Law practice takes work. Despite all the pressure you feel during finals and all the cases you read during the year, nothing in law school really prepares you for the finer details of practicing law. How do I draft discovery requests? How do I prepare for a conferral call with opposing counsel? How do I build a reputation in the legal community? How do I set expectations with my clients and coworkers? How do I work as a team with other attorneys?
All these lessons I learned in clinic, and it was tough. The first thing that hit me was the pace of practice: it’s fast. You constantly have to keep an eye towards the future and stay ahead of deadlines or it can drown you.
Second, working relationships matter. It takes work and communication, but when the deadlines are quickly approaching and the work seems insurmountable, having someone sitting next to you on a Sunday afternoon furiously drafting a crucial final brief is invaluable.
Finally, I learned to manage expectations. This begins by learning the pace at which you work. You can only learn how fast you can get something done by doing it. That’s what clinic does for a law student. It lets you actually do it. Once you have a good sense of your pace you can then manage expectations of both clients and coworkers. I cannot stress how important this is. Both of these parties rely on the timeframes you set, and not meeting deadlines makes you look bad. Being able to deliver on your promises is everything.
You struggle, make mistakes, and feel like a fish out of water, but it gets easier. Clinic taught me that and provided a safe environment for me to make mistakes and look stupid because, lets face it, we all are going to have to go through it.