Skills that Count From the Classroom to Practice

By Hunter Wildrick

When I stepped into the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office on the first day of my summer-after-1L internship, I was filled with emotions.  I was nervous, excited, and questioning whether I would be prepared for the job.  As I sat down at my desk, I was presented with my first task: writing a memorandum in opposition to a motion to suppress drugs found on the defendant at the scene of the crime.  I had a moment of anxiety… I had never written a memorandum that would be presented to an actual court before.  I took a deep breath, sat back, and thought about what I had learned in that first year of law school.

I ran through all of my 1L classes in my head.  First, I thought of my least favorite class . . . contracts.  That wouldn’t help me here.  Property and civil procedure wouldn’t help me.  Torts would be irrelevant.  Constitutional law might help, although we didn’t speak much about the criminal procedure aspect.  Criminal law wouldn’t help me because we didn’t discuss suppression matters in much detail.

I then thought about my Legal Practice Skills course.  I learned how to write for the busy legal reader in that class.  I realized I would have to rely on the skills that I learned in Legal Practice Skills (LPS) to research the issue, and write a coherent motion.  I started by researching, using the skills that I learned on Lexis and Westlaw.  Once I found a good case, I shepardized it.  I had plenty of material to work with!  I wouldn’t know how to do that without LPS.

Once I finished researching the issue, I began to think about writing the paper.  That oft-said acronym popped into my head.  CREAC!!!!! Conclusion, Rule(s), Explanation of the law, Application of the law, Conclusion.  My worries started to simmer away.  I developed the skills in LPS to be able to successfully present a memorandum of any sort to the attorneys in my office.

When I handed in my completed memorandum in opposition to the motion to suppress, I was pleased with the finished product.  It took me two days to complete.  When the attorney read over my memorandum and met with me to discuss it, he started by saying that he appreciated the meticulous organization that the piece had.  He said it was easy to read and follow the issues, and that I covered all of the bases that needed to be touched upon in arguing for the Commonwealth.

For all those 1Ls out there, I can tell you that no matter what type of law you want to go into, Legal Practice Skills will be the most important class that you take in your first year.  There, you develop a basic skill set that every lawyer needs to succeed.  As long as you paid attention and tried your best to improve your legal writing and research skills, no summer internship will be too daunting for you.

Hunter Wildrick is a student at Suffolk University Law School.