After 5 semesters of late night studying, writing, and the never-ending stress of finals, I decided to spend my last semester of law school in a semester-in-practice (SIP). SIP is a program where you work for class credits in lieu of taking classes. Not only do you gain invaluable experience working in the legal community (and numerous networking opportunities), but there is NO FINAL EXAM!
Since I only needed 11 credits to graduate, I am working full time (for 16 weeks) clerking for a judge at the federal courthouse and not taking any classes. This is the best way that I can think to prepare to enter the working world after I graduate in just 2 short months. Not only that, but I get to spend my days working closely with the judge and her law clerks researching and writing opinions.
My first day at the job I got to sit in on a small trial. Since then I have gotten to see a jury trial, multiple motion hearings, and initial criminal matters such as initial appearances and detention hearings. I am fortunate to be able to see many attorneys arguing their motions, meaning that I get to witness a variety of styles and see what is effective and what is not.
I would recommend that everyone do a SIP during their 3L year of law school. This experience has been a huge learning one for me. I have improved my research and writing skills significantly, and I feel a little more prepared to enter the legal community now that I have some experience. Plus it has been great to end my day at 5pm and spend my evenings and weekends with friends and family and generally enjoying the last semester of law school without the worry of studying and finals looming over me. This was by far the best decision I have made during my three years of law school!