Across the country, out in the West Coast, the scene somehow is familiar and comforting. Muggy was reading news on the bed, laughing out loud occasionally and sharing random amusing thoughts of the day. Did you know they are building a highway connecting Beijing and Tibet? Driving cross-country is now a thing for Chinese people. Did you know back in the 80s, 43% of female Wall Street analysts came from Ivy league schools? And that now, while that number is down to about 20%, 80% of so-called female "star" Wall Street analysts are still from the Ivies?

From my work station--a big white table in front of a massive window with view of the Bay and the Golden Gate bridge many miles afar, I nodded, surrounded by papers and an open red notebook, scribbled with pens in multicolor. This notebook has been my life for the last semester, and will continue to be for my last 3 months in law school. It contains the case note on my client, Mr. H, a half black half Vietnamese man who suffers from mental disability and whose deportation charges I have been fighting against as part of NYU's Immigration Rights Clinic. In early December, after filing a habeas petition--"the Great Writ"-- in federal district court, we negotiated with an US District Attorney and secured Mr. H's release just in time for the holiday seasons. After almost half a year in jail for doubly jeopardy, Mr. H was finally able to go home, resume working, resume the quiet life that was abruptly interrupted when federal immigration officers raided his home at 6am one morning and took him into custody. Our work is not yet done, as the clinic will continue fighting his deportation charges next semester. But it was quite a feeling for my clinic partner and I as we walked out of the Varick Street Immigration Court--a special adjudication forum for detained cases, heads held high, arms weighted with volumes of briefs, stomachs fluttered with the realization that we had successfully wielded that all-mighty sword that is the law and all of its halo, once stuck in stone, for the benefit of our client and the justice that we believe he deserves. So that, that is how young King Arthur and Le Loi must have felt.

Mr. H was born in Lai Thieu, a town I have never been too, nor could locate on the map. He never knew his dad--an African American soldier who had a brief affair with his mom and disappeared some time in 1968, at the height of the war. Mr. H grew up visibly half black with dark skin, kinky hair, and taller, broader frame than most Vietnamese children his age. He was constantly teased and bullied, and asked to leave school because he reacted to fights. He grew up a solemn boy, earning money by transporting canvas bags of rice and grains to old ladies selling commodities at the village's market. As a result, Mr. H never learned to read or write. Until the clinic got a doctor to diagnose him with mental retardation, his family had no idea that he suffered from a mental disability.

One of the challenges of being a lawyer is that it is difficult to know where to stop. We have filed approximately 1,000 pages of briefs and evidence to get Mr. H out of jail, but our jobs cannot stop at the end step of the courthouse. Mundane questions of life remain: how can he get cheaper housing? Can we help him apply for citizenship? Can we help him file taxes? Get disability benefits? Insurance? Stay out of trouble?

Part of the skill sets that law school teaches you, a smart friend on Law Review once said, is the ability to break down the problem and tackle it once at a time. Life has too many big problems that can overwhelm you at a moment's notice. So that is what we have done. We have broken down the problem and focus on getting Mr. H out of jail first, because liberty is of the highest interest and its deprivation is the gravest violation of due process. SG, my unassuming yet amazing legal advisor from the Legal Aid Society, always tells us we have to believe in our arguments. If you can't convince yourself that you represent truth and justice, you cannot convince anyone else. Talk out loud, wave your hands, bang on the table! -- she will say between the lines -- be outrageous. This is an outrageous case and a great confluence of issues.

On brisk November morning, I rushed out of immigration court, still shaking, and jumped in a taxi to race down to the federal court house to file the habeas. You did amazing in court, you killed it! SG pumped her fist in the air. Sitting in the taxi, I frantically flipped through the hundred-page petitions to make sure the exhibits were in order, my minds in automode. Did I do that well? I only recalled stumbling and forcing out words in inarticulate manner. In this business, it is hard to be non-native speakers when everyone else did debate from high school. But ah, the thrill of the adversarial system, I could see why it is addictive. It is the rush of having someone else watch your every move and keep you on your toes. That someone else reviews all your evidence and is prepared to shoot down your best argument. And the satisfaction of winning, of seeing the happiness in your client's face, and believing that justice--whatever small part of it--has been done. Nothing beat that. Nothing beat that moment of 2012 for me.

So here we are, 2013, for all of the mysteries to come. It will be a year of many big decisions, of graduating law school for me and MFE for Muggy, of moving to Maine and to California, of starting out new careers. And here we are, in our usual routines, ready to dive into the new year, head-first.