Law School Intern

     When the prosecutor asked me if I wanted to do more meaningful work, I had to stifle the urge to shriek like a giddy child.
     As an intern at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., my primary duties to that point could be summed up in two words: gopher boy.
     If I was at the courthouse, another prosecutor might urgently signal me over, as if there was some grand mission that she needed me to undertake, like, I don’t know, draft her closing argument.
     “Can you take this file back to the office for me?” she’d say, handing me a stack of preliminary hearing transcripts.
     What invaluable experience! My previous summer job – weed-whacking for Parks and Rec – was just as rewarding.
     But now, after complaining about these menial tasks, I was offered Real Work: The deputy U.S. Attorney I had been assigned to graciously had me sort through a file in a murder case and create a witness list based on police reports.
     “Then give it to Yvonne so she can type out subpoenas,” he said.
     I pored through the file, found addresses on the computer and typed up the subpoenas myself, because, you know – how cool is that?
     Maybe it was too much authority for an intern. One of the witnesses I’d subpoenaed actually had nothing to do with the case.
     Boy, was she surprised! This was in 1989. But with more than one homicide happening in Murder Capitol every day, odds were she’d seen somebody murdered.
     Why not haul her in?
     Perhaps the most memorable thing about that internship was seeing The Who at R.F.K. Stadium, without Keith Moon but with a living John Entwistle. While some already called them geezers back in ’89, I recall the middle-aged rockers being spry and youthful – and that observation has almost nothing to do with my current age bracket.
     I returned to Indiana for my final year of college, getting closer to what I expected to be a tough but rewarding stint in law school. But it turns out you really do have to study for the LSAT.
     On the day of my exam, as I read a question about Eduardo, sitting across from Denise, who was three seats down from Ben, I stewed in my seat, thinking: “Puzzles? What the hell does this have to do with going to law school?”
     What about Plessy v. Ferguson? Oliver Wendell Holmes? I’d read F. Lee Bailey’s book the year before. How about a question about the Boston Strangler?
     To hell with this, I thought, figuring I could rely on my stellar grade point and my impressive D.C. title to get me into – just for starters – Northwestern. (Ivy was nice, but Chicago had grown on me.)
     Unfortunately, there was a recession, and a whole lot of out-of-work college grads decided to apply to law school that year. And, get this – apparently, they studied for the LSAT. Bunch of conformist nerds. So even the “safe schools” that I had mocked rejected me, presumably while laughing maniacally.
     But, hey being a lawyer isn’t all that great. Remember “The Firm?”
     Who needs that kind of trouble?
     As time passed and student loans deferred, I decided my post-college job selling shoes wasn’t as fulfilling as the ad had claimed. So I went to grad school for journalism, got a job with a newspaper and found myself doing interesting work in … courtrooms.
     If I couldn’t be F. Lee Bailey, I could write about him. Or write about stranglers. And because I was once an intern at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., I’d have no problem walking before a judge and proclaiming that, based on my personal observation, Pete Townshend is one of the greatest guitarists ever.

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