Friday, March 4, 2011

Close Encounter of the Judicial Kind

I think judges are like the superstars of the legal world. They are admired and respected due to their knowledge and experience. When I was in law school, I had a few opportunities to meet and interact with judges.  One instance was particularly humbling (and not in a good way). I was volunteering on a Saturday for a training that was being held at my law school. I arrived bright and early at 8 that morning to assist the organizers of the training any way I could. One of the organizers was a judge.   I introduced myself to her mentioning that I was a volunteer ready to help.   She also introduced herself and said she looked forward to working with me.  I have never forgotten the next two sentences she said to me. It has stayed with me all these years.  She said, “First, I have a very important task for you to do.”  I had my pad and paper out ready to write my first important task as assistant to this judge.  She continued, “Here’s $5, can you run and get me a cup of coffee?”  I was volunteering, so I was aware I’d be doing some menial tasks.  I am not sure what I thought she was going to ask, but she emphasized that it was very important and so I took the request seriously.   When I realized this request was one for coffee, my heart fell a little bit, humbled.  Anyway, I took down her order and grabbed the coffee for her.  

Another example of an interesting interaction I had with a judge was when I was applying for judicial clerkships during my third year in law school.  I applied to clerkships in the city where I wanted to live and practice.  Since I was not as willing to be broad in my search, I knew my chances of actually getting a clerkship were much smaller.  However, I like to think positively and I thought that my existing connection with the city would bring my favor with the judges with whom I was applying. I was honored and also humbled with the Chief Justice our State Supreme Court offered me an interview!  I spoke with previous interns and I met with Career Services. This was the chance of a lifetime for me and I did not want to mess it up. I even did mock interviews and prepared for this interview like I would any law school exam.  I arrived early and waited for the Chief Justice’s Administrative Assistant to get me.  I was ushered into his huge office, shook his hand, and was asked an array of questions, a few of which I had prepared the answers.   I left the interview feeling like I did the best that I possibly could and the rest was up to God.  I did not ultimately get the clerkship; however, it was an honor just to be able to get the interview.   

I think most law students will encounter a judge at some point in their legal career. One thing that I learned is while we should respect those who serve on the bench, we should keep in mind that they are human beings just like the rest of us with talents, flaws, and maybe even a few idiosyncrasies!

Do you have any interesting judge stories?

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