I happens every year. The students come in, look cautiously around the room to find where they can sit, straighten their new suits, then begin to present their arguments. Of course I’m talking about first year appellate arguments. I had this rite of passage myself, and I’ve come back each year to serve as a judge.
There’s something very enjoyable about being a judge for this kind of event. First, it’s a change from the ordinary; for a few minutes, you get to be the one asking questions, and being somewhat “authoritative.” But beyond that, it provides a great sense of satisfaction. As a judge, you’re not just sitting up there in a robe throwing questions; you’re helping these students at the very beginning of their education to become better attorneys. During oral argument weekend, reality changes. The focus is not on donations, or bar passage rates, or job placement rates; it’s solely on the students and how they perform in the moment. Especially in a time where the future is particularly uncertain, and anxieties are high, it’s even more important for first year students to have some direction and guidance. And it does mean something: four years later, I still remember my own argument, and what a wonderful experience it was.
Thank you, 1Ls, for allowing me to take some part in your journey to becoming attorneys.