Disclaimer

This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Monday, November 30, 2009

MILP Roundup #126

Singing, Dancing MILP's. Butterflyfish has it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Q&A with Moi

I thought instead of responding to this question in a comment, I would craft a slightly more thought-out response and write a new post.

Nando asks:

Is this how you envisioned the practice of law before going to law school? Also, wouldn't it be nice if law schools were focused more on the practice aspect of things. (Although I am not sure if [Mediocre University] has solid clinical programs or not, I am sure it could be much better.)

Answer to the first question is: yes and no. Having worked in the legal profession for six years before going to law school, I had a pretty good grasp on what law practice was actually like, including the trials and tribulations of new associates, at least in my city and in the areas of law I worked in. So, I can't claim to have been under some sort of false illusion when I signed on. I knew the job market was tough; I knew of attorneys taking jobs as secretaries.

Even still, I was under the impression that I did not want to litigate going in to law school. I had done some corporate transactional work, liked it, and thought it was for me. I was wrong. The simple stuff I'm cool with, the crazy complicated stuff makes my brain ooze out of my ears. I don't want to think that hard every day. That's not how I roll. Also, I went through a lot of trouble to concentrate on international law, only to find I will probably never practice any sort of international law. I still have an interest in it, but more within the scope of domestic legal practice. Like, products liability cases against multinational corporations, or a child custody dispute with a foreign national who has taken the child out of the country. That stuff I think is more up my alley. And I never thought I'd want to be a trial lawyer, but I love being in the courtroom. I caught the trial bug doing mock trial, and it's a total rush. That's where I want to be.

Now, did I imagine I would have to move two hours from home, and spend half the week away from my husband and two nights a week away from my child in order to be employed? Particularly in a small town? No. The vast majority of 2009 law graduates in our state are unemployed, I'm damn lucky to have a job. I think it's somewhere around 75%. It's ridiculous. Granted, there are jobs in rural areas, but not everyone's willing to make the move. My friend ranked in the top 15 didn't get any call backs from big firms, and she ended up not getting an offer from the small boutique firm she clerked for as a 3L. However, she was offered a job in boofoo (3 hours away down country highway, watch out for the coal trucks) for $80K per year working for Racist Guy who apparently felt comfortable enough to drop the N-bomb in her job interview. Needless to say, she turned down the offer. She eventually took a job in her hometown an hour away, which she swore she'd never do. But it was either that or be unemployed.

I probably could have held out for a job with the public defender's office, or waited tables at night while volunteering for legal aid until something came up instead of moving away, but the job offer I got was a great opportunity, and one I couldn't pass up just because I wanted to stay living where I was: it was the opportunity to actually practice law. I really love my job and I'm learning a lot. It (almost) makes the pain of law school slip away.

Second question: As for what my law school taught me, well, let's just say I didn't get my money's worth, and I really doubt I paid anywhere near as much as most of the rest of you 2009 grads did. Our in-state tuition is really cheap in comparison to other schools, but what I paid for was really just a piece of paper that's now framed hanging in my office. I had a few really good professors, but also some really crappy ones. (That adjunct who taught our nonprofits class ruined any chance for me to look back on law school favorably.) I learned most of the material from supplements, not from sitting in the classroom listening to my idiot classmates prattle on. I had a great experience with the prosecutorial internship, and learned so much. I learned a lot from taking Litigation Skills. And my favorite professor is this guy I had for Evidence, Scientific Evidence and Insurance. He doesn't dick around with the stupid Socratic Method, he just tells you what you need to know. He also focused on our state law too, and the realities of legal practice. He practiced law for quite awhile before realizing he was working too hard, and became a law professor because (as he says) he gets paid a very good salary for not doing much of anything. He also utilizes puppets as a teaching tool. My highest grades were all in his classes. Had every class been taught by him, I would have enjoyed law school immensely and probably graduated with an impressive gpa rather than with mediocrity.

We have a legal clinic, but only about 10 students out of 140 or so a year get to participate. There are the judicial externships, and the prosecutorial externship, and such, where a handful of students get to participate each semester. Even still, it wasn't a big deal to not do those things if you worked for a law firm during the summer and got experience that way. But now that a lot of law students can't even get a summer clerkship, the amount of actual legal practice they get during law school is pretty much nothing.

I think it's a huge disservice to send law grads out into the world who know absolutely nothing about the actual practice of law outside of reading legal opinions that don't even apply in our jurisdiction. That's nice that we spent all that time learning the Rule Against Perpetutities. Imagine our surprise during bar review when we found out our state doesn't have it. But you have a client coming to you who wants to put a joint custody agreement in place with the mother of his child, they've never married, how do you go about that? Oh, that wasn't in your family law book? Yeah, that's a problem.

There's no "how-to guide" for practicing law. There's a "Practice" set for our state that has the state law in the main subject areas, along with some forms and such, but it's all rather basic, and particularly with family law, shit, I never seem to get anything basic. The client I had today I thought was basic, ended up being anything but. Did my law school prepare me for that? Hell no. But my nine years of experience in the legal profession, coupled with three years in sales and customer service prior to that is what keeps me afloat. Law school (well, more specifically the WestLaw luncheons) taught me how to research and my clerkships gave me practice. Bar Review taught me the main substantive state law. My graduate degree helps me in working with people and conflict resolution.

If I had to make a recommendation to make law school better for students, and produce better-prepared lawyers, I would say give 3L's limited license to practice, and set them all up working in a legal clinic, like a law residency program. Our state desperately needs pro bono legal services, but doesn't have the funds to get more attorneys for legal aid agencies and the public defenders office. Then that obscene tuition we pay could go to funding legal aid services instead of being wasted at the law school, which really hasn't done much for us in terms of preparing us for legal careers, or helping us pass the bar, or helping us find jobs.

My two cents. Enjoy.

MILP Roundup #125

The Weekly MILP (Moms In the Legal Profession) Roundup** is hosted on a rotating basis here, PT-Lawmom and A Little Fish in Law School blogs and is usually posted no later than Monday morning. Next week, go to Butterflyfish for the awesomeness of the MILP roundup.

So, what's up this week?

First, let’s welcome a fellow Mom in the Legal Profession, new to the round-up. In her first post rounded-up here, she writes on the struggles of balancing work in Big Law and motherhood.

PT-Lawmom has more family drama.

LC lays down some lawyering on the school principal. Here, here and here.

Butterflyfish has an unnatural love of Blackacre.

Cee is getting her ride-on.

Jenny looks like she’s in law school.

Dakota is busy networking… and her blog is a short click away from the cuteness of the kids’ Christmas photos.

LL is rocking the baby bump.

Newlawmom is aiming for straight A’s.

Peach is a little lady (and a preschooler!)

-R- buys matching jammies.

Gillian is up at 3am.

Googiebaba couldn’t resist the Dairy Queen.

Last, but certainly not least, LEO (finally!) got her bar results, and has passed. Congrats! Yay!!!



If you would like to have your blog added to the MILP blogroll for weekly review or would like us to consider a specific post, drop the hostess(es) an email or leave a comment at their respective sites.

**Hat tip to the “original” Roundup Evan Schaeffer’s Legal Underground and Thanks, But No Thanks

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Life after Trial Prep

Trial Prep has been the bulk of my work since I started. We had like five trials scheduled through January, but now they're all gone. Either settled or rescheduled, or tried. So now what? Boss Dude has given me a few new cases to work on, and I'm starting to take appointments with new clients. Divorces, personal injury matters, and such. I'm signed up on the GAL and WOA lists, and working on getting onto the "Shit the Public Defender's Office Can't Take" list. Weee, (alleged) criminals! I did a summary judgment hearing last week (I won) and I'm taking my first deposition in two weeks. I'm starting to feel like a real lawyer, as opposed to a pseudo lawyer. That's pretty cool. Unfortunately, I know just enough to be dangerous, so it's also a little scary.

In other news, The Husband has finished his clinical rotation this semester and now he just has studying to do. He (and the dog) came out to Small Town this week to hang with Cora and I, which was nice. Even nicer is that I didn't have to take Cora back to The City, and wake up at 6am to drive two hours back to work. That was really nice. I don't mind all the driving, but the waking up at 6am... not a big fan. I'm sure my car appreciates the break too. When I go back to The City on Friday, I'll have 100,000 miles on that poor old tin can.

Mother-in-Law is coming to Small Town on Sunday, so we'll have dinner and take her to some local Christmas events. Then she'll head out to where Father-in-Law lives for a few days, and they'll both come back to our house in The City for Thanksgiving. (My MIL took a job before Cora was born with a military base in another state, a position that will eventually transfer back to the military base where FIL works, supposedly in the Spring. It seems to be a trend lately with married couples living apart because of work.)

Anyway, Cora is pretty much the same: chatterbox, bossy-boots, and increasingly independent. When she wants to play by herself, she will kick me out of her bedroom, close the door in my face, and scold me if I try to come back in. I had no idea toddlers required privacy. On the other hand, she has no problem invading my privacy, such as waking up in the middle of the night, opening my bedroom door, standing beside the bed and staring at me until I wake up. I suppose that's better than smacking me and shouting "Mommy!" in an accusatory manner, as she has previously. But not by much.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Trial Fail

I was in court this week for my first trial ever. I generally kill trials, just my very existence makes them not happen. Nine years in the legal profession, dozens and dozens of cases prepped for trial, witnesses subpoenaed, exhibits prepared, all ready to go, and all have been canceled. Whether it settled (or pleaded out) last-minute, or some catastrophic event causes the cancellation the day-of, I'm generally just all dressed up with nowhere to go. But we actually made it to trial on Monday for a wrongful termination case. Got through the whole thing. The jury deliberated for nearly four hours. It was a unanimous verdict... just not in our favor.

It totally sucks. Boss Dude was awesome. He is the zen master, and me merely his grasshopper. I can only hope that someday I will be a fraction of the awesome as a trial attorney. But, alas, it was not to be. Apparently the jury did not feel that our client missed work for reasons related to a medical disability, so it was okay for them to fire her for taking off for medical appointments. I just feel really bad for her. It's one thing to be fired from your job for bad reasons, lose your health benefits when you need ongoing medical treatment, and then you can't find a new job because the economy sucks. It's another thing to go to trial over it and have to face a parade of your coworkers and managers as they nitpick every single thing you ever did wrong during the time you worked there, and as they continuously say nasty things about you, because they want to say they didn't fire you for missing work, they fired you because you suck.

And that would be why I didn't make a stink when Asshole Insurance Defense Firm pushed me out during my maternity leave. Right now I have at least a good reference from them, because it was all just a silly mix-up, right? They thought I wasn't coming back after the baby was born, so they replaced me. Oops! Nothing personal! And then I found another job and all is good. Even though there were emails back and forth about what date I was returning from maternity leave. Even though most summer jobs had already been filled because they didn't bother to tell me I didn't have a job until the end of February. Even though not long after I was told I didn't have a job because they thought I wasn't coming back and so they hired someone else, they had the nerve to put out a resume request to the law school for a new clerk.

How do I tell someone that in a job interview and not make it seem like I'm bad-mouthing my former employer? I don't. My official story is I had worked years in insurance defense and wanted to give plaintiff's work/something else a try, rather than acknowledging the humiliation of being pushed out during my maternity leave by a firm I constantly defended whenever my coworkers complained about it. I was absolutely the loyal "company girl." And then they absolutely fucked me. However, if I pursued a claim that I was dismissed because I procreated, suddenly I'd become the worst law clerk in the history of the world. And all those people I thought were my friends, and always praised my work, and chipped in to buy me a wedding gift and later a baby shower gift, and my bosses who wrote me letters of recommendation to law school and graduate school and who I still use as references because they will give me glowing recommendations, would suddenly be testifying under oath about how I totally suck. And I would probably believe it; even though I generally have rather good self-esteem, I still have a lot of self-doubt when it comes to the quality of my work. (Thank you, Law School.) I would probably be on anti-depressants for the rest of my life after that experience. But at the same time, by not pursuing it, I sent the message that it was okay that they fired a pregnant woman, when they didn't even have the balls to actually fire me.

Anyway, employment law is tough. It's just very personal. That seems silly that work is so personal, but it really is, at least to me. I like it, don't get me wrong, but it was emotionally exhausting to try this case, and I don't anticipate that will change.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

MILP Roundup #124

PT-Lawmom has the awesome this week. You'll find it back here next week.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wing-Nuttery Revisited

In nauseating dread of seeing that ridiculous woman's smug face on a row of books and knowing precious trees died for such a tragic cause instead of being used for a much nobler purpose such as toilet paper honor of Sarah Palin's whine-fest publishing debut, I thought I would link to my previous posts concerning her brief foray into national politics, particularly her interviews with Katie Couric for which she apparently spews hate is quite critical.

Comments on the substance of her interviews here. Comments on her smug entitlement here. Comments on her blaming her ineptitude on others here. Comments praising her view on privacy and Constitutional Law here. And finally my comments on why Sarah Palin's selection as the Republican VP candidate, apart from partisan politics, makes me cry on the inside (found here).

Oh, John McCain. I used to like you and respect you. Then you plucked that Whack-a-Doodle out of obscurity from Alaska and made her the pin-up girl for Right Wing Fantasy Land. The only worse female choices I can possibly think of for such an important position would have been Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) or that beauty queen whose lawsuit for religious discrimination got scuttled by her solo sex tape (Hypocrisy Fail). Now the media continues to give Palin attention for her buffoonery, such as when she accused our president of wanting to kill her baby and her grandma. She will never go away. She will continue to linger, like an incurable infection, a constant, painful reminder of how we could have had a bad-ass chick as the Republican VP candidate, someone thoughtful and intelligent, showing up the dudes, but got THIS instead.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Awesomesauce

I found this website from the ABA newsletter, written by a solo practitioner who mocks his former firm's most villainous partners. It's definitely worth a read from the beginning, it's hilarious and outrageous. That dude has giant cahones because, while I could definitely write novels about the sociopaths I've worked for in the past, I would be terrified of having to face them in court over it. So kudos to Mr. Heyburn for testing the boundaries of our First Amendment rights, and making a stand against the lawyers who give our profession a bad name and made our lives a living hell. (I am, however, rather partial to the porn star mustaches. If I were a dude, I would totally rock one.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ich bin ein Berliner

Actually, I'm not. But, technically, my husband is. He was born in West Berlin, where he lived until he was about 8 years old. (A fact that gets us stopped and interrogated during every border crossing, because border control cannot figure out how he was born in Germany, is an American citizen, speaks only a little German, and has a mid-western accent.)

Father-in-Law got reassigned stateside and they left Germany before the end of the Cold War. Husband had not been back to Germany since the wall came down and had never seen a unified Berlin. So we went to Berlin for our honeymoon in 2006 (and also went to Vienna, Venice and Munich). A few pictures from '06:


Brandenburger Tor


Bored fake border guard, with fake passport stamps, with a backdrop of capitalism


A surviving chunk of Wall


Checkpoint Charlie


Remnants of another world

What is amazing is that, while the fall of the iron curtain is such a momentous event in the lives of those of my generation and particularly of those of older generations, there are now adults who never even knew a divided Germany. They never had a map that said "East" and "West" Germany, or "USSR." They can read about it in history books, hear stories from their parents, and watch old video clips, but they will never truly understand what all the fuss is about. That's what's awesome.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

MILP Roundup #123

Butterflyfish has it. You wants it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

MILP Roundup #122

Anyway. The Weekly MILP (Moms In the Legal Profession) Roundup** is hosted on a rotating basis here, PT-Lawmom and A Little Fish in Law School blogs and is usually posted no later than Monday morning. Next week, go to Butterflyfish for the awesomeness of the MILP roundup.

Happy Halloween! And Happy All Saints' Day. And Happy Samhain. And Feliz Dia de Los Muertos. Etc., etc. Here's what's up:

-R- has an arch-nemesis, who is obviously working on his application to the Evil League of Evil's legal department.

Meanwhile, it's LC versus Secretary. (Secretary is obviously a candidate for the Henchmen Union).

Where's the Halloween destruction? Not in Boston with Googiebaba.

Newlawmom went as a frazzled law student for Halloween. (Embarrassingly, a bunch of other people were wearing the same costume.)

Landon isn't satisfied with being a pumpkin for only one day!

Jenny is stuck on the hamster wheel.

The Peach is riding a lion, while Shelley is mastering the art of Schwan cooking.

Magic Cookie has a lot of love. Butterflyfish is also getting Halloween love.

Gillian is par-tay-ing on the block. (With a giant spider.)

LEO and Timmy are both on the mend (and Timmy is super cute in his hat!)

Dakota is also feeling better and Trunk or Treating.

Cee falls for Halloween tricks.

PT-Lawmom falls for Halloween treats! (Congrats!)

There ya go! Tune in next week for more MILP goodness! Cheers!


If you would like to have your blog added to the MILP blogroll for weekly review or would like us to consider a specific post, drop the hostess(es) an email or leave a comment at their respective sites.

**Hat tip to the “original” Roundup Evan Schaeffer’s Legal Underground and Thanks, But No Thanks

Halloween

The first costume attempt was Fail.


AHHHHHH!!!! The Peep is EATING ME!!!!

But we had great success with the second costume, minus the head piece...


Abby Cadabby enjoying the spoils of that whole "Trick or Treating"

Halloween was quite fun. I really enjoyed taking Cora Trick or Treating. She had such a good time, she loved going up to the doors. She'd say "TREAT!" and "TANK YOU!" and "BYE!!!" She did a very good job. The Marshmallow Peep would have been pretty awesome, but Cora really enjoyed being Abby Cadabby. She's still been carrying around the wand today.

After Trick or Treating, we sent her off with Grandma to her friend J's house where my mom was watching the kiddies while we par-tayed. No, I am not too old to party like a rock star. I'm just too old to not feel like crap the next day.

Cora helped me decorate earlier in the week. We used finger paints to make blood spatter paintings to hang around the house. Looked very cool in the black light.


Smoking skull, smoking cauldron of witch's brew, and blood spatter

Halloween is generally my excuse to dress how I totally would every day if I weren't supposed to be some sort of respectable professional woman in her thirties and a suburban wife, mom and Catholic: slutty and goth. Seriously. It's sooo me.


Seriously. I'm dark and tortured.

Okay, maybe not. But I enjoy it on these occasions.


** The MILP Roundup will be posted tonight after Bunny Bedtime, as we're hitting the road back to Small Town. Don't worry, I won't leave you hanging for long.**