by Brooke, Class of 2016
It is only the third week of my co-op with the ACLU of Arizona, but I have already adjusted to the busy pace and am constantly learning what I see as invaluable lessons. For example, I have tried to make it a habit to arrive half an hour earlier than required, so I have time to make myself some coffee and eat breakfast while getting ready for the day. While I could just eat breakfast at home, this half hour is the only time I can finish things up before the chaos of the day starts and I get new, more urgent assignments. My time at my desk is frequently broken up by depositions and trips to the courthouse, so it is important that I figure out how to maximize my uninterrupted time. In the two and a half weeks I’ve been here, I’ve already gotten to sit in on several depositions and observe court proceedings. I’ve taken to keeping a blazer on the back of my chair at work and in the backseat of my car, because you truly never know when you might need to put on your business face.
by Brooke, Class of 2016
Lots of people think that they need to go to law school in the geographic area in which they plan to practice. But while I know that I want to practice immigration law in the Southwest, I did not want to go to school there. After going to undergrad in Arizona, I was ready for a change of pace, and I was committed to going to a law school with a social justice mission. Everyone chooses Northeastern for a slightly different reasons, but some of the most common reasons are 1) it is a school that promotes social justice at the front of its work, and 2) co-op!
by Jennifer Howard
As officers of the court, fluent in the language, creators of, or at least participants in, its local practices, lawyers sometimes forget that many would-be litigants enter the courthouse with much trepidation and misinformation. While law school on the whole seeks to prepare students for their role as knowledgeable problem solvers, clinics provide students with a unique opportunity to learn about how to use that knowledge to help real people, with real problems. Explaining the legal system is one of an attorney’s most important tasks.
The Domestic Violence Institute at Northeastern University School of Law currently offers students two opportunities to learn to advocate for survivors of domestic violence: one through the Legal Assistance to Victims Project, a new community lawyering project aimed at connecting survivors to legal services at those places they first turn to for help; the other, through the Domestic Violence Clinic, founded in 1991. While both programs strive to educate students about the unique challenges faced by survivors navigating the legal system; it is the Clinic that delivers the chance to advocate in court on their behalf. The experience of direct, in-court advocacy provides soon to be lawyers many important lessons.
Mills v. Wyman, an 1825 Massachusetts case, which is featured in one of the more popular first year casebooks, raises the question of the relationship between law and morality. Incurring various expenses, Daniel Mills cared for a 25 year old sick sailor, Levi Wyman, who then died. His father, Seth Wyman, wrote to Mills promising to pay for those expenses, but then reneged on the promise. Mills brought suit, but the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed a lower court holding that no action lay. Consideration is required to hold liable a promisor, and according to the court, Mills had given no consideration in return for Wyman’s promise; consideration could not consist of past action. Despite their respective holdings, the lower court had termed Wyman’s conduct “a strong example of particular injustice,” and the Supreme Judicial Court stated that Wyman had a “moral obligation” to fulfill the promise. But, to the court, a violation of a “moral duty” was not equivalent to a violation of a legal one. Continue reading
Here is a question that you will never get on a law school exam: “Please state the facts and holding of Smith v. Jones.” Since you will never get that question, why would you organize your outline in this form?
Smith v. Jones
Most law school exam questions consist of new, hypothetical fact patterns. Some of us pull those patterns out of the news and modify them to suit our purposes the way legal dramas on TV do, and some of us just think them up while showering. Either way, you will not have seen the precise fact-pattern before sitting down to the exam. As a result, the answer is not already in your notes, your outline, an outline created by one of your friends, or the outline sold to you by some publishing company that profits off exam anxiety while providing next to nothing in the way of useful analysis. A commercial outline in particular should be conceptualized as a security blanket. It may reassure you to know it’s there, but there is nothing substantively provided by it.