Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Every year summer comes to a close, and every year I feel as though I didn’t take advantage of the time. I didn’t write enough. I didn’t see enough friends. I didn’t visit enough new places. So, the beginning of each new school year is tinged with lament.
Luckily, I have the best job in the world.
I get to show up every fall to a new crop of motivated, energetic, and brilliant law students. And, being a clinical educator doubles the pleasure. Second year law students are taking a course of their own choosing for the first time in their law school journeys. They are eager to get to experience learning they feel is relevant to their interests. So, being a clinical teacher means your students are not only finally nurturing their passions, but they are doing it in a different way than law school generally allows. They are in the trenches, getting their hands dirty, working with actual clients to make a difference.
Third year law students may have already enjoyed the privilege of participating in a clinic or they may also be experiencing hands on legal practice in school for the first time. But, whatever the case, third year students are in the midst of their last opportunity to take classes. That means they are often giving something new a try or making a mad race to get the experience they’ve been meaning to have, but have been putting off. Whatever the case, whatever they do, they do it with abandon because for most of them there is little consequence to taking risks at this late point in their law school career. And, being able to take more risks also makes them a little more relaxed. It’s kind of a perfect combination.
So, these students show up fresh and excited to see me. The rush I get from their enthusiasm is incredible. Suddenly, I am no longer thinking about what I should have done and didn’t do over the summer. Instead, I’m consumed by what we are doing together. I’m thinking about what else we can do as the semester progresses.
Mostly, though, I’m learning about these students. I’m learning who they were, who they are, and who they want to be. I’m coming to a better understanding of what they want out of their clinical experience and how I can help empower them to go get it.
The learning doesn’t stop there. Every semester a few students think of a solution I’ve never heard before to a problem I’ve encountered several times. Or, a person tweaks an old approach to a subject that changes the way I think. Or, someone asked a question that is critical to how I understand my subject matter, but that I’ve never considered before. It’s truly joyous to be shown how much more I have to learn. It is a blessing to receive a new influx of students to remind me how lucky I am to do what I do.
That’s just one of themany perks of the best job in the world.