The Red Ball of Courage

Two things happened on the first day of school: I started my third year and I was called to brief a case.

The whole experience felt like a game of dodgeball; my name being called was equivalent to seeing the giant red ball heading straight towards me. Do I dodge the ball, do I catch the ball? If I catch it, do I try to through it back? Or, is this simply going to end with it bouncing unceremoniously off the top of my head?

Now to be fair, I knew I was going to be called. Professor Raban tells everyone when he’s going to spotlight his or her reading/dodging skills well in advance. What I was not anticipating was begin able to take more than three steps past the redline before I was lined up in his sights. Plus, he has a wicked trick-shot. When I realized I couldn’t understand his question, I realized the ball he launched at my head was spinning and had acquired spikes. Maybe it’s because he could sense my nervousness or maybe it’s because he had a really good cup of coffee, but when I made a mild retreat by way of asking him to repeat the question, Professor Raban generously gave me an extended rephrasing and together we got through it.

So at this point, some might ask how I could possibly feel so nervous after three years of schooling? Truth is I’m not actually a 3L; I’m still a 2L. Last year I took MBA class as a part of my duel degree. Now, this isn’t a story about why someone would want to put law school on hiatus, this is a story about what you don’t think about when you do: The RETURN. When everyone talks about getting a duel degree, or even an out of town externship, no one ever really talks about what it’s like to come back.

So what was it like to return? To return to the dodge ball theme, I’m not constantly being struck out the 1Ls, my hand eye coordination isn’t as good as the 2Ls and I’ve yet to developed a great shoulder roll to safety like the 3Ls. Of course, that is only in reference to the cold calling and other in-class activities. Reading the cases is something altogether different. At no point in time did I ever consider the fact that leaving for a year would affect my ability to read cases, much less brief them. I won’t lie, I did have to look up how to brief a case.

It’s not learning, it’s relearning, which sometimes makes it difficult to ask for help because theoretically, I’m expected to be an old hand at this. Plus, it is getting better. Once, I even gathered up the courage to through a ball back at the other side. So in conclusion, my advice to anyone who is in this situation – or, thinking about putting themselves in this situation – is that upon return, just keep moving.


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