They say 1L is the busiest and craziest year of law school, but I’d have to argue that the period between the last month of 1L and the first month of 2L has been the busiest, craziest, and best period of law school so far.
It all started when I finished exams for the spring semester last May. Time to relax? No way! Just a day later, the journal competition opened up. This is a two-week period when you showcase your Bluebooking and note-writing skills in order to be selected for one of the journals on campus. While the competition technically lasted two weeks, I had only four days, since I was traveling to Uganda for my summer fellowship just a week after finals wrapped up. I wasn’t sure yet what the Internet situation would be like there, so I went into overdrive and worked nonstop to get my materials in on time, all while trying to fit in a visit to my family down South.
Fortunately, I submitted it all the same day I boarded my plane for Uganda! I had the privilege of spending 10 weeks as an International Law and Human Rights Fellow through NYU Law’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice as an intern with the Human Rights Network for Journalists in Kampala. Below are my five favorite parts of my summer there:
- The people. This summer, I was able to meet, work alongside, and learn from several amazing Ugandan attorneys and human rights defenders. On my first day in the office, I made a cool connection with my colleagues—as both American and Ugandan law derive from British common law, we all had actually learned some of the same cases in our law schools (thinking of you in particular, Raffles!). Even on my first day living and working in such a “foreign” place, I instantly felt at home. I came away from the summer with several lifelong friends and mentors.
- The work. My work this summer centered on fact-finding, documentation, legal analysis, and advocacy. I also focused on developing program initiatives around conflict-sensitive reporting and enhancing the safety and security of Ugandan female journalists. I was able to meet and work directly with several journalists we were representing in either civil matters or in a criminal defense capacity.
- The food. My office had its own garden, and the HRNJ cooks prepared a fresh Ugandan meal every day for lunch. Each day, the meal included a special local dish called matoke, which is prepared from a type of starchy banana only found in East Africa. By the end of the summer, I knew my Ugandan delicacies pretty well!
- Nature. I spent a few weekends away exploring some of Uganda’s national parks, including camping and safari drives at Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo, and Murchison Falls National Parks.
- Boda-bodas. The #1 mode of transportation around Kampala is the boda-boda, or motorcycle taxi. I much prefer this to the NYC subway these days!
Just two days after returning to the US, it was time for Early Interview Week (EIW). Along with hundreds of my fellow NYU Law classmates, I made the trek to the DoubleTree Hotel in Midtown, preparing to interview over as three-day period with 26 different law firms for their summer associate programs next summer. I was still quite jet-lagged, and it was hard to believe I had been in Uganda just a week earlier. I was already interviewing for programs for next summer, and the previous summer had just ended days before. Jet lag and hotel stairwells and hallways aside, I enjoyed EIW more than I expected to for the following reasons:
- Catching up. I saw so many friends I had not seen since last spring. It was great to chat about our summers between interviews.
- Meeting attorneys. While I was technically “interviewing,” I genuinely enjoyed several of the conversations I had with attorneys from various firms throughout the process. I also am so excited about the program I will be joining next summer. While the sheer number of firms and interviews can seem daunting in the beginning, the process itself really does work!
- Law firm swag. From highlighters to pens, cookies to fidget spinners, umbrellas to packing cubes, tote bags to portable cell phone chargers, water bottles to free professional headshots (time to update that LinkedIn profile), most people come away from EIW with an assortment of goodies bearing the names of various law firms. I likely won’t need a new water bottle ever again!
It wasn’t until early October that I felt like I could breathe again for the first time since the spring, even though I was in the middle of my fall courses. It had been a hectic six months, but the most rewarding six months of law school so far. My legal education has been such an adventure, and I am not even halfway through yet!