Observing Court Through the Eyes of a Rice Law Law Clerk

Court observation is extremely useful for law students, as it helps to cement legal rules in an aspiring attorney’s memory. I have been fortunate to work for Rice, Amundsen & Caperton, PLLC because the attorneys make every assignment into a learning experience, including allowing clerks to observe court every Friday morning.
In law school, a student reads for eight to ten hours a day in books, and listens to professors illustrate the rules from cases during class. This is learning the broad concept of the law, but leaves much to be desired in the memory retention department. In college a student will cover and be tested on around six or seven chapters of a book in a test every few months. In law school a student is tested on the entire book in a single test at the end of the semester. Thus, law students are essentially asked to memorize and recite five books of law for five exams in two weeks. This practice leads to students doing something called ‘short term memorizing’ the legal rules in order to pass tests. The typical law student will quickly learn just what is needed in order to survive, and then forget the information so as to move on to memorizing more the next semester. This makes the actual practice of law crucial for a student to really retain legal concepts.

Nothing cements legal concepts as much as watching them in practice. The law clerks at Rice, Amundsen & Caperton, PLLC are all hired from the pool of students at University of Memphis School of Law. The law clerks are offered the opportunity to assist in drafting motions and then watch them be argued in court. This active interaction with the law brings it to life. Difficult subjects (such as civil procedure) become clearer when watching an attorney argue them live and in person. Many judges and lawyers often state that one of the best things a law student can do to ensure they will succeed after graduation is to observe court. The cases change every few minutes on a rotation of attorneys through the courtroom door, and as they change the student learns each new set of facts, issues, and rules of law.

Later, when the student sits down to take her perilous law school exams, she will inevitably have a moment where she cannot remember the standard for alimony in a divorce case. Then she will remember watching Larry Rice arguing before the court on a Friday morning, and it will all come flooding back to her. Thank you to Rice, Amundsen & Caperton, PLLC for helping us learn!

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