Reflections on My First Hearing

Reflections on My First Hearing
Marisa Lowe, ’23, and her clinic partner Viviana Andazola Marquez, ’22, on the day of their client’s hearing.

I was extremely nervous about representing our client at her first hearing, but feeling over prepared for the hearing made me feel less nervous the day of. Mooting and knowing our outline from front-to-back and back-to-front made me more comfortable during the hearing.

There was a small moment in the hearing that I really loved. When the judge asked how our client would be responding to the immigration allegations and charges the government lodged against her, my mind completely blanked. Although I had practiced this portion of the hearing over and over, my mind was completely unable to conjure up the words I had practiced repeatedly. Instead of stuttering or stumbling over my words, I took quite a long pause and was able to conjure up the right words.

While to an excellent orator or practiced litigator this long pause might have been viewed as an error, I was excited to have committed such a mistake. Being willing and comfortable enough to pause and collect myself was so much better than stumbling over my words.

This pause also relates to a larger lesson I have learned over this quarter—leaning into silence. Upon reflection, I think that many of the environments I have studied, worked, and socialized in previously have emphasized speaking quickly, loudly, and confidently. This quarter, I have spent time intentionally un-learning this emphasis. In relation to my clients and teammates, I have learned how silence can create necessary space for others in partnership and dialogue. Today, I also learned that I much prefer using silence, as opposed to stumbling over my words, as a crutch when my mind runs completely blank.