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Heather O’Connor is a 3L. After a seven year marriage and three kids, Heather went through a divorce that left her questioning what to do with her life. She decided to become an attorney and has never looked back since beginning the long journey. She entered a local community college after...

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Getting Called On

Posted by Heather O'Connor on 02/12/2010 at 01:26 PM

The first few weeks, or maybe even months of getting called on was scary.  I was envious of those people that could be in the hot seat and it seemed like just an ordinary conversation between them and the professor.  That person is not me.   Whenever I get called on – correction, whenever I hear the professor even start to say, “Ms. . .” – I can feel my blood start to boil and all the facts, issues, and ideas I had about any particular case just start floating out of my brain.   And then someone else gets called on instead of me.   Everything comes right back, and it’s so much easier to sit there while someone else is talking and be able to critique the case and what they’re saying.   However, when the name called is mine, the initial reaction of feeling like I should crawl under a rock and hide stays because it is now my turn in the hot seat.

 It’s strange though because I never used to get nervous about speaking in front of people.   In fact, growing up skating, I performed in front of people all the time.   When I knew people were watching me were the times when I would do my best.   However, something happened in law school.   I can hear my voice tremble and my hands will shake so bad I’m afraid to type my notes in case someone notices my lack of control.   I still haven’t figured out what it is, but it happens every time.   I learned quickly that if you raise your hand and volunteer information, you won’t get called out of the blue as often – and offering information keeps you a little more in control of what the conversation consists of.  That’s not always the case, as some professors (uhhhmmm … Ritchie) will take the fact you raised your hand as evidence that you must want to remain in the hot seat, saving the person that was there before you because you have now voluntarily thrown yourself under the bus.

 I have wondered why I seem to get more nervous now than ever before.  Is it because this is the final step of my education, and after this I am off into the real world to actually represent real people?  Is it because I am second guessing my ability to understand this law stuff?  Is it because I have somehow developed some anxiety about how I look or how I sound in front of people?  I’m not really sure.  I think in a way it’s because I over-analyze everything.  I have been given the advice, and I am really trying to apply it to myself, “You just can’t care.  You have to stand up there and give it everything you got.  If you fall on your face, who cares?  You tried.  Act like you know what you’re talking about, even when you’re not sure.  But if you really don’t know, ask.  It never hurts.”  Well, I got to get to class, and even after writing this, I still hope today is not my day in the hot seat.  =)