About the Blogger

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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-...

Melanie's Post

Time is flying

Posted by Melanie Shapiro on 07/05/2011 at 10:59 AM

                A lot has happened since the last time that I blogged. I finished my second year of law school and had a great spring semester. I was in the Immigration Clinic and it was by far the best experience of my law school career. It’s important to understand black letter law, but what really matters are practical lawyering skills.  It’s one thing to sit down and apply law to a fact pattern on an exam, but when someone’s life is on the line, it makes everything learned in law school real. Once a law student passes Evidence, the student is eligible to be a “Rule 9.” That means that you can practice law under an attorney’s license so long as the work is probono. All the student attorneys at the clinics are Rule 9 certified.

 I was fortunate to get a lot of experience during the clinic. I went to court several times and learned a lot about my “lawyering style” and what I like and dislike about the legal profession. My favorite part is getting to know the clients and interacting with them. It feels good to try to help them with their problems. I liked going to court and going out into the community to meet my clients for meetings with social workers or to conduct “know your rights presentations” at the detention center.  What I dislike is the tedious stuff- retainer agreements, keeping the files in order, making the right number of copies, etc. Somehow that’s not so much fun. The Clinic was a great experience—always an adventure. Most of the student attorneys in the clinic were doing it in their third year, but I’m glad that I did it at this point. It really helped me figure out what I want to do and gave me great practical experience. I’m working at the Clinic over the summer to help the summer director manage the cases and am looking forward to returning to the clinic in the fall.

                I’m also a Rule 9 at Rhode Island Legal Services. I’m working in the restraining order unit and getting a lot of valuable hands on experience. I’ve had two contested hearings so far and get to be in court every day.   My supervisor has been a terrific mentor and I love working there.

                In August, I have to take the MPRE – the ethics exam that, in Rhode Island and Massachusetts where I will be sitting for the bar, and in many other states—it is a prerequisite to the bar exam.

                I can’t believe I will be starting my last year of law school already! Time flies. And next fall will be the first time in my whole life that I have not been going back to school. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. At least now I know what I want to do—immigration law and I have some plans.  One nice thing about the last year is that I get to choose everything that I want to take. That said, I am taking some courses that are bar recommended courses that will be difficult for me. I’m taking Business Organizations, Federal Income Tax, Elder Law, State Constitutional Law, and Administrative Law.

                Even though I’m working two jobs this summer, it is nice to be able to go home and leave work at work. It’s funny that I feel like I have such an abundance of free time now, at least compared to during the semester. I hope that everyone had a great 4th of July weekend. I’m looking forward to meeting all the incoming students. I remember how excited I was two years ago at this time. If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me! :)