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I am a 3L, originally from Watchung, NJ. I received my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Rhode Island where I completed the honor’s program and majored in Women’s Studies. My senior thesis was titled “Sex Trafficking and Decriminalized Prostitution in Rhode Island.” I served as the co-...

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My Summer in DC Part II

Posted by Melanie Shapiro on 07/15/2010 at 02:52 PM

In less than a month I will be gearing up for my second year of law school.  I cannot believe how time has gone by and how weird it is to me that I’m starting 2L.  Stranger yet, I can’t imagine how it will feel to see so many new faces in August and watch them embark on the epic journey of 1L year, a time both vivid and seems long ago.  To the incoming 1Ls: Welcome, I look forward to meeting you all, feel free to ask questions, and enjoy the rest of your summer!

My summer internship has been challenging and rewarding- an adventure at the least.  What I have learned has been unconventional for most legal internships -- some of the most important lessons have come while pushing myself through a late night session with my mentor working on a memo, learning how to deal with broad-ranging personalities and egos, meeting but a few of the many heroes of the human rights movement, and expanding my horizon beyond sex trafficking to also include pro-democracy initiatives, religious freedom, North Korean policy issues, obstetric fistulas, interfaith and national solidarity in Pakistan, internet freedom, improving domestic and foreign prison conditions and getting a handle on bureaucracy in Washington—and seeing how all of these initiatives work towards the larger goal of a “Wilberforce Agenda,” an agenda that has the power to unite a country that is fractured along party lines and hardened ideological stances, with a set of bi-partisan human rights initiatives.  The namesake of the 2008 reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, William Wilberforce was the great leader of the British Abolitionist movement and reformer who cried: "So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did the [slave] trade's wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for abolition. Let the consequences be what they would: I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition." His courage and passion for the plight of others has been called upon by the great leaders of our country and has served as an inspiration to me since I read his biography during undergrad.

The legal, intellectual and political lessons of my summer experience have come from many mistakes punctuated by a few bright successes—the result of setting aside self-doubt, letting my gut direct me, and welcoming criticism as but a stepping stone in my legal career and personal development.   One recent lesson I’ve learned and something that I think many people struggle with is this: We are an outcome-generated society and your client is not going to care about who you called, what you did or how many hours you put in, they want to know just one thing: Will we win or lose? Efforts don’t matter unless paired with success.  So I am trying to use my time as efficiently as possible.

  I’ve had an opportunity to explore D.C. more.  My partner, Desiree came to visit me after about 40 days apart, for Fourth of July weekend—perhaps the best time to be in DC.  We went all over the place—Great Falls National Park in nearby Northern Virginia, to the Smithsonian, to the Newseum (which I thought was interesting, but a rip-off, because it cost $20 while the other DC museums are free), to Old Town Alexandria, Georgetown, Arlington National Cemetery (where we saw Kennedy’s tomb), saw Eclipse (one of the best of the Twilight Saga movies yet), saw fireworks, and holed up in the hotel room during one of the 100+ degree days indulging in the guilty pleasure of a Cake Boss and Bridezilla marathon.

  My absolute favorite though was the Lincoln Memorial at 11 p.m. I was moved beyond words.  Climbing the 44 steps of the a beautiful marble structure to look up and see Abe Lincoln, who is, in my opinion, one the most important, courageous and interesting American Presidents. The view from the top of the monument at night overlooking the reflecting pool, the National Monument, the Capitol Building (which looks a lot like the RI State House) was breathtaking.

  I feel like there is still so much to see and do before I leave in about three weeks and I hope to find the time to do it.  I am enjoying time to work on a writing project and reading.  Currently, I’m reading The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jefrey Toobin. I highly recommend it.

  Lincoln MemorialWhile I am having a wonderful time in DC, I look forward to returning home to my partner, our 4 cats, puppy, and horse and all the great friends I made at RWUSOL and my home office.  One of the things I love most about my new apartment is that I now have an office overlooking the water.  If you’ve been following me on Facebook at all, you will know that my office space this summer is basically in a supply room. It’s nice to have my own space, but I can’t help feeling like the guy in Office Space.   I’m also looking forward to seeing what 2L is all about.  The nice thing about your second year is that you can choose a couple of electives.  Everyone takes Constitutional Law and Evidence.  The three electives I’ve wound up with are Federal Tax, Legislative Drafting, and Advanced Criminal Procedure (aka “bail to jail”).  I hope everyone is enjoying their internships, classes, warm weather, and some time away.