Saturday, April 03, 2004

Two Classes Done! 

I survived the dreaded oral argument. I had been quite nervous about this over the past week, but woke up this morning feeling quite calm about it. The courthouse is less than a mile from the house where I grew up, so I had no worries about finding it. We were going in half hour increments, 2 at a time, so I left early enough to wish the pair ahead of me good luck, and then have time to relax and breathe the air.

I arrived a few minutes before they were to go in, but only one was there. Fortunately, her opposing counsel got there in time, but just barely. The poor thing barely had enough time to say hello, confirm our post argument lunch plans and into the courtroom she went! My opposing counsel arrived about 5 minutes before our appointed hour, so I had 25 minutes to myself to review my notes, the briefs, etc.

He asked if I was nervous, and I said that I had been, but not today. He was just the opposite - calm all week, and quite nervous today. I liked my arrangement better. He also had forgotten to bring a hard copy of his own brief and was feeling like he'd lost his security blanket. So after letting him sweat a few minutes (is that evil?), I passed him the copy I had brought along. He seemed greatly relieved.

I represented the party bringing the motion, so I had the joyous occasion of going first. Instant dry mouth, but I pressed onward. Fortunately, the judge (our writing professor, who is a also full time district court judge) started in with the questions fairly early, so I was able to switch out of one-way presentation mode and into question/response, debate the issues mode, where I was much more comfortable. After I had discussed a particularly relevent case from another jurisdiction, the judge had me take a break so he could hear the plaintiff's opinions on that case and start in on the rest of his argument, then they'd return to me. Phew! A chance to resume breathing and refocus my thoughts.

My opponent was very smooth in his delivery, but lucky for me he left a few openings upon which I could expand, which I did when my rebuttal time came. A few more questions for both sides, and we were done! The judge commented on my opposing counsel's smooth delivery, and on my "excellent rebuttal concerning the KFC case." I'll hang on to that as a small victory.

I joined the previous pair at John Harvard's Brew House for lunch and to celebrate the completion of our last assignment for that class. Add this to the single semester Torts class last semester, and we've now finished two law school classes in their entirety. How many more to go? Small steps. And hopefully many more small victories and friends to share them with.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:04 PM