The words left my mouth and I instantly knew they'd come out too hastily. I had snapped back at a classmate who, in her own frustration, accused me of talking to the one attorney in the clinic that night out of turn. I immediately tried to apologize but she was too worried about her client who had been sitting with no answer for at least 20 minutes. So I sighed, turned back to the attorney who was ignoring my classmate for the moment, and wrote down her instructions.
Every Tuesday I volunteer to offer legal help to domestic violence victims. The first week or so the questions were simple and basic. What form do I need for a protective order? Can I take my child out of the country if his dad has custody and refuses to sign his passport? Where is the courthouse? I was cocky enough after this experience that I actually told a friend it was somewhat frustrating to do all the work and have the supervising attorney take credit.
This week was a doozy. And I realized just why being an attorney requires three years of intense study, bar certification, and a few years of practice in a firm or under a mentor before you're ready to go it on your own as a solo practitioner.
Because as a second year student, I had absolutely no idea that if your ex-husband got you to sign divorce papers under fraudulent pretenses the next step is to submit a motion to dismiss with a supporting affidavit. I also had no absolutely no idea what your client should tell the judge if your abusive husband has been deported and so you can't find him to serve him with divorce papers. And I definitely had absolutely no idea what to say when a woman my age, a stay-at-home mom with a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old and no education and only a few months work experience at Petsmart whose husband has all of their money in his name and cheated on her so she now has zero money and zero job prospects, looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "This isn't how I thought marriage was going to be."
And that's when I also knew divorce law probably isn't going to be for me..
One field of law down, 100 to go. I'll figure out what I'm doing eventually.