Lessons from a Law Clerk

If you have looked at the “Meet the Press” page on Tax Docket, you know that I am a law clerk at the University of Florida Office of the General Counsel (OGC). I have been the office’s law clerk for almost a year and have picked up on some things that I think may be useful to future law clerks and summer associates. In this first segment of Lessons from a Law Clerk, I will discuss how asking someone outside your office for research or an answer to a question can help you save time and get the information you need.

At the beginning of my stint as the office law clerk, I was under the impression that the answers to all of the attorneys’ legal questions would be found on WestLaw or Lexis Nexis (I was excited about this because I thought about the amount of rewards points I was going to rack up over the course of my job). However, after about a week at the OGC, I realized WestLaw and Lexis searches were not the most efficient ways to get information I needed. Many times I would just get a email forward from an attorney that contained a thread of back and forth correspondence from a number of people. With that email, I would be asked to answer the legal question contained within the message.

Although I was hesitant to do this at first, I have found that the best way to get information sometimes is either to call someone who may have commented on the legal question on the thread of emails you received or call the state department or governmental branch that handles the area of law pertaining to your questions in order to get an answer. However, make sure to ask the attorney who gave you the assignment if it is alright to make a call.

Recently, I was asked to look for an article that all an attorney had was the title of. I replied to the email asking the person if he had a copy of the article and he not only sent me the article, he sent me a ton of extra information pertaining to the topic of the article. I got more than I needed and all I had to do was ask!