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Friday, October 27, 2017

Help! I Have My First Case and I Don't Know What to Do!

It can be a bit jarring when a legal intern or new lawyer gets his or her first assignment.  You have a lot of law in your head, but what do you do with it?  You could be first in your class, but you won't have a clue where to file a motion.  If you've studied the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, you may be saddened to learn that your state's rules more resemble the Lord of the Flies than a well ordered system.

Despite all the uproar about law school not being practical, it does not take a law student very long to get her bearings and begin to function in the real world. Provided that you have a functioning brain, you will be fine with a little guidance. The following is a quick list of tools you need to practice law in Connecticut, but the principles apply just about everywhere:

 1. A Phone

No one knows everything. The best way to find something out is usually to ask a human being who does.  Your trial advocacy or moor court professor are good places to start if you do not know any other practitioners.  My first case ever was an appeal and the first thing I did was grab my phone and email my moot court adjunct professor.  That probably saved me a few days of fumbling around. People like to help if they can do it quickly and it feels good to be tapped as an expert - so ask someone in the know.

2.  Your Local Trial Lawyer's Association

These associations provide a list of members who you can tap as resources as well as discussion boards and listserves.  A listserve is a place where you can type your question, select a practice field and your question is sent out to literally hundreds of practitioners.  Practicing attorneys use it and law students can use it for free!

Note: Mind your confidentiality commitments when asking questions.

To Join the Connecticut Trial Lawyer's Association - Click Here.

3. The State Judicial Branch Website - Forms, Help and Electronic Filing

Believe it or not, the Connecticut Judaical Branch Website is really easy to use, mostly because the search box works so well.  This is where you gt all the forms you need in Connecticut state courts.

Click here for the Connecticut Judaical Branch Website.
Click here for tutorials on electronically filing various court documents.

4. The Connecticut Practice Book (or Your Local Equivalent)

This is like the state version of the Rules of Civil Procedure on steroids.  It has a lot more than just procedure; it has just about everything.  The book itself can be a little unruly, but a everyone practicing in Connecticut should have a searchable PDF version, like the one RIGHT HERE (you're welcome).

5. Google

I had to get to it eventually, but honestly Google is a great place to start of you don't know where to start.  One of my first cases was a divorce and I didn't know where to start.  Google to the rescue!