I have been doing internship for quite a while now, and i love it, not only because i am kept busy during this insanely long holiday, but also because i am going through a new experience, which i am excited about because for me, every experience comes with lessons to learn.
Here are a few things i have learned from internship(so far)..
With the right mind set, every one can handle the courtroom.
Some law students do not want to get into litigation. These are divided into two categories;
For the first category of people, it is because they are just not interested in the whole “appearing in court” idea- which is very okay because it’s someone’s decision.
For the other category, its because they ‘fear’ what comes with litigation, probably fear to fail a client, or be pinned by a judge, or just the nervousness that comes with doing something like that for the first time, well, for this category of people, the goodnews (from my observation) is, i believe everyone can handle this with the right mind set, because i believe perfection in litigation comes with experience, and the only way one can have that experience is by practising.
Whenever i attend sessions, i watch with admiration, the calmness with which these lawyers handle their cases.
The magistrates are not as difficult to the lawyers as i had magined them to be, generally, the atmosphere is not “terror filled” or something like that.
So, the first time jitters and all will so be there, but with time everything falls into place. So, if you were fearing litigation, consider giving it a shot. It could turn out to be ‘your thing’.
What you think is not really what you get.
This is for the legal movies and series lovers like me, most of us (Law students) watch all these legal movies and series like Suits, The goodwife, Reckless etc.. and we want to be as sharp and swift as all those lawyers we see or seal cases as fast as they do, and more still, we imagine court will be that way at some time when we are there, but hey.. eye opener.. what you see in those movies or think is not really what you get..
Leave all the fast action for The good wife, reckless and scandal.
Here, In these Ugandan courts, these cases really drag. You know its Uganda; alot of issues here and there. From lack of police files, to lack of witnesses, to accused not being in court, to investigation officers not being in court, same witness all the time, counsel for one of the parties not in court, endless list.
So adjournment after adjournment will be the order of the courtroom on such bad days. Then two weeks after, the same cases are up, and sometimes with the same problems, then more adjournment, it really drags..
Depending on the magistrate and the vigilance of the accused, the case will either be closed or the adjournments will go on.
This was a huge concern for us, the internees, so when we were given the opportunity to ask the State Attorney a few questions concerning what we had observed about proceedings, ofcourse all the above concerns came up, and his answer was simple.
He said; “you guys think we are unserious or unprepared in court when you see such things happening. But you only think so because you are very enthusiastic students. When you come to the field, you will understand why these things happen and realise they are actually normal”.
Then he went ahead to tell us how, during his very first trial, he wanted everything to be perfect, he brought his A game to the court room, and started getting agitated when the “Harvey Spector” stunts he was pulling off(my own emphasis) were not being appreciated by the judge. The judge had to cool him down, and brief him about how the field really works sometimes.; not all days are good days.
Some people actually need to be there to be motivated.
Atleast this has happened for me, because honestly; reading those endless Acts, cases, enormous books, and listening to horrifying stories about LDC was not helping so much on the motivated part of it. You how you are so inspired to do something, but then you listen to one horrifying story from one lecturer who graduated from LDC not so long ago, and then the motivation is all gone.
This has changed with internship, all i had was less than a week of attending court sessions, and i felt so motivated and inspired just by watching the lawyers go about their bussiness in the courtroom.
Also, during interactions with some of the other internees, they confess they have gotten more inspired and motivated to get into practice through internship.
There is just something about watching these guys do their thing. You know that something that tells you that in about 5 years that could possibly will be you. Motivation yes!.
Your personality affects your courtroom.
True talk people. I do internship under mainly two magistrates.
Their personalities are total opposites of eachother.
One of them is extremely reserved, calm and quiet, she is efficient and smart, and does her Job well but sort of has a boring courtroom; even an interesting case will become dull when she Is presiding.
You know those sessions that literally command you to critically analyse all the dps and statuses on your whatsapp contact list, play candy crush until all your lives are finished, look through all the pictures in your gallery, only to snap back to reality to realise that she is still reading the same judgement. (Okay, a little bit of an exaggeration, but its kind of that bad).
Hearing “case adjourned for lack of this and that,” Or better still, “court adjourned” during her sessions is like having christmas thrice a year.
The other magistrate is very out spoken, dramatic, attentive to detail, no nonsense attitude, and that is exactly how her courtroom is.
One of the people i intern with refers to her as “the magistrate who inspires”.
Her courtroom is the go to place. It makes one really feel “they are in a courtroom”.
Her sessions are full of life, she handles her cases not only with deligence and efficiency but with alot of humor.
You know of any stubborn, bigheaded criminals? Pray and fast that their cases land in her courtroom because she was designed just to handle that stubborn type the best way they deserve. Her judgements are usually accompanied with a meaningful but hilarious “piece of advise” to the criminal.
In summary, working in a court house can be either cool or uncool depending on the type of person you are.
You know it’s government work; which in Uganda means: work starts by 9:00am or later, then ends by latest 5pm, weekends are holidays, public holidays are treated with maximum respect,
So if you are the type who gets fulfillment by working your head off from early morning to late in the evening, and still carry sme work home(yes, there are people like that.), then go into private practice.
If you are the other type, then you know where to go.
That’s all for this post. More to come.
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