On a whim, I opened my personal statement for the first time since hitting ‘submit’ nearly a year ago. Preparing to face my tendency to over-write, a habit which lends itself to often-cringeworthy grand pronouncements, I queued up the Aspiring Public Interest Lawyers Greatest Hits: “Is It Still Worth It? (After Signing that Promissory Note),” “Oh, Really? You’re Going to Save the World?” and the classic, “Naiveté.”
Instead, I came face-to-face with the prospect that the young, impressionable, wannabe lawyer nursing the cheapest drink on the coffee shop menu in exchange for five hours of Wi-Fi knew everything he needed to know.
See? Grand pronouncements.
Sure, one year ago, I would have failed every single first year course. I couldn’t brief, or outline, or read, or write, or even speak effectively. My Lexis points stood at zero and I had nary a dollar of Westlaw Starbucks gift cards. Every one of my classmates would have prayed to the almighty curve I was in their section. One year ago, I was a terrible law student.
“I don’t have a voice. But when you speak on my behalf, I get heard.”
As a law student, I don’t usually consider myself to be in a position of power or influence. In fact, I usually feel quite intimidated, whether I’m with a professor during office hours, trying to sound intelligent (when I’m actually utterly confused about the subject), or at a job interview, doing my best to persuade the interviewers that I’m a worthy candidate (while trying not to shake and stutter from anxiety).
So when my client Joseph* said those words to me, I practically burst into tears. Me? A mere law student? Give him a voice?
I am pleased to host a Q&A with Andrew Trombly, ’14, who gives his insights on his clerkships with Judge Paul Barbadoro, USDC, District of NH and Judge Robert Bacharach, US Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit.
Why did you decide to apply for a clerkship?
I thought that clerking would offer a good opportunity – particularly for somebody just out of law school – to write a lot and to learn about a wide variety of areas of law. Also, I wanted to observe the judicial process from a judge’s perspective. Short of actually becoming a judge, clerking is probably the only chance a litigator will ever have to do so.
“I think you’re going to see more young people running for office for the first time in these next elections than ran for the first time inspired by President Obama’s success. … In my experience on the presidential stage — a tour that was shorter than I would have hoped — it seemed that anger and fear were the animating emotions of the entire election.
It has been and continues to be a privilege to witness some of the most vulnerable moments of a person’s life, to stand with them, and try to help. The young people with whom I’ve worked have radically different stories than my own, and I imagine different from most law students. My years spent working with them have shown me that while ongoing assistance and intervention in domestic, educational and religious environments is crucial, it can only do so much in the face of a legal system which, for example, occasionally punishes children for problems for which they are not directly responsible. These young people deserve someone fighting on their side who has walked alongside them and experienced a piece of their story. Here are three that have stayed with me. I’ve changed names, but otherwise told them as they happened.
When Jackson’s foster mom dropped him off at the ER, she gave the nurses a piece of advice: don’t let him play dinosaur inside. This was passed along to the director of the behavioral and mental health unit at a different hospital where he ended up, and was repeated to every staff member who worked with him: no dinosaur inside.
What’s it like to be a judge?
It’s my sixth week of working for Judge Dineen Riviezzo of the Kings County (Brooklyn) Supreme Court. Judge Riviezzo hears felony cases and Article 10 civil confinement cases. Also, every Friday, she’s in charge of the juvenile offender part, where she hears cases involving 14, 15, and 16-year-olds who would normally be heard in Family Court, but because they commit certain serious crimes, are heard in Supreme Court (but are often afforded youthful offender treatment).
View of Brooklyn from the Judge’s chambers
So far, I can say that being a judge requires three major qualities.
First, it requires patience. Whether it’s dealing with an attorney’s mistake, sorting out a disagreement between the parties, or waiting for a defendant to be produced or parties to show up, I’ve learned that for judges, every day is a test of patience. Continue reading
Editor’s Note: Alex Porter will serve as the President of the Boston College Law Students Association for the 2016-17 academic year. Much like his predecessor, Alex embodies the very best qualities that BC Law students have to offer. As a member of the Boston College Law Review alongside him, I know for a fact that as incoming students you will be in very capable hands. Without further ado, I am very pleased to present his welcome letter to the Class of 2019.
President-Elect Alex Porter (second from right) along with three of his classmates.
Congratulations on your admission to Boston College Law School!
This August, you will become the newest (and most celebrated!) members of our truly extraordinary community. It is a community that eschews one-size-fits-all happiness because we choose instead to value the whole person. Here, it matters that you were the captain of your track team in college, or served as an aide to the Secretary of Transportation, or had first-hand knowledge of tort law due to an unfortunate car accident. Here, whether your family came on the Mayflower or whether you just stepped off the plane from Bangalore, your classmates will want to know – and will value – your story. Please understand that this doesn’t mean an easy ride; you will work harder than you ever have in your life, and you will be challenged to achieve more than you thought possible in the classroom and beyond. But you will do it in a supportive, caring environment that lifts you up so we all get there together, rather than tearing you down.
Friendly competition can be a great thing, but cutthroat competition is not, and we won’t stand for that here.
BC Law’s Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) hosted its 28th annual auction last Thursday at the offices of Morgan Lewis in downtown Boston. The auction is PILF’s biggest event of the year and is always well-attended by students, professors, and alumni.
As a 1L attending my first PILF auction, I found it to be pretty awesome for two main reasons.
Name: Samantha Lyons
Year: 3L (Class of 2016)
Undergraduate institution: University of Michigan, Class of 2009, graduated cum laude with a B.A. in History of Art
Experiences between college and law school: I worked for two years as a legal assistant in the antitrust department in the DC Office of Skadden Arps, and for another two years as Skadden’s Pro Bono Coordinator.
Name: Katie Horigan
Year: 2L (Class of 2017)
Undergraduate institution: Clark University, Class of 2013, graduated magna cum laude
Experiences between college and law school: In the year between graduating from undergrad and coming to law school I received my master’s degree in history.