Here’s the pesky thing about legal clinics: real clients don’t take finals.

The clinic is one of my favorite parts of law school. Basically, they’re set up so a real lawyer takes clients in a legal-aid style setting, and then law students like me get to help that real lawyer prepare cases. It’s a win-win-win, in theory: the real lawyers get lots of student help so they’re able to take more cases and do a more thorough job, the law students get real-life legal experience and professional training and advice from real lawyers, and the clients get the benefit of a legal team full of enthusiastic, interested law students instead of a legal aid attorney who has too high a case load to fully address the needs of each client.

In practice, we enthusiastic law students sometimes drop the ball. This would be one of those times. I am currently supposed to be working on a subpoena for some records we need for a hearing taking place on December 22. I have a final on Thursday, another one on Saturday, and two papers to write in the interim. At the time I volunteered to write the thing, I was all cheer and optimism. “Sure!” I thought. “Writing a subpoena will be an awesome study break when I’m tired of administrative law! And I’m always tired of administrative law! Perfect!” Now that my exams are two days away and I realize that this client is going to court on the 22nd whether I get my shit together or not, my thinking goes more like: “Shit. Shitshitshitshitshit. I am totally going to screw this client’s case because I was afraid to fail administrative law.”

Journals take breaks for finals. So does moot court. Do you think a judge would be interested in hearing an argument along these lines: “your honor, we respectfully request a continuance while our eager-beaver law student assistants crawl out from under their exam-induced rocks and start fulfilling their responsibilities on this case” ?

Yeah, I don’t think so either.

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