Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Dealing with Opposing Counsel

I don't know what was in the air last month, but I managed to make a few attorney's angry.  All attorney's guard their integrity closely.  As they should.  But some have limited memory of what they say in judges chambers.  I actually had an attorney aggrieved with me because they believed I called them a liar in front of the judge.  I didn't.  Didn't even come close.

Further, another attorney was upset because his/her client told him/her that I was speaking terrible things about him/her.  And without double checking with me, I was brandished as someone that was out there gossiping and talking smack.

Peyton's Place.  This profession is a den of gossip, and a bunch of divas.

My advice:  When you find out that opposing counsel has been offended, don't always ignore it.  Take the time to straighten it out and let the other side know that your intent was not to do as they thought you did.  That 2 minute conversation will garner you a lot of appreciation and respect.  Remember, you are going to have many more cases with that person.  Make it work.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ups and Downs...

I started my own firm and my practice area is mainly family law.  This has been an interesting venture for me, but one that is starting to pay off.  I started this firm back in mid- December, when someone I knew contacting me wanting representation on a modification of custody.

January found my adding two more clients, February even more, and the beginning of this month saw me adding even more clients.  To the point that I am now pretty busy.

I had my first contested hearing against a well known firm this week as well. That was interesting to prepare for and to conduct.

I wake up every morning thinking that I love my job.  I really do.  I have no complaints and instead, when that alarm goes off at 5:30 am, I am jumping out of bed, eager to get to the office.

The great thing about starting your own firm is you control your overhead.  My overhead is really low right now. My family's business has given me some temporary space to use for now and sometimes I even work from home.  I have my eye on the perfect office share situation, but I figure I need a few more steady clients before I can justify that expense.  Though the location is just a block from the courthouse.

So far there has been little drama, lots of growing, and love of my job and what I do.  There have been some other surprises along the way though.  When your client cries, what do you do?  The pro se litigant that calls you and screams at you --- how do you handle that one.  Other attorney's treating you like a moron because they can see by your bar number you are a newbie.  But all those challenges are exciting for now.  They are, but a rite of passage.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

LSAT's: Why they matter.

My LSAT score was average.  My first year of law school I spent saying, "Hey, LSAT'S are not a true indication of how a law student will do."  (Disclaimer:  In my case, I was above school median, and I did do better than the formula said I would -- but this is not the norm).  I spread that around to everyone that would listen.  And quite frequently applicants will write addendums to why their scores should not be indicitive of what type of student they will be either.  They point to their GPA or something else.  But I am here to tell you what the LSAT is indictive of......

1.  Whether you pass the bar on one try.  Yes, you heard that right.  There is a coorelation between your LSAT score and bar passage.  The lower the score the less likely that you will pass on the first try, if at all.  Why?  If you can't do well on the standardized test that is the LSAT, you are going to struggle big time on the bar.

2.  The LSAT is but ONE idicator.  LSAC takes your LSAT score and your GPA and then has a formula that calculates what your first year law GPA will be.... and you know what?  It's eerily correct.  For instance, if you have someone with a 153 score and a 3.79, then LSAC says your first year will have you at about a 3.1.  Yep, right on Johnnio as is evidenced by scores of individuals who demonstate this.  There will always be a few outliers, but by and far, the score is right on.

3.  The mean average of the LSAT is about a 152.  You need to be looking at law schools and find if you fall near the class profile average.  If you aren't close, it's a pipedream that you are getting in.  You want into Harvard?  You better be scoring in between a 170-175.  Otherwise your application is no more than toilet paper to the admission office.  As you go down the tier levels, you will see that the LSAT median falls.  University of Oregon has a 155-160 spread.  You need to hit that mark.

4.  Be competitive in your scores.  If the LSAT median is 153, anything below a 147 is just NOT competitive.  No matter what great argument or tragedy you have for scoring that low is not going to secure you a spot.  Retake the exam.  Period.  Might not be fun, but hey, neither is law school.  (Oh, and don't study the same way you did before --- find something that works this time).

5.  Bad LSAT score means less or no merit scholarships the first year.  Got that?  You want merit scholarships, you better be on the upper end of that score.

6.  You score below a 150 (the median), take that sucker again.  Score below a 145, don't even bother applying to a law school -- unless it's an unaccredited one and you don't want to sit for the bar in any state but California.

Look, there are programs out there to help you learn.  Study for this test as if your life depends on it.  If you do bad the first time, study different the second time.  If it didn't work the first time, it most certainly will not the next time.  So your approach has to be very, very different.  This test is not about what you know... it's about what you can problem solve in limited amounts of time.  Repetition is the key to doing well.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Applying for law school

In my temporary position at the law school, I read a ton of personal statements.  After the first month, they all started sounding the same.  I have thought a lot about what I would recommend to people writing a statement and here are my thoughts:

1.  First, remember this is probably your most important academic paper yet.  Proof read, then have others proof read, then proof read again.
2.  Don't write this like it's some creative writing english essay.  Honestly, I don't want to read about your toes drifting through the lapping of the waves off your boat dock.  And neither does the admission committee.
3.  Everyone applying for law school wants to be there.  You really aren't unique.  Nor is your drive to go to law school.
4.  Don't include a photo.
5.  Don't minimize your mistakes.  Own them in full.
6.  Don't tell us why you would be a good candidate for another law school.

So, having bumped the negatives out real fast, let me tell you what I would do to make myself standout:

1.  Give the committee a snapshot of you and your passion.  This is your one shot to show why you stand out as a PERSON, not as a student.  Your GPA will will tell your success as a student.  Your recommendations will also give evidence to this...... but your personal statement allows the committee to see who you are and how you will meld with the class profile that is growing.  Make yourself standout.
2.  We need to know you are a fighter.  Law school requires immense amounts of focus, tenacity and perserverance --- show us you have that.
3.  Write actively, persuasively, and positively.
4.  Show us that you have researched our school and incorporate specifically what it is about our programs and community that makes you want to call our school home.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My new hero Bob Goff

My friend sent me a link to www.bobgoff.com as she was at a conference where he was speaking.  This man's determination to become an attorney, reminded me of myself.  But his heart to do more with his law degree (and admittedly how he considers Disneyland to be his office......lol) echoes the call in my own heart.

He started a nonprofit called Restore International.  In the past year, this nonprofit has built two homes for girls who were sex trafficked, one in Uganda and one in India. 

He also has written a book called Love Does.  Looking forward to reading this book and reporting back.

I love reading about lawyers that feel a greater calling in their lives and who take the responsibility and mantle of a law degree seriously.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Interview

I have one of those coveted interviews for a recent law grad, bar passer.  The job is interesting, but not the practice of law, even though bar admittance is required.  The job is for an association that as part of it's services provides consulting on legal issues for it's members.  Not only is there consulting and investigating for the members, but also teaching of seminars to educate members and writing articles for publication.  The area is employment law which is a fascinating area and with the economy the way it is, a growing area.  Pretty excited to have the interview.

Oregon: So you are sworn in, what happens next?

No one tells you about the process that happens AFTER swearing in.  I naively thought, great, I am sworn in and it's good to go.  Law school doesn't prepare you for the fact that this is NOT TRUE.  Here is a run down of the bar happenings in Oregon:

1. Swearing in ceremony where you take the oath, and sign it, to be filed with the Surpreme Court.
2.  A few days AFTER the event, the Oregon Bar will contact you with your bar number.
3.  You must wait at least 24 hours before registering your personal profile with the bar.
4.  Register your profile with the bar.
5.  Sign up for the New Lawyer Mentoring program (in Oregon this must be done w/n 28 days of swearing in).
6.  Contact the PLF if you plan on opening your practice.  The PLF is the exclusive insurer for malpractice insurance in Oregon.
7.  Look for your 2012 prorated bar membership dues.  They are due sometime the beginning of December (I had no idea that you had to pay this fee!).

That's just to get you legit with the BAR........ not the mirad of things you must do to get your business registered...... lots, and lots, and lots of paperwork.