Noe Merfeld

2L Year


September

Last semester all of the then 2Ls said that 2L year is by far the most challenging. Well… it’s week 7 and I am here to report back that they are in fact correct! 2L year is dynamic because you get to choose your classes and have more flexibility in how you spend your time. There is not as much pressure to “focus on just school” because hypothetically you have the basics down. But with more freedom comes WAY more responsibility. There are constantly things on my to-do-list between classes, student organizations, on-campus interviewing, and work. Reviewing class material seems impossible because I’m barely keeping up with the material required for class. So far I would compare 2L year to running on a treadmill or a being a hamster on a hamster wheel. As I look ahead in the semester it seems like there won’t be a brief pause for me to catch my breath, so I’m crossing my fingers that more time finds its way into my schedule. Cause at this rate, 2L year is kicking my butt.

October

It’s officially sweater weather, which means our days of sunlight are over. While I would have liked a few more weeks of crisp fall leaves, this gloomy winter weather indicates that the holidays are almost here! And you know what that means… the end of another semester! To say I’m ready for the end of the semester is an understatement. Law school really tested me these past few weeks between having appellate brief drafts due, planning BLSA’s Halloween Party, preparing for and participating in the in-house mock trial competition, and preparing my street law students for their mock trial competition. On top of that, classes were a drag and didn’t get any easier. But I made it through and onto the other side of October. 2L year remains my hardest year, but I’m hoping that the last couple of weeks was the worst of it. I don’t ever recommend taking 5 classes in a semester on top of extra curriculars. All of the classes that I am taking are great (well, most of them), but it’s a lot to juggle when each professor assigns reading like their class is your only class. So, my registration advice is to consider not only whether or what type of final a class has, but also the amount of reading that will be assigned. Work smarter, not harder.


November

The end of the semester is finally here! 2L year has been extremely stressful, but I am feeling better this finals season than I was last. I have one closed book final, and the other two are a take home and an open book exam. Yay! Although I have been busy studying, I am much less stressed than I was a few weeks ago completing my appellate brief for Legal Writing II. The appellate brief was a huge assignment, but it feels great to have gotten it done. After that was complete, oral argument was the next and final step. Signing up for the first day of oral argument was the best decision I made because I was done with Legal Writing before thanksgiving break, which meant that I could enjoy my break. Taking sixteen credits this semester has been a struggle, but luckily it was front heavy with not a lot of finals to prepare for. I was struggling to keep my head above water there for a while (aka the whole semester) but now that classes and all of my big assignments are complete, I just have to tackle finals!


December 2018/January 2019

December was a much-needed break from school. I spent a lot of time relaxing, watching tv, and catching up with friends, but I also spent equal the amount of time preparing for mock trial. We had practices and scrimmages almost every other day to prepare us of the 4-day competition in Las Vegas, Nevada. The competition was conveniently during the first week of classes and even though it wasn’t technically a vacation, we did get to enjoy some sun.

We made it all the way to the semi-final round, ended up placing 3rd in the overall mock trial competition, and will be going to nationals in March! Spending the first week of a law school semester in Vegas might seem a bit crazy, but it was totally worth it. The best part about it was that it was a BLSA regional mock trial competition, so the regional convention was going on simultaneously. After months of hard work, we walked away with 3rd place in mock trial and our BLSA chapter was named Regional Chapter of the Year! Three of our members, including myself, were also elected to the regional executive board. Needless to say, it was a busy weekend!

Since returning, my day-to-day coursework has been a bit uneventful compared to Vegas. Most of my time these past two months has been spent working on BLSA stuff and diving into my externship, so refocusing my time is going to be a bit of a challenge. I am taking two classes and am doing a part-time externship, which has been a blast so far. I am looking forward to this flexible schedule and hopefully many more exciting things to come!


February

I am happy to report that it still kind of feels like winter break. We got over 2 inches of snow this month, which means the city of Seattle completely shut down. Grocery stores were complete chaos, cars were slipping and sliding all over the road—it was mayhem. We got about four snow days over two weeks and there was a holiday this month as well. So it’s safe to say that I still have no idea what day it is.

One thing I have been able to do consistently is go to my externship. I am seven weeks in at the Washington Defender Association and it has been a great experience so far. I am specifically working with the Incarcerated Parents Project, where I have been working on a lot of interesting projects, including creating a reference chart for incarcerated parents who want to make temporary arrangements for their children. There are a lot of potential policy changes happening in this area this legislative session, so my hope is to break those down for people and help clarify what the current laws are. This project has been fun because I get to take really complicated (unnecessarily complicated if you ask me) statutes and case law, and boil them down to laymen’s terms so people know what to do to make temporary arrangements for their children.

The law is a powerful tool, but it is terribly overcomplicated. I came to law school to do my part not just in changing the system, but in the meantime uncomplicating it so that more people have access to it. This externship is allowing me to do that by applying the legal concepts that I have learned in law school in a practical setting—helping incarcerated parents navigate complicated policies and procedures.