By Katrina Richards • July 19, 2010•Writers in Residence
In preparation for my first day, I bought a new blouse and ironed my favorite suit. Knowing that I was professionally dressed and looked nice was a little confidence booster that helped me put aside those first-day jitters.
After paperwork and a short orientation with the office manager, I was taken to my new office, where a desk, a laptop computer, empty bookshelves and bare walls were waiting for my arrival. Once my e-mail was all set up, I went ahead and sent the Boss an e-mail to let him know I was ready to work. The first day assignments were mostly research projects and writing political letters. The second day, though, was an entirely different story.
My second day of work started with a visit to the Boss to give him my completed assignment. He then gave me five more cases to work on, including assignments I had no idea how to complete. It is a little scary how much they don’t teach in law school.
Feeling a little overwhelmed, and knowing my Boss had way too much to do than to walk through each assignment with me, I walked back to my office and read through them. There were a few that I could take a stab at without any help, and then ask questions later. With the others, I approached one of the legal assistants. It turned out that she knew exactly how to do most of the tasks I had been given, and she was more than glad to help and to teach me what to do. I was glad that I had already begun following the advice of my Legal Writing instructor: Always be kind and respectful to the legal assistants because they know way more than you, and they are irreplaceable…whereas the firm can always hire another attorney. I decided to bring the legal assistants fresh vegetables from my garden as a “thank you” for their patience.
All in all, my first week as an attorney was much more eventful than working as a judicial law clerk. I met with several clients, saw potential clients, spoke with other attorneys on the phone, and drafted several motions. I even had people cry on the phone and in my office. What surprised me the most was that I got far less emotional than I thought I would, listening to the tragedies that were presented to me. Rather than being stoic or heartless, I was listening with a sober, analytical ear, picking out the elements of a lawsuit from their painful memories. And thinking of ways to help.
Next month, we'll talk about how my kids and husband have adjusted.