17 May 2005

The Job: Day Two

The first day at any job is kind of awkward. It's exciting, everything is sort of different, and time seems to pass very quickly as you absorb all the newness. The second day, though, is where you really get a feel for what the particular job will be like. I guess it's like dates or kisses--talk about a tenuous analogy, huh?

Anyways, that trend was bucked somewhat today. After learning about populating templates (see the Day One post, I refuse to describe it again), and drafting motions, and the other various quasi-clerical duties, I discover that I will only be doing that sparingly. So today was sort of like another first day. You see, I met my judge, and was given a ton of really interesting stuff to do. And, yes, I mean that with sincerity (for once :)).

He's a pretty cool guy, as I've found most judges are underneath all the seriousness. Very seasoned, very intellectual, but a little, I don't know, laid back. He seems to have this Zen perspective regarding his career and life almost--one of those people who commands instant respect, and around whom you're inclined to just sit and listen and occasionally nod, without feeling like an idiot. He actually was one of the three who interviewed me, so I guess he liked something.

After asking me if I was interested in working on any particular thing or in a certain area, and my response that I didn't really have a preference, given my lack of knowledge about property tax matters, he gave me my first assignment. And, I have to say, it's sort of intimidating, but in one of those "oh my God I can't believe I get to do that" kind of ways: he wants me to write his decision on a remand from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. He described the basics of the case to me (all a bit over my head, but I figure the learning curve is steep for everyone), then handed me THE FILE. The monstrosity deserves all caps, because it's about eight inches thick, give or take a yard. It's just chock full of stuff, and he says "skim it over the next couple days, get familiar with all of it, you know." I've mentioned on here before that I have basically no poker face most of the time, but I think I gave the perception of confidence. Maybe that's a typical file, I don't know. He wants the decision to him around next Tuesday, so that will be filling my waking hours for a while. And he was very direct that the final product be concise (four pages), so I'll have to get my legal writing chops (i.e. my non-verbose, non-blog-like skills) back in working order. If I write the decision according to the remand, and presumably it's appealed again, then I'll be able to put on my resume that I had a case opinion that I wrote affirmed by a federal court of appeals.

Needless to say, I'm still experiencing a little shell shock over the whole prospect, but I figure I'll be able to start feeling somewhat more comfortable at some point. Hopefully.

After that task is complete, I might get assigned to work on this huge agglomeration of cases related to a certain ginormous chemical company. I guess it depends on my performance with the first assignment. Overall, I'd grade today as: sweet.

[Days three and four might be a bit boring, since I'll be holed up in "the pit" basically the whole time working--it's one of my co-workers nickname for the tribunal's mini-library, and it stuck for me.]


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