacts.

Property, eh not so much. While sometimes property involves the actions of two people and their decisions. The big part of the class right now, possessory estates and future interests, is all about giving property away. It bothers me that everything could be avoided if something was written differently or explained differently.

Who knows, I’ve had a change of heart after a month, maybe I’ll have one again next month. Either way, I can’t imagine I’m the only person who hates the same class they originally did and loves the class they originally did.