“I was mortified,” she says. “I didn't understand half of the words the Court used. It was like learning another language.”
Today, Nicole, an associate attorney at an eight-person law firm in Waterbury, Connecticut, says the legal lingo has become “second nature.”
During law school, Nicole took advantage of a variety of legal internships to gain a greater understanding of the field of law. During her first summer, she worked at a nonprofit organization, Connecticut Legal Services, where she learned the “beauty of law...advocating for people who can't advocate for themselves.”
While her internships throughout law school gave her excellent experience, she says that her skills were sharpened the year after she graduated when she was selected for a competitive Legal Research Clerkship Program with the Connecticut Superior Court.
How did your experience at the Connecticut Supreme Court better prepare you to practice law?
It was an amazing experience. Similar to first-year residencies for medical school graduates, it was my first-year legal residency. I was immersed in observing court, seeing the Connecticut Practice Book come alive, and writing, researching, and discussing cases with judges. It honed my skills. Every week we were receiving constructive feedback from experienced and esteemed judges on our writing and research.
How did you decide you wanted to go to law school?
I was working in the marketing department at USAToday.com in Washington, DC, and I enjoyed working with the attorneys from the legal department. I liked the idea of working with people and resolving problems. I didn't know going in if I wanted to negotiate contracts, litigate, or explore some other field of law. When I was admitted into law school, I realized that I really enjoyed all areas of the law.
What skills did you gain in law school that makes your degree so versatile?
I would say the most important skills you acquire in law school are writing, researching, learning to communicate well with others, and learning how to negotiate effectively. These are essential skills for a variety of careers.
What advice would you give people applying to law schools?
When I was applying to law school, I knew I wanted to stay near home in Connecticut, and I didn't want to accrue any more debt than necessary. I would tell prospective students to look for a well-respected program, take into consideration the total cost, and look into the possibility of receiving a scholarship.Carlin Carr writes for the bimonthly magazine New England Watershed and for Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She received her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and her M.A. from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and has taught English in Italy and the United States.