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Over the past few weeks I have been able to see two important sides to being an attorney. First, a divorce attorney must be tough and able to stand up for their client when that client is unable to do so. Secondly, a divorce attorney must be compassionate and understanding of the client’s position and what the client is going through emotionally.
Friday started off with the opportunity to see first-hand how tough and intimidating a lawyer can be by attending motion hearings with Mr. Rice. While opposing counsel began to cry during the hearing, Mr. Rice maintained his ground in a very professional and respectful way, never letting opposing counsel’s actions throw him off his game.
Later that day, I got to witness the compassionate side of being a divorce attorney. A client came to the office for what she thought was a meeting to discuss her case. It was the day before her birthday and the office had purchased a gift for her - a pink tool belt and tool kit! She was so excited when she opened her gift. After the excitement died down a bit, we all sat around and laughed as she told us stories from her day. She told us that coming to the office was “the best part” of her day.
When you make mistakes in law school, they are generally of minor importance and only effect the person who made the mistake. If you make a mistake in a paper or misread a question on an exam, you might see a reduction in your grade; however, if you make a mistake in the “real world,” the consequences affect everyone. More importantly, the mistake may affect the client.
Mr. Rice told us that everyone makes mistakes but what matters is how you handle them. The first thing a clerk should do is report the error. It is easier to fix a problem if it is caught early. You can not let the fear of getting into trouble stop you from reporting the mistake. Second, do what needs to be done to fix the error. Ask for help if needed. Third, learn from your mistake and move forward.
When I first learned that I would be a clerk at Rice, Amundsen & Caperton, I knew that this position would offer a wide variety of experiences in the legal field. I never knew, however, that being a clerk at a law firm could teach me more about legal procedure and practice than I had learned in my first year of law school. Mr. Rice makes certain that the clerks witness and learn from every thing that goes on in the firm. We have been able to accompany Mr. Rice to court on several occasions to witness the result of motions or petitions we have drafted.
The legal community is very different than what I had anticipated. There are so many things that law school can not possibly prepare us for and having the opportunity to get real world experience is exciting.