Law School vs. “the Real World:” What Is Taught in School and What Lawyers Actually Practice

By: Rachael Bakowicz

Law students, myself included, often wonder if what we’re being taught during class translates to how things actually work in the “real world” of practicing law. As a rising 3L with a job search on the horizon, this question becomes more and more relevant. A lot of current law students could list off the grounds for divorce, how to write a conveyance, or describe to you how secured transactions work, but only a few know practical skills of lawyering in the real world. In my final weeks of my scholarship internship with Rice, Amundsen & Caperton, I reflect on the similarities and differences of what I have been taught in school and how things actually work.

Similarities:

            I was fortunate enough this summer to accompany Mary Wagner to the Tennessee Court of Appeals to observe oral argument. As a moot court board member, this was a great experience. I realized during oral argument preparations and actually observing oral argument that what we are taught in law school on how to present an argument, how to answer judges’ questions, and how to write an appellate brief is exactly what is needed in the “real world.” The experience of going to the Tennessee Court of Appeals was invaluable and one of my favorite experiences during my internship with Rice, Amundsen & Caperton.

Differences:

            Another great experience I had this summer was to accompany Nick Rice and Tracy Eaton to mediation. This past semester, I took a course on mediation and participated in the University of Memphis Law Mediation Moot Court team. In class and competition, mediation was a very formal process. Also, since each side was competing for grades, the whole experience was generally very cordial and both sides had the mindset of moving the process forward. In the real world, mediation was very different. The environment was casual and instead of being across the table from the other side, the mediator separated the parties into different rooms and spoke to them that way. Also, my mediation experience had been packed into 30 minute to an hour periods, whereas mediation in the real world can span over an entire day or more. My mediation experience with Rice, Amundsen & Caperton allowed me to see how things work in the real world and I learned great skills to take with me as I move on after graduation.

            These are only two of the great learning experiences I took part of during my time with Rice, Amundsen & Caperton. Fortunately, I will be able to continue these experiences as I work with the firm throughout the fall semester.

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