An Addendum to 1L v. 2L

I preemptively submitted my blog post without really comparing 1L v. 2L. Whoops. Is the stress of upcoming finals getting to me?

Speaking of finals, one jarring difference between 1L and 2L is NO READING WEEK. Northeastern has retracted the hand that held us through our first year and now expects us to manage our time in a way that forces finals-preparedness the day after classes end. And deservedly so! No reading week forces efficiency in note-taking, attentiveness in class, and regular review of the law. I think its even possible that the absence of reading week has made me a better in-class participant!

A second difference between 1L and 2L is the new 1Ls. Weird, right? I don’t remember if my friends and I were like this, but 1Ls are extremely studious and have that study group thing down! There are hordes of 1L study groups in the library discussing the prior appropriation rights of water, the “this-just-doesn’t-feel-right” feeling of the Learned Hand formula, and how to establish personal jurisdiction over a non-resident. I’m just waiting until they get to the Erie Problem. [Evil laugh] Most of the time, the students are getting it right (at least, according to my memory!). I’m impressed. I don’t remember being that smart, especially at that stage in the game.

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about 2L is working as a Research Assistant for Professor Lucy Williams, who is absolutely brilliant. I am helping her research and summarize international cases to support her work with ISERP, the International Social and Economic Rights Project. I have been reading and condensing cases from the Constitutional Court of Colombia (in Spanish!) which have promoted and effectuated human, economic, and social rights. It has been so great to work closely with a professor and learn an area of law that isn’t directly accessible through the offered curriculum.

The last difference I want to talk about is class size. With the exception of the classes tied to the LSSC program, all of my 1L classes were large lectures of roughly 60 students. This year, none of my classes have more than 25 students. This means extra attention, extra focus, and the ability to treat discussion in a seminar fashion. Small classes really support the ways in which I learn, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to the discourse more frequently.

The downside of having smaller class sizes is having a smaller class AKA half of your class is on co-op. It’s weird not to see those people in your Law Office who you spent hours and hours with by choice (and sometimes, not by choice). I miss my 1L study group, most of whom chose the opposite rotation as I did; but, it is really fun to hear the things they are doing on co-op. For instance, one of my friends is writing opinions for a Justice on the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts and another is working with the Innocence Project in New Orleans. And while they are picking classes, I’m gearing up for my next co-op. Stayed tuned for more info on that!

 

1L v. 2L (NUSL 2012)

fun

fun (Photo credit: hodgers)

 

The rumors were true. If you survive 1L, the rest is downhill. The work is still there, classes are still demanding, however things are manageable and – dare I say – fun? (Don’t talk to me in 6 weeks when I’m doing exams.)

 

I’ve had a great start to 2L year. In August, I wrapped up my first co-op in the Immigration Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services. It was very difficult to say goodbye to the hardworking attorneys and the clients with whom I developed relationships. Funny story: A client from GBLS called me last week just to say hi. He was just checking in, letting me know how he and his sister was doing and to thank me again for the work I did on his case over the summer. I was so excited to hear from him and was SO embarrassed that it took me 4 minutes to register who it was.

 

  1. Being a Research Assistant for an inspiring professor.
  2. Electives!
  3. Buying a scooter.
  4. Getting geared up for Co-op #2.

 

A co-op update

 

A co-op update, brought to you by Amy Pimentel, in the Immigration Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services.

Working in legal services is both challenging and wonderful. It is undeniable that the attorneys at GBLS do some of the most important work there is to be done in our field, and they utilize their interns like we are indispensable assets to them and the clients. Feels SO GOOD to be needed.

I have 6 cases I’m working on this summer, each with its own equally tragic story of violence and persecution in the home country. My clients are primarily indigenous people from Guatemala who were viciously targeted on account of their race, political opinion, imputed political opinion, and membership to particular social groups. They all have warm, keenly perceptive personalities with inherent loyalties to their family and greater community. It amazes me that they have the emotional capacity and trust to tell their very personal stories to a complete stranger (me). Oh, and none of them speak English! It’s a good thing I spent a year in Honduras learning Spanish or else I would feel extremely inadequate.

Being exposed to refugee and asylum law in this very hands-on, real-life kind of way has been extremely challenging and eye opening. Every client that walks through our office door has a story to tell, and it is our job to tell it to a judge, back it up with the best corroborative evidence we can find, and ardently represent our clients. It is work that requires passion, patience, and tenacity. I absolutely love it!

Most of my days are spent interviewing clients, gathering evidence, and writing court memoranda and affidavits. Sometimes (rarely) I get to go to court, and believe me, I jumped at (and beg for) the opportunity to observe a hearing. I almost lost it when my supervisor asked me if I was interested in representing one of my clients before an Immigration Judge during his Master Calendar Hearing. For those unfamiliar, Master Calendar Hearings are short, sweet, and to the point. You state your name for the court, hand the judge papers, your client receives frivolousness warnings and a date for their individual hearing, and then you go on your merry way.

I was ALL OVER IT.

Donned in my new Banana Republic suit, I walked my client over to the court, waited in the courtroom for 2 hours until his A-number was called, and then passed the bar. (Yes!) Things were looking good and I was a total natural, that is, until I screwed up. I misspoke. Turns out its not the end of the world when you mess up in court. The judge was surprisingly supportive. She smiled and said, “Are you suuuuuuure you don’t mean 2012?” “Yes, OF COURSE that’s what I meant… your Honor.” We got the date for his next hearing – November 2013. I’ll almost be a real lawyer by then. Maybe I’ll be back!

There are many things that have surprised and wowed me about this co-op. Besides judges being understanding of first-time jitters, I have been impressed by:

  1. The amount of work to be done. Our office is stacked, floor to ceiling, with boxes and files. All open cases. It’s incredible.
  2. The ways in which I’ve been mentored. Sample memos, pep talks, historical explanations, check-ins, etc. All of the makings for a great first co-op.
  3. Donuts on Fridays. I tell myself I hate donuts so that I don’t eat them. Lying to yourself can only last so long.
  4. The solidarity and vibe of the unit. It’s a big family, clients included. There are children running around, attorneys collaborating, birthday parties, and going away parties. Did I mention donuts on Fridays? I hate donuts.
  5. The dedication. People come in early, stay late, work through lunch, and camp out on the weekends. There is so much to do and not enough time and people to do it all in a very structured, 9-to-5 day. All hands are on deck all the time. There is nothing more inspiring.

 

Good Day to be a NUSL Student

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley ...

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley speaking at Faneuil Hall in Boston (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley, delivered the keynote address to jump start the Pathways to Practice class. She spoke with us about her path to becoming the AG, issues of professionalism and ethics, and her 6 tips for success at our first co-op and in our future career. Not only was she extremely personable, knowledgeable, and intelligent, she is really funny too! I also loved her bright orange blazer.Bennett Klein, Senior Attorney and AIDS Law Project Director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) spoke with my Constitutional Law class about the current fight for equal rights. He was counsel in Kerrigan & Mock v. Department of Public Health, GLAD’s 2008 victory in the Connecticut Supreme Court ruling that the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional. Super informative and inspiring.

Great day to be a 1L at NUSL!

 

Open House Volunteering

I am so excited that NUSL had such a successful open house for admitted students last weekend. It was my first open house, since I was unable to attend last year, and as far as I could tell, it was a well-attended, high-spirited event.

I was staffed at Voucher Table, which was fantastic. Not only did I get to meet prospective students, but also I got to see them smile when I took their receipts for reimbursement of travel expenses. $250 is so generous, and I think everyone was pleased!

The positive buzz during the event was contagious. Even though it was 8:00am, rainy, and cold, the conversation was full of much sunnier topics – co-op, camaraderie, and school pride. Many professors and alumni were in attendance, which made the reception hugely informative. Even more, there was free food to go around! I heard the bacon-wrapped scallop was pretty amazing. That’s probably why I couldn’t get my hands on one!

I must say that the Class of 2015 is going to be bright. Really bright! I was asked thoughtful questions about NUSL, heard stories of past work experience, and was impressed to hear the multitude of reasons for wanting to go to law school. In these conversations, I reminded myself why I wanted to go to law school – an extremely important exercise, especially with finals only a month away.

That reminds me – no time like the present to start outlining!

Cough Cough

Being sick in law school is the pits. Once one person in your LO has the sniffles, you know its only a matter of time that you have a Rudolph nose and are carting around travel size tissues, sister-made chicken soup, and Nyquil. 4-day bug is definitely going around, and I think I’m on the upswing.

Best tips I’ve heard for fighting away the law school sniffles:

  1. Treat your body right. Tea, fruits, veggies, soup, love, and sleep!
  2. Call in favors from your friends. They’ll share their notes if you can’t get out of bed.
  3. Email professors (especially if they have asked) to let them know you won’t be there. Nothing worse than being cold-called and absent.
  4. Carry tissues with you at all times. There is a disturbing lack of tissues available.
  5. Wash your hands. Duh.
  6. Get sleep over finishing your reading! If you are groggy and foggy in class, you won’t understand what’s going on anyway.
  7. Theraflu, Theraflu, Theraflu.
  8. Orange juice, Orange juice, Orange juice.

A restorative weekend of sleep, eating well, and more sleep is just what the Doctor ordered. Should be fresh as a spring chicken come Monday!

2012 Resolutions and Updates

I’ve never had a New Years Resolution that I took seriously – especially one I took seriously enough to admit having it in the first place. But 2012 will be different. In 2012, I’m holding everyone accountable for my New Years Resolutions – because if you know them, then I can’t deny having them and I have effectively spread the responsibility of following them. I made them short, simple, and easy to remember. Here they are:

Eat more veggies

Do yoga

Take pictures

Work hard

Practice kindness

Simple enough, right? We’ll see…

From what I hear, second semester of 1L year is a lot less stressful than first semester. They tell me I can already sort-of speak law, my ability to read cases has improved, and I know what to expect as far as cold-calling and final exams. I’m crossing my fingers these aren’t lies to make me feel better. What does make me feel better is that I have accepted my first co-op position for this coming summer! I’ll be working at the Greater Boston Legal Service’s Immigration Unit. The office seems fast-paced, laid-back, and all around fantastic. Plus, I think I’ll get to practice my Spanish!

I’m in the middle of LSSC Social Justice Intensive Week. It has been a great opportunity to focus on getting a large chunk of our project done while getting cozy with my Law Office in the NUSL library. We’re working hard, taking few breaks, and letting our fresh brains and attitudes carry us through the week.

As my second semester books are slowly coming in the mail, I’m trying to get the last Hunger Games book finished (read them!) and do more “fun things” before the work begins. Last weekend, I baked cookies with my sister and ate so much dough that my stomach hurt. There’s nothing like warm, fresh cookies on a cold winter day. So, I took a picture of the fruits of my labor and then ate veggies for dinner. Consider that 2 checks on the Resolution list.

Image

Thanksgiving Break Grind

I hate to be a downer, especially with delicious plates of turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce just mere days away. But with this Thanksgiving break approaching, I can’t help but keep my eye on the stuffing prize… GET MY OUTLINES DONE!

You read that correctly. My goal for Thanksgiving is not to catch up on sleep, but to understand the difference between Subject Matter and Personal Jurisdiction, to memorize the different theories of causation, to itemize the Purchase and Sale agreement used in real estate transactions, and if there is time, to catch up on sleep. I hear this is pretty typical for a 1L. I guess I’m not the exception.

Vacation is a nice idea; and time-off to “get things done” sounds like the more practical approach. I’m looking forward to family time, but I’m also looking forward to feeling prepared for the last few weeks of school.

Speaking of giving thanks, I am SO thankful that I go to Northeastern. In light of a recent New York Times article, law firms are reporting that despite $150,000+ and 3 years spent on a legal degree, spring-chicken lawyers are simply not prepared to work. The article states:

“Law schools know all about the tough conditions that await graduates, and many have added or expanded programs that provide practical training through legal clinics… One 2010 study of hiring at top-tier law schools since 2000 found that the median amount of practical experience was one year, and that nearly half of the faculty members have never practice law for a single day.”

Well, David Segal must not have spoken to anyone at NUSL. We don’t have trade-school anxiety  or professors too concerned with their articles to excel at teaching. In fact, all of my professors share practical, real world experience. One even teaches us things we can use to impress our future employers. And on top of everything, in order to graduate, every student is required to work 4 internships! We are field-trained before we go out in the world and more prepared and more able to do the work we will be hired to do! Now that’s something to be thankful for.

T. G. I. Co-op!

Let the blogging begin!

My name is Amy Pimentel and I hail from Altoona, Pennsylvania, home of cornfields, Sheetz, and Penn State Football (ugh). I graduated from Duke University in 2007 as a Political Science and Spanish major. My first job out of school was at a legal public relations firm in Washington D.C. where I managed internal and external communications efforts of a handful of AmLaw 100 firms. After 2 years in D.C., I moved to the jungle of Honduras to teach English in a small community. And now I’m here, a few months in to my 1L year and LOVING it. Really.

I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer – before I even knew what being a lawyer was (or how much school I’d have to do!) As a third grader, my best friend, Rachel, and I decided we were going to be “rich lawyer that didn’t work.” Because we had so much cash to spend, we decided to start designing the mansion we would build together. More on that later. As I journeyed through junior high and high school, I feel in love with the TV series, Ally McBeal. My dream of becoming a lawyer started to clarify – I was not only going to be a rich lawyer that didn’t work, but I was also going to live in Boston and have lots of inter-office drama. (Do you see where this is going?) Eventually, I got serious and realized that law would be the vehicle through which I would make my dent in the world.

You may want to know…

  1. I still don’t know what type of law I want to practice. I’m curious, perhaps to a fault. Everything I’m learning is interesting, so I’m really excited that I will have 4 co-ops before I have to decide!
  2. I’m a morning person and borderline worthless after 4pm. This bodes well for my Thursday 530-730pm class. Read: sarcasm.
  3. I am a certified Zumba and group-fitness instructor. I’ve been teaching for almost 5 years and would do it full-time if it paid the bills.
  4. I have taken a love to photography and have a very fancy camera that I’m learning how to use. Keep an eye out for my amateur photos! I promise they won’t just be of the library.

I’m really looking forward to writing and sharing my experiences with the community.