Summer vacation isn’t about sun, sand and relaxation for everybody.
For three law students with ties to the Beaumont area, this summer has proven to be a chance to put the theory and reading they’ve done in law school to the test under the watchful and experienced eye of longtime judge and attorney Bob Wortham.
“It’s been a wonderful experience, but it’s not me sharing my knowledge, it’s me sharing the opportunity for them to see the involvement with, at times, some very good lawyers, and at other times, some not so very good lawyers,” said Wortham, who has more than 30 years of experience practicing law and presiding over cases. “So they learn two things: They learn how to do things and they learn how not to do things, and sometimes learning how not to do them may be more beneficial than learning how to do them.”
Wortham is in his fifth summer of hosting aspiring lawyers as clerks, and this year’s crop includes Adam Walton, 23, who has family in the Beaumont area; and Janson Bailey, 27, a West Brook product. Both men have been working under Wortham all summer and are wrapping up their clerkships before heading off to enjoy what’s left of their summers. They will be entering their second year of law school this semester. Walton attends Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Va., while Bailey attends Whittier Law School in sunny Southern California.
Kaylee Bryant-Blewett, 25, is a Kelly graduate and was starting her clerkship this week. She had an interesting start thanks to the profanity-laced rant from courthouse shooter Bartholomew Granger on Tuesday in which a motion was made by his attorney, Rife Kimler, to remove himself as counsel since he was a witness to the courthouse shootings. Wortham is presiding over the Granger case in Jefferson County.
Bailey, who is looking at going into real estate law when he’s done with school, said the experience he’s had this summer learning in a real-life scenario has been priceless.
“You sit in a classroom for however many hours a day, we read non-stop about procedure and black-letter law, but to see it in motion and see the inner-workings of the courthouse and to see how the attorneys interact with each other — it’s been a great experience for myself. I don’t think there could’ve been anything else to substitute what we’ve done this summer and the experience that we’ve had,” Bailey said.Walton, who’s also considering real estate law, said working behind the scenes and seeing what you don’t read about in school is beneficial as a young law school student, but it’s applicable to everyday life as well.
“You’re dealing with real-life people in real-life circumstances, so it helps put the law in perspective. If you think about the reason you’re doing things and think about those circumstances, it helps in the application of the law,” said Walton. “You’re not just doing things hypothetically anymore; you’ve got a point, you’ve got a goal, and you’re trying to help people.”
For Bryant-Blewett, who has one more year of law school left at South Texas College of Law in Houston and wants to try her hand at family law, she knows she’s got her work cut out for her the rest of the summer before heading back to class.
“I’m expecting to get a lot of experience, to do some writing, take in some hearings,” she said. “They’ve talked about the rubber meeting the road; that’s what I’m really here for.”
Fred Davis can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 227, or by e-mail at fred [at] theexaminer [dot] com.