Twenty-three students, enrolled in the Judicial Process in Trial Courts Clinic and class, recently started their work with judges throughout the Massachusetts trial courts. Below, some of them reflect on the impact of their first days with their judges and confirm the value of leaving the classroom for the courtroom.
“My first day in court had a more profound impact on me than the mere opportunity to see and hear things I had only read about in books and learned in the classroom. Experiencing firsthand all the elements of a trial, albeit only for the closing arguments portion of it, as one living whole rather than discrete parts to be analyzed in the abstract made me rethink my attitude toward the “practice of law” and indeed helped me appreciate the fact that law is not only a subject area to be studied in law school but a “practice” and a way of life. This insight has both humbled and reinvigorated me, and I hope that during the remainder of my internship I can continue to broaden my understanding of the law and my capacity to practice it.” — Aaron Seong, J.D. ’18
“I could see in the hearing and the briefs the disparity between the quality of prosecution and defense in low-level criminal cases that I have read about for years. It confirmed my prior expectations that the criminal justice system is a hard place for defendants. This type of experience is one of the reasons I wanted more time in the courtroom.” — Nicolas Mendoza, J.D. ’18
“[my judge] was, in a word, dazzling. She casually listed the legal issues she was concerned about, slipping effortlessly from one to another while I struggled to make mental notes. It was in this moment that I fully appreciated the need for focus, commitment, and diligence in chambers. … I left the courthouse eager to come back the next day…”
— Marina Shkuratov, J.D. ’18
“During lunch, we all discussed both the upsides and downsides of each side’s argument and what each party could have done to improve their case. It was a great opportunity to understand what made an effective argument from the judge’s perspective.” — Gawon Go, J.D. ’17
“[my judge] is incredibly kind and helpful. I can tell that he enjoys working with law students, and he took the time to answer any questions I had. The work in interesting, and I know that what I work on actually matters. It is not “busy work” . And I learned a great deal from simply watching my judge and the attorneys that appeared before him.” — Caleb Wolokek, J.D. ’17
“Overall I had a challenging and eye-opening first week in court. I learned a lot and I am looking forward to the coming months. I think I underestimated how challenging it may be to become involved with criminal trials involving real defendants and victims. I think the clinic will be good preparation not only in terms of learning about rules of evidence and procedure, but also in learning how to deal with these more difficult, interpersonal aspects of being a trial lawyer.” — Nasheen Kalkat, J.D. ’18