First Day At Work

So while the other half of T&E is down in sunny LA, this half is still here in Seattle where it’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey and raining all the time.

We’ve both started work at government agencies – I’ll be working this summer at a county prosecutor’s office here in Washington.  Today was my first day and I am both totally excited and completely exhausted.

I am exhausted because this job is a significant distance away from where I currently live, so the alarm goes off at 5:50am in order for me to be there when the office opens at 8:30am… yeah this is summer break in law school kiddies.

I am totally excited though because this is my Rule 9 summer — the summer where I get provisionally admitted to practice law in Washington under the supervision of a practicing attorney… meaning… I can try my own cases in district court this summer!  I got my Rule 9 card and everything.   The prospect of my very first jury trial (and not second chair either, I’ll be running the show) looming on the horizon is an incredible rush, but it won’t be for a while.

I was thankful to find out today that I’ll be starting slow and working my way up to the more advanced stuff.  I’m starting out on traffic infractions – basically people contesting their traffic tickets, and then I’ll go on step by step till I get to criminal court/misdemeanor district court stuff.

A few things really struck me today.  This job is totally different and strange in three major ways… first, the last two internships I’ve had were working in Felony, so now I’ve gone from felony to infractions, which is like an entirely different world.  Second, my last externship was in the federal criminal justice system – so I’m switching back again from federal to state.  And finally, the last internship I had was in defense, and so I’m back over at prosecution now.  Today was more than a little disorienting!

What really got me though was how even the tiniest and not even criminal matters – the infraction calendar – seemed so intense once I had that Rule 9 card burning against my palm… suddenly even asking people what had happened regarding their speeding ticket felt imbued with this overwhelming sense of responsibility.  This afternoon was the first time I didn’t feel like a law student intern – I felt like a lawyer.

Being suddenly and even only provisionally granted that authority to decide peoples’ legal fates seems to have changed everything.  What was once boring is now enthralling, what was once trivial is now crucial – my focus on the details of each infraction file was intense and fueled by something I hadn’t even noticed growing inside me – a sense of my profession.  Up until today, law school has felt sort of accidental, I just followed the currents and shrugged off the unpleasant parts.  Whatever step I took today, whatever activated inside my mind when I opened the envelope with that Rule 9 card stamped with the seal of the Washington Supreme Court… everything looks different.

It may not sound glamorous (at least not to those who don’t love criminal law like I do) – but I felt a sense of purpose and profound respect for what I was doing, even on the speeding ticket docket.

As I drove home the whole way all I was thinking was, I wonder where it will go from here…