I emailed my boss at the firm I worked for last summer asking him if he might need a legal intern for this summer. He talked it over with the other partners and then made me a job offer! I feel kind of bad landing this summer job when my friends who are graduating cannot find employment after law school. I feel really lucky that I have the opportunity to work at this firm again, that I can continue to build my relationship and rapport with the partners as well as continue to prove myself to them. The best part is that I genuinely like the firm. And the partners. And the associates. And the firm culture. And the cases they assign me.
But I don't feel like talking about the job because I don't want to make my graduating friends upset, even though I know they will be happy for me. How did I get so lucky? Really, why me? Why not my friend on law review? Or my friend on the Dean's List? Or my friend with experience working for a Big Firm? I think in law, a lot of opportunities do arise based upon your connections and who you know. Because I think you can be the smartest law student in the entire planet but if you don't have experience working on actual cases, if you don't have a pleasant or at least tolerable personality, or if you can't demonstrate your ability to work in a law firm atmosphere, then you are going to have a hard time.
I still can't decide if law firms like confidence that is borderline arrogance or if they prefer people willing to be trained. I am usually so timid and shy but I have to say that my legal work experience has boosted my cofidence in a way that law school never could. 1L year of lawschool made me feel like the tiniest organism to ever have lived. I felt so stupid and incompetent. My grades first semester reinforced those feelings. I went to law school with the goal of keeping my merit-based scholarship and making the Dean's List. After 1L year, my goal was to PASS.
Then I worked for a small law two-attorney law firm. I learned the ropes of carrying on a lawsuit and I perfected my legal research skills. I wrote memos and arguments and MY WORK was inserted into REAL motions. And motions were GRANTED based upon my research. I realized that "hey, I really CAN do this law stuff even though my grades are mediocre, at best." It's funny that my legal writing grade was just adequate and yet I went on to write arguments which eventually got my firm a win or two. It's true when they say law school is nothing like practice. You can suck at law school and still do great legal work.
I was surprised to learn that not only was I pretty OK at pretending to practice law, but I actually LIKED it! All this experience working for my hodunk, humble law firm gave me a huge confidence booster. This translated to a little more success in school (although grades are still mediocre). And my experience gave me the confidence to apply for a position in a law firm that is two steps up from hodunk. And with a paycheck that is three steps up from hodunk.
Now I am a 3L, and I feel pretty smart. I am miles away from the timid useless feeling 1L I used to be. I know what a Tort is. I know what a partner expects when he gives you a legal research assignment. I know how to write a motion. And a complaint. I know some very basic litigation strategy. I know how to write a law exam (it really IS a skill you have to learn). I know the importance of billing. And I feel that, armed with my trusty Westlaw account, there isn't a legal question that I cannot argue in my favor.