Yeah, that's the way I feel every day at the firm! And honestly, I want to just shoot straight with our clients and tell them exactly that instead of beating around the bush and faking like I know what I'm talking about. Because I don't. I never know what I'm doing, but slowly but surely, I'm starting to learn. Thankfully, I not only can preface any statement to clients with this disclaimer, but am also technically obligated to tell them: "I am not your attorney. I am not AN attorney. I cannot offer you formal legal advice. Here's what I can tell you: _____. Oh, and by the way, you still need to talk to one of the four [real, licensed, official] attorneys." But yesterday in court and at the mediation I went to, I got mistaken, not once but twice, for being an official attorney. That's one mistake I don't mind, and besides, give it a year and it won't be. (I'm so excited!)
But I'm telling you, there's never a dull moment. Today I got yelled at by a client about how I and my coworkers need to "have integrity," etc., etc. (comes with the territory in the legal field, but girlfriend, please!), worked on a custody case, and got assigned to prep for a trial for a huge--and I do mean huge--medical malpractice case. Obviously I can't talk about what the case is actually about, but I've been assigned to research all the medical issues to determine what the actual standard of care was in the given situation, and how the doctors deviated from the standard of care, and to basically become a go-to expert in the firm on all the medical and scientific issues in the case. Working on all these personal injury cases has made me really appreciate all those biology and anatomy classes from high school, because believe me, they're coming in handy, especially when I'm given an assignment like the one I got last week: go through all the client's medical bills, and make your best determination as to what bills actually resulted from the injury/ accident, and what bills were entirely unrelated. Sounds pretty simple, but I was doing a lot of Googling to figure out what resulting medical conditions relate to what kinds of physical trauma and injury.
Law school is great and all, and I am not one of those people who supports ditching the whole institution in favor of just passing the bar exam, but I have to say that I have learned more in the past two weeks than I probably have in the past 2 years of school--BUT, that said, I couldn't be doing what I'm doing now without what I've learned from my classes. But there is no better way to really learn jurisdiction than to have to sit down and figure out what court, in what county, you can actually file an action in (and trust me, it is not that easy to know). There's no better way for me to reinforce what I learned in civil lawsuits than to actually have to figure out how to write a pleading in such a way that it would survive a 12(b)(6) motion, or to learn the rules of evidence than to have to determine if a certain expert witness would pass the Daubert standard. And I use my domestic relations class constantly, mostly with working on child support and custody issues.
So, I never really know exactly what I'm doing and I've had to get used to feeling stupid about 47 times a day, but hopefully eventually it will become like second nature. And this week I got such a great compliment from someone in the office: She said, "Your clients are going to absolutely love you, because you just make people feel so at ease and they just light up when they talk to you." I sure hope that's true!