The experience I had with the Redden & Findling externship was a wonderful one. The people I met over the course of the week were phenomenal, being professionally informative as well as welcoming. I am completely satisfied with the knowledge I gained and I am grateful to the Redden & Findling firm as well as The Center for Life Beyond Reed for providing me with this opportunity.
The externship at the law offices of Redden & Findling seemed to be slightly different than the other externships offered, since it gave a firsthand look into the professional lives of a high-paced law office in East Portland. Traditionally, it’s quite difficult to find opportunities in the area of law as an undergraduate student because of the large pool of graduate law students around the country who are also competing for internships and employment. This externship is a rare experience and it should absolutely be taken advantage of if it continues to be offered.
The highly specialized nature of practicing law generally excludes most untrained students from participating, but Mike Redden found a great balance between observation and engagement that kept me interested for the duration of the week. Rather than have me do office work or simply sit and watch, he narrated almost all of his tasks to me so that I would have some idea of what was going on. All of this insider knowledge about the workings of law firms, estate planning and the ins-and-outs of the law code, combined with fanciful stories of the old days at Reed College, national bridge tournaments, and travelling across Europe made the week energetic and exciting. Unfortunately for Mike, he broke his femur weeks before and was confined to his home office, but it was better than ever for me – delicious lunches made by his wife and the company of two loving dogs by my side was more than I could ask for! His hospitality, willingness to answer all questions, and general light-heartedness showed me a side of law that I’d never seen before.
More than anything I was able to experience the daily life of an attorney. Granted, Mike is a very specialized type of attorney with a unique practice and a distinctive style, but nonetheless it was fascinating to get a perspective that most don’t have. Mike would periodically hand me his ipad and give me a specialized law question and I would research it for 10-15 minutes and see if I could come up with an answer. Of course, he knew the answer already, but the exercise was meant to highlight the accessibility of the law code with respect to independent research. I learned that law school can only give so much, and great deal of establishing a successful practice involves this kind of individual research following law school, where attorneys build their practices and widen their repertoires by studying the law on their own. Mike gave me some firsthand experience with this type of research, and many of the questions delved into other fascinating discussions of history, property rights, philosophy, etc.
Since I had been visiting Mike’s home office, I spent my last day at the Redden & Findling firm with his associates. Here I was able to see a wider range of areas of practice and get a sense of the dynamics of a law office. Additionally, I had some great conversations with attorneys about their personal and professional lives, law school and the decisions that come with it, and more generally about what’s in store for the future. Overall, I have a great experience and I have come out of the externship with great professional networking connections and useful knowledge that I’ll be able to use in decisions regarding my own career path.