Monday, November 27, 2017


Sam Adkisson ’18

I think one of the best things about Yale Law School is how small it is. You've got a nice community where you can really get to know your professors one on one. You can get to know your classmates. And during my time here, I think that's definitely been right.

I also chose Yale Law School because of the intellectual community. I think having the opportunity to work with so many brilliant scholars, to be around so many brilliant students, it was a special opportunity that I'm not sure I could have gotten anywhere else. And that's really been one of my favorite things about my time here.

I'm a member of the Appellate Litigation Project, which is one of our clinical offerings. And so in the Appellate Litigation Project, we get one or two Court of Appeals cases each semester. And we get to brief them from beginning to end, and then a 3L normally gets to argue the case before the Second Circuit, the Third Circuit, or one of the other federal Courts of Appeals. So in about a week actually, I'll be arguing a 1983 case before the Second Circuit.

Being involved in clinics here at Yale, it's taught me you know, one, how to sit down, analyze facts, and solve a legal problem start to finish. And that's something that you can learn some of from your classes, in your case books, but being able to dive in head first and figure that out is something you don't get other places.

And I think the second thing it's really taught me is how to write well, being able to put together a brief or motions and have a practitioner supervise that, redline it, send it back, do a third, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth draft. It really makes you a better writer. You can learn a lot about yourself, what you do well, what you can do better, and ultimately graduate becoming a better lawyer. And I think that's what this is all about.

On the Trial Advocacy Team, we get to travel to competitions around the country with sometimes one other person, sometimes three or four other folks from the law school, and you get to compete. So you do everything from direct examination to cross-examinations to objections and opening statements and closing statements. And it's a nice way to refine one of the skills of advocacy, and one of the skills that's important to the practice of law, and to do it in a way that's a little different from the class work. And so that's been a rewarding experience for me.

So I'm president of the Federalist Society this year. And what we do at the Federalist Society, it's a conservative and libertarian organization. And we hold speaker events, debates on a variety of topics. You know anything that you can think of that might be about law or policy, we want to get folks into a room to debate it, to talk about it, and to build some community while we're doing it.

And that's been one of my favorite things at Yale. And you know folks might think of Yale as a place where it leans left or it leans this way or that way, but there's something about the intellectual community here, where folks from all sides of the spectrum still really do like to sit down, talk about ideas, and learn from their classmates. And that's something I think is important. 

A student perspective on clinics, student organizations, and the intellectual community at Yale Law School.