Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Negligence claim effects on hospitals

I have had the displeasure of dealing with hospital bureacracy in the last several days. My sister is pregnant and in pre-term labor. First, we learned they no longer allow camcorders in the labor and delivery room. I guess too many sue happy people had fat, juicy evidence for lawsuits via the video recording. Second, dealing with procedure due to legal liability is out of hand.

We went to the hospital the first time when my sister was at 34 weeks, 6 days. We were told if she was at 35 weeks, they would just let her deliver. Instead the pumped her full of drugs (I think our count was seven) in order to stop her labor. After 18 hours in the hospital, we were sent home.

At 35 weeks, 1 day, we are back at 3 am. Only to be told that while they will not stop labor, even though she is contracting every 3-5 minutes and delivers fast, no can do. Go home. She had a doctor's appointment later that afternoon. Her doctor said, you are dialated to 3, and 75% effaced, time for baby----go to hospital right now and deliver that baby.

We trip down to the hospital at 5:00 pm. Now she is dilated to 4, and 85% effaced. They give her drugs, then sent her pain. Why? They won't help her along. She has not slept in 72 hours, she is emotionally wrecked....but the damn doctor and hospital claims that they are only thinking of the baby. I think they are thinking of lawsuits. Hospitals all over the nation deliver early at 35 weeks. Risks to baby are minimal. But risks increase greatly when mom is distressed.

I think it is a racket. What about mom's ability to direct her own care? What about that? What about the fact that she is so bruised and battered from continued injections that there are no more places for the hospital to prick her for her IV? What about her comfort, her health, her ability to savely and effectively deliver her child when the time comes? There are many things that would be safe and without risk to the mom or baby to help her. Instead, "Sorry honey, but this could go on for weeks."

Thank you John Edwards, and greedy corporate tort lawyers.....................................

Monday, December 22, 2008

Professor Rankings

I thought I would stick my neck out and "grade" the professors that I have had at my time at Willamette. I am not going to do a #1 and so on....What I will say is "Top" meaning I would take any class I could from them. "Very Good" Meaning, I liked them but there were a few issues. "Average" meaning the professor was okay, but nothing to write home about, or "Yikes" meaning do anything you can to avoid this professor.

First Semester:
Torts: Richardson, Average. Richardson is a good enough lecturer but a bit on the condescending side. The first thing he will tell you is that you will teach yourself torts, and he is right. Much of his lecturing is abstract and finding the elements of the tort are very difficult. Buy the crunchtime and safe yourself from time. What I will say is he is one of the nicest men outside of the class that you will meet. Very approachable during his office hours and he is willing to talk through any thing you do not understand.

Civil Procedure: Wise, Average lecturer, Very Good personality. I love Professor Wise. He has been voted by the student body as the professor most likely to go off on a tangent for 4 years running. He has a very clever since of humor. Also, his life experience as a federal prosecutor, makes for a very interesting conversation. I took my daughter to his class and she drew him a picture that now hangs proudly in his office. As for a lecturer, those tangents make class very, very difficult--as if civ pro is not hard enough. However, I would take a class with Professor Wise again hands down.

Legal Research & Writing: Jacobson, Very good. Professor Jacobson will become your law school mom. When life is too much, she is waiting with a bowl full of chocolates and a hug. As for the teaching, she is not always clear in what she wants. But she will teach you how to write, and write well.

Contracts I: KCP, Top. He is one of the best professors I have had the fortune to have a class with. He teaches with a cumulative approach so when it comes to studying for the final, you sit down and realize that really it is just tweaking the details because you already know what you need to. His exams are fair and his grading procedures are clear before you take the test. He also gives you a copy of the last semester's exam and a copy of the high paper so you know what he is looking for. He is also a very nice guy and very approachable outside of class.

Criminal: Appleman, Top: I would take a class with her anytime, anywhere. Now, most students either love her or hate her. I find her dry wit and sarcasm in class amusing and entertaining. Her teaching style is also cumulative in that by the time you are done, you know much more than you thought you did. Also, she is very, very approachable outside of class.

1st year, 2nd Semester:

Property: Diller, Top: Professor Diller is also has a cumulative teaching style. This was one of my highest grades for my second semester. Diller is engaging and challenges you constantly trying to tie all areas of the law together. His final is fair, but tough. One great thing about Diller is that he will allow you to throw the kitchen sink at the exam, so if you have a relevant theory outside of property, he will give you points for it. However, he is a bit hard to talk to outside of class, but is willing to try and clarify his points. I would take any class that Diller taught that was available.

International Law: Wise, Very Good. Passionate about this subject and all I said above still is true.

Contracts II: Runkel, Yikes. Runkel is very entertaining and very engaging outside of class. However, in class I always felt like the cornered mouse that the tom cat was just batting back and forth between his big paws before the mouse's final demise. I learned absolutely nothing in this class. His lecturing is terrible and abstract. I still don't understand some very important concepts of contract law.

Con Law I: Williams, Yikes. I would never, as long as I live, take another class with Williams. I did get one of my best grades from him, however, his final was very unfair. The whole question was on a dissent of a case that we spent exactly 7 minutes on in class. While Williams is approachable outside of class and very nice, inside of the classroom he is condescending and often belittling. He is very open about his political belief's and if you don't believe as he does, he takes a very patronizing approach. Don't get me wrong, he is a very intelligent man who seems to enjoy debate, but I always got the feeling that he was just waiting for you to mess up so he could stick it to you.

2nd year, 1st semester

Evidence: Standen, Top. Standen is tough, very tough. But his confrontational teaching style with the cumulative aspect keeps you on your toes the whole semester. He has one of the best sense of humor I have ever seen in a law professor. I felt stimulated and afraid to drift off during his class. I was also mentally and physically exhausted after the exam. I would definitely take another class from him if I have the opportunity.

Con Law II: Carrasco, Average. Carrasco is a confusing guy. He has a background in philosophy and so often times you cannot understand what his question to the class means. This leaves alot of confusion. However, his background in litigating establishment clause, free-speech, and freedom of religion cases in the federal courts makes his teaching interesting. He brings his live cases and experiences to the class and it opens the door to a new understanding. I am not sure I would take another class from him because he just talks on a whole other level from you, but I would be open to it.

Admin Law: Dobbins, Very Good. Dobbins clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stevens and has alot of experience in the area of Admin Law. Dobbins is one of the smartest and nicest men I have met while at Willamette. He is passionate about his topic and truly wants to see his students succeed. He does a great job and making a tough topic easy.

Professional Responsibility: Tamayo, Average. Professor Tamayo is approachable and a great lecturer. We met for only 2 hours a week so it is hard to say what she would be like in another subject. Out of all the professor's I have had, she still has a question mark over her head. Her exam seemed to be taken out of the examples and explanations with a few little things changed.

Remedies: Standen, Morris-Collins.
Standen: Top--all I said above applies here as well. Prof Standen was involved in an accident half way through the semester and Morris Collins took over.
Morris-Collins: Very passionate about the topic of remedies. I can't really grade her because I did not have her from start to finish. For the few weeks I had her, I was left with a favorable opinion and would be open to taking another class from her in the future.

Coming in May: 2nd year, 2nd Semester grading of Saucy, Graham, Landau, Appleman, and KCP. As you can tell, I am taking additional classes from Appleman and KCP--we shall see if they live up to my kudos above.


The winter break is a time to de-stress. 30 days to breathe before the new round of classes begin. Funny thing, de-stressing. Since the end of finals a week ago, all that I want to do is sleep. My body craves rest and I swear I could sleep the days away, and a few of them I did. We were hit with a winter storm and I could not get out of the house for two days that I should have been at work. So I slept the days away! I feel more alert, but like I could still sleep. I was reading about sleep debt and how your body can loose so much that it shuts down. Apparently that is where I am at.

I don't think the law student truly understands the amount of stress that we are under until after finals. Things become a little clearer and it becomes easier to breathe. The constant muscle tension and knots ease. You find yourself laughing more and easier. The pace slows down and you realize it won't be the end of the world if you take your time. And by the end of the break, you begin to wonder what to do with your time. Right now, having time to just lounge on the couch, making a butt groove, is a novelty. However, by January 4th, I will be bored.

For now, I breathe a little easier.....

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm FREE! [Well for a couple of weeks, that is]

Finals are over and I survived again. Not sure how I did because this was truly grueling for me. My back going out was the worst possible thing to happen as when I was in pain, I could not study and when I was on pain medication, I could not study. Either way, I was jacked. I have resolved myself that my GPA is high enough that one bad semester, while not optimal, will also not place me in the position of losing my scholarship or being kicked out.

I am really jazzed about next semester's schedule. I made a resolve that I would always take classes that interested in me, but I also said I would take one in an area of law that I would not be likely to practice. This next semester will be Family Law, Oregon Family Law, Legislation, Criminal Procedure I, and Employment Law and Discrimination.

For those that know me, I want to prosecute and then maybe eventually practice family law. I also have a strong background in Legislation and have worked to pass bills in Oregon. I once thought I would run for office, but realize I have no ambition in that are any longer. In addition, Crim Pro is taught by a favorite professor of mine--who rocks! Oregon Family Law is taught by a local top family attorney.

Employment Law and Discrimination is the class I am taking to stretch myself. I have found that I really like the study of discrimination issues. I have no desire to practice employment law, but someday, if I had the opportunity, I might think about discrimination as an area that interests me. Plus, I really liked the Professor who teaches the class.

For now, I am going to try and not think about school and enjoy my time off. It hit me this weekend that I am now 1/2 way through this crazy journey we call law school. I am amazed and astounded that the time has flown by so fast. I started this journey 6 1/2 years ago and yet it seems like yesterday. As each semester creeps by, I realize just how incredibly close I am to practicing law--and fulfilling a dream. WOW!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Stress: When the body gives out

Stress manifests itself in so many different ways. Often it creeps up on us and then BAM, we feel the effects. For the past several semester of undergrad and then the last two of law school, I would get an upper respiratory infection. This was how my body would deal with it. This semester, no upper respiratory infection---but something else happened, something unexpected.

I had a final on Monday. Finished it okay and started studying for the final on Wednesday. I was having a hard time focusing and I was feeling really tired, but I was exhausted from this semester anyway, so I thought nothing of it. I kept telling myself, "Just 10 more days, just 10 more days." Wednesday I woke up and my body was screaming, it hurt from head to toe. Everything was tight and I was physically nauseated from the tension. My final was a four hour final in the afternoon. So that morning I called the day salon to see if my massage therapist could get me in after the exam. She had a cancellation, so I booked.

That night was bliss. She took away my pain and I felt wonderful. Thursday, I was unusually tired, but I thought that it was because of the relaxed state of my body. No problem, my next final was not until Monday a.m., I was set to go. I woke up Friday morning, got ready to take my daughter to school, sat on the couch to put my shoes on and BAM--radiating pain centering in my back and down my right leg, and up the right side of my back. I was crying, rolling in pain. My daughter was totatally freaked out. She called my mom. I told my mom I was going to pass out from the pain, she freaked out. She came over to my house and took me to the doctor.

The weird thing is that I have never had any real back problems, at least not since my accident 13 years ago. There was no pull, pop, or snap when I bent over. No known injury. And then my doctor says, "You are under alot of stress, sometimes out bodies start shutting down as a warning." Just what I wanted to hear! He prescribed vicodin........................

Pain medication and studying do not mix. Apparently I am also one of those few people that vicodin does not make groggy. I just get a little space cadetish like. So long and short of it is that expect the unexpected during exam times. The stress will manifest itself in ways that you will never be able to predict.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Two Down, 3 To Go

For those curious about the status of my semester, I have now completed two classes: Professional Responsibility and Evidence. YAY. Now I have one more class period for three classes on Tuesday and then I am finished.

Some reflections from this last semester:
1. The saying the first year they scare you to death, the second year they work you to death; absolutely true. The reading load has been a monster to manage. Throw in raising a child and working a part time job----I am one really tired girl right now. The good thing is that I front loaded my classes, so next semester should be somewhat easier.
2. Three mornings a week that have 8:00 am class starts---suck! Don't ever, ever do it! Truthfully, courts in most jurisdictions don't start until 9:30 a.m. and for good reasons: our brains do not function in logical manners until the caffeine has rolled properly through the system. Especially when you are in a challenging class like Evidence, where the Professor is there bright and early and in your face challenging.
3. 2nd year students final know what we are doing. Exams are old news. We know when we have to read, and when we can slack. We can figure out what we need to know often times be skimming a case. We know how to get our hands on cheap study aids. We know the study habits that work best for us. We know how to prioritize our time. We know how to handle the stress and calm our nerves [ignore the inevitable in other words].
4. And finally, it just hit me that after these finals I am half-way through my law school journey. Whoo-hoo! Seemed like it was going to take forever when I started this journey. In reality, it is flying right on by.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Historic Hero: Alice Paul

"This world crisis came about without women having anything to do with it. If the women of the world had not been excluded from world affairs, things today might have been different." -- Alice Paul.

Alice Paul is a name that we do not hear about often enough in our history classes. Our daughters probably will not learn about her courage or her strength, but they should. Alice Paul was one of the leaders of the suffrage movement. She was an educated women in 1907, when most women barely finished high school. She held what would be the equivalent today of an MBA in Economics, having studied in London. After returning to the states, she began fighting vigilantly for the women's right to vote. In November of 1917, she lead a silent picket at the White House. For her efforts, her whole group of women were arrested. These women were brutally beat by the guards at the prison. Alice responded by going on a hunger strike. The prison then inserted a tube town her throat and force fed her raw eggs to keep her alive.

Woodrow Wilson, the President of the United States, attempted to silence her by having a psychiatrist find her insane. The psychiatrist refused saying that courage sometimes looks like insanity. [Note that Mr. Wilson is NOT my favorite President]. Alice's drive and determination led to the passage of the 19th Amendment, granting the women the right to vote. A right that democrats and the President viciously fought, even to the point of imprisoning many women.

Alice saw the war at the time, and the depression that followed as things that happened because one-half of the population had no right to political process. Men, and more often than not, white European men, owned the wealth and controlled the power. In the US, as in many other countries, while women could vote, they could not own property or direct any political process.

As I ran across the quote above, I realized how little times have changed. Women disproportionately represent our nation. The power still lies within a few hands, of the few powerful, of the few wealthy. Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating socialism. I just find it interesting that like history before, the black man received the right to vote before the woman. The black man received a civil rights act [equal protection act] before the woman. A black man obtained the most powerful office in the world, before a woman.

In reflecting, I realized just how far women have to go. An equal rights amendment for gender has NEVER passed. And this year, a woman ran for both the President and the Vice-Presidency. Both women were brutally scrutinized in ways that men [black or white] never are. They were asked intrusive questions, people commented on their wardrobe, and the "shrill" of their voices were often made fun of. And the saddest part of all of this, was it was not men alone making these comments, but women as well.

Things may be better in this country. I can vote. I can get an education. But the statistics show that I will not be offered the same jobs as a man of equal age and qualifications. I can be a mom. I can be a successful lawyer. But some in the legal community tell me that I will have to seek "non-traditional" roles because I cannot be both. I guess I am mourning the loss of a lady that I had never heard of before, Alice Paul. And I am wondering, when another Alice will rise up? A lady of principal. A lady that pushed the envelope of her times. A lady that in her 30's obtained a law degree. A lady that valiantly fought for her cause: Equal protection for all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What would make you a GREAT defense attorney?

This week I competed in the Don Turner Criminal Trial Competition. In all honesty, due to several mitigating circumstances, my team did not do as well as we hoped. But we will be ready next year! Anyway, the moot court judge for the evening asked us each what we wanted to do. I said I definately wanted to litigate and be a prosecutor. To which this attorney responded, "What would make you a GREAT defense attorney?" I sat there stunned. He went on to explain that I needed to figure that out because part of being a great attorney was to know how to play the game of prosecutor, defense, and judge.

Interesting perspective for sure. And it definately got me thinking. Why do I despise the thought of criminal defense. I instinctively go "Ew." Which makes it hard for me to think about how I would do that job, play that role. If it is just because I don't want to deal with "icky" people---this makes no sense. I will deal with icky people in prosecution to, often times as witnesses.

So, I have been thinking about it alot. No matter what role I play, I have a great abiding love and respect for the law and the constitution. I believe that it applies to all people, no matter whether guilty or innocent. I am great, and I mean great, of picking apart arguments and seeing the other side. I can instinctively anticipate where the other person is going. When I analysis a case at work, I often find myself thinking about what I would do if I were defending the parent, rather than working to terminate the parental rights. I think hard about what the defense attorney is doing, and what I would do differently (one thing I have learned is I would NEVER surf the web, bidding on Ebay for bicycle wheels). I look hard at the weaknesses of our arguments and work hard at gathering evidence. After thinking this all through, I came to the conclusion that I could do defense work. Legal defense is not always about getting your client off, it is about making sure that their constitutional rights are not denied. That does not mean that I would ever represent a sex offender---NEVER. But I could see myself doing other defense work.

To sum it up, I guess the key is flexibility. Don't box yourself into something. Instead be willing to review, change, adapt, and attack again. This should be about life in general, but should also be about the practice of law.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Budgeting and the single parent

Budgeting is the hardest thing about being a law student and having a child. Because your graduate expenses are all loans, budgeting is very, very important. There is very little wiggle room. Children of law students already make a lot of sacrifices due to time restrictions on the single parent. To top it off, they also make financial sacrifices. Sometimes these sacrifices seem painful even for the parent.

My daughter has had the same bike for about 4 years now. I was hoping that it would make it to spring time, and I would buy her one that was a bit bigger. But this week, the front brakes blew out and then today she wrecked it and flattened both tires. Her little friend down the street had the same thing happen. Her friend's mom took the girls to WalMart and bought the little girl a new bike. When I came home, there was my daughter crying away because she no longer has a bike.

Now the logical side of me realizes that giving a child everything they want, when they want it---well, that's never a good thing. I said to her that I understood her frustration, but that I did not have the money for it right now, and Christmas was around the corner. "But she got one and her mom is a single mom and her mom did not have the money either." The lessons of life are sometimes painful. But my daughter hears more often then not, "Not now honey, maybe next month. I don't have the money right now." Money and budgeting is the hardest part. We live in a nice place, we have nice things, we have food in the refrigerator, and we are blessed with wonderful family and friends. We have more than most. However, a child constantly measures herself against others, and it is hard when they see what appears to be easy acquisitions for others and do not understand why they cannot get the same.

Book Review: Twilight

So, I bought into the hype and bought the book......Great premise, great character tension, but oh boy, what tripe. I was not expecting Pride & Prejudice. I don't know what I was expecting. The plots for the next couple of books is laid out for us. So in a one word sum: predictable.

Will I see the movie? Yes, but not because the book was so great. More because it was shot around here and I always see movies shot in my backyard. Also, I am wondering if Hollywood can improve on the story.


The world's economy is tottering on the brink, wars are breaking out, Russia is flexing her muscle, jobless claims have risen domestically, and the stock market is like a bi-polar without medication AND.....the story from O's news conference yesterday was.....................So, what type of dog are you bringing to the White House?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Working across the aisle...right!

In an event that I should have seen coming but did not, Senate Majority Leader Reid called Senator Lieberman into his office today for a meeting. While neither man is talking about what was said, I am betting the conversation went something like this:
Reid: Joe, you are a backstabbing, ungrateful dude, whom we can no longer trust. So here is the deal, considering you threw our guy under the bus, we are going to strip you of your powerful committe seat and send you to count the tiles in the foyer UNLESS you promise to always vote with the Dems. No more embarrassing us Joe.
Lieberman: [Silent but fuming] You have given me alot to think about.

So, why bother? Here is why....the Dems are close, and I mean very close to being able to write whatever piece of legislation they want to give it to their boy, O. What stands in thier was? That's right, the fillabuster. If R's can organize enough, they could bring the Senate floor to a standstill. Now, even if that can't stop the fillabuster, watch the Dems threaten the nuclear option anyway, even if the would have been livid had the R's done it 4 years ago when they could not get their judicial nominees on the floor for a vote.

So, as the count stood last, there were 57 Dems and 2 independents who vote with Dems usually. 1 Senate Seat in MN undergoing a recount, but it looks like the seat will go to an R. 1 Seat in AK, which if Stevens can hang on there with the absentee ballots, it will go to an R. And a run-off in Georgia that is anybody's guess. In order for the Dems to block a R led fillibuster, they must have 60 votes lined up to send a bill to a full vote. Even if they pick up GA, they would be dependent upon the 2 independents voting with them.

Where does this leave Joe? Arguably one of the most powerful men in the Senate. See, he could pick what goes through and is signed into legislation, and what is stymied on the floor of the Senate. The Justice Kennedy of the Senate, so to speak.

Joe's a bit of a wild card. Why would he owe alliegence to the party that sold him out and wanted his seat to go to someone else? I mean really, I would seriously think about thumbing my nose at Mr. Reid, committee chair or no. Joe also had the kaputz to support a man from the other party. Why? Because whether you agree with Joe's politics or not, the man stands by his convictions and is a true statesman. He is not afraid to tell it like he thinks it. He is not afraid to make unpopular decisions. And he is not afraid to rock the boat. He is also a fighter. I don't agree with his politics, but I have one heck of amount of respect for Senator Lieberman.

Not that you would read this Senator, but I say, tell the smuck this: You call this reaching across the aisle? You call this uniting America? Take your thug tactics and shove them. I stand by my convictions and no one is going to bully me into being anyone's patsy.

The Fight Begins.....

Today, a writ of petition was filed in order to challenge California's Prop 8, which just passed on Tuesday. I asked today in my Con Law class what the implications were for gay and lesbians in California. Here is why this is going to be fought out in the courts: The drafters, in retaliation to what the California Supreme Court decided in May, placed thier provision within the Equal Protection Clause. Here is why this is important to watch: Equal protection applies to all people. By placing words that limited equal protection, the question becomes will this effect equal protection as it applies to discrimination protections for sexual orientation. The unanswered question with this insertion of language applies to whether employers can discrimate based on sexual orientation or can landlords refuse to rent to gay and lesbian people. Implicitly attacking the equal protection clause is dangerous in that the attack opens the door for the ability to discriminate to anyone who is not heterosexual. Whether you are for or against same sex marriages, this should alarm you.

November = CRAZY

November for the law student, equates to craziness. This is true. November is the month were we students start thinking, "Oh by golly, there are only 3 more weeks of classes! Holy Cow!" As a second year student, we start wondering how are we going to balance everything: work, school, life, and if you are like me, the moot court competition that needs to be squeezed in.

The student [that would be me] loses sleep. We become grumpy. Our family starts wondering where we are, and why we have not been in touch. If you have kids [I have one], they start thinking that some crazy person has taken over mom's body. This person has less patience than normal, her eyes look wild, and she yells at little provocation.

Then to top it all of, our school district, in all of it's infinate wisdom, also gives a total of 6 days off during this month. So, now I am juggling where my child is going to go while I am at school or work. More stress = more craziness!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Advice to the R's.......

You all better get organized. Last night was a sound spanking from the American people. You want to know why you have experienced failure? You want to know why we the people are disgusted? Let me tell you...........

You lost your identity. You lost what made you great in 1996. You breeched your contract with America. You spent like a drunk democrat, you expanded government to unprecedented levels, and you allowed the President to expand his powers beyond belief. And then, as if that was not disgraceful enough, you turned on each other like jackels fighting over a carcus. Absolutely disgusting.

What happened to personal responsibility? What happened to small government? What happened to reducing spending? What happened to deregulation? What happaned to helping business? What happened?

And don't get me started on how you jumped ship on Bush. You could not distance yourself faster......NONE of you stood by him, fought the press, and spoke the truth. You allowed the Media (if you can call them that) to define him and to define you. In the end, it was your arrogance that destroyed you.

My advice: regroup. Stop listening to the media--they want to see the destruction of your party. Remember that the Constitution was written to protect the insular and discrete minority. Organize. Redefine. And go back to the roots. Let the young, new voices guide you. Stop compromising. STICK TOGETHER.

Advice to the Dems......

Do you want to remain in power? Let me share with you some advice: the average American person is moderate. Unless you do not want history to repeat itself, you better rein in the liberals in your party and "center" your agenda. We the people are tired of the divisive, dirty politics, that have racked the last 8 years........As much as the President was to blame, you all take part of that blame as well. So you better have a plan, and it better be center.

Think I am joking? Let me remind you. The last time the Dems enjoyed this kind of control was in 1992, when Clinton took office. That lasted exactly two years---and then the people were disgusted and elected a Republican controlled Congress. This was the beginning of the problems. Do not, by any means, believe that this election was a mandate for progressive, liberal ideas. What it was a mandate for was "Change" and honestly, I don't know what that really means, no one has explained it to me yet. We in the legal world call this an ambiguous term.

So here's the deal: As a registered independant, I am willing to give you all the benefit of the doubt. So go get to work, but realize that we the people are watching you...................

Nationwide Initiative Results

Last night I wrote about the initiatives that I was keeping tabs on......All the initiatives dealing with abortion failed. The one that surprised me the most was the parental notification one in California----the final count was close, very close indeed. I expected a resounding no to this one, but it appears that the voters are moving closer to requiring the 48 hour notice. The Colorado initiative that would have defined a person as beginning at fertilization was soundly defeated. The South Dakota ban on abortions except in the case of rape and incest was very close but failed. Neither of these surprise me too much because empirical evidence shows that most Americans believe in the right to choose within the first 3 months. If the right to life organizers want to launch serious attacks, they should focus on the 2nd semester ban and then work downward.

California Proposition 8 was surprising to me. I guess I assume that California is composed of fairly liberal individuals and my assumption was wrong. Which begs the question: Was this a slap at the California Supreme Court or a referendum on the meaning of marriage? AND, what remedy in the law do same-sex couples have in order to change the wording put in by the people? Can the legislature override this? Does the Supreme Court have to abide by this? (The answer of course is yes). And finally, what happens to the some 16,000 marriages that have been preformed since June 17, 2008? All matters the court is going to have to deal with in the coming months and years ahead.

Finally with this issue, Prop 8 effected the equal protection section of the law of California to NOT apply to same sex couples. Equal protection has always referred to a person, but in the SC or California extending this to couples, they opened a thorny issue that could actually errode civil rights for those who would want to protect the classification of sexual orientation. Perhaps the court did more harm then good with their May ruling.

Also, Florida voters approved an amendment that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

On the whole, results last night were interesting as to what will effect the legal community.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More impressions......

My daughter cried, "We're going to die." Somehow, someone convinced her that Obama meant the end of the world and we are all going to die. Now, it was not me....honestly. I did not speak ill of Obama to her. I did not reveal who I voted for because honestly, until I sat down to vote, I remained undecided. She gave me a good laugh and then we sat down to watch his acceptance speech.

I was moved. The man is a great orator. Do I believe every promise? No. But I don't believe that of any politician. But the strangest thing moved me.........I elluded to it in an earlier post: the making of history.

I watched Jesse Jackson as tears rolled down his face, watch Obama speak. And I thought that this is the man that walked along side Martin Luther King Jr. and fought long and hard for equal protection under the law---what was he feeling knowing that because of the work he had done, Obama was making that speech? Now, this was strange for me. I am not a big fan of Jackson politically. But to be a part of a generation that watched that moment....I paused. I told my daughter, "You watch this. This is an important moment being made in history. Remember this."

In the span of Obama's 47 years, he was born to a world which did not recognize him as equal. He experienced discrimination and racism. Yet, in the span of his lifetime, he has fulfilled his dream. And in doing so, fulfilled the dreams of those who toiled the fields of racism for years before him. If for no other reason, our nation should be proud of the fact that today is the day that the nation decided based on political message, not the color of one man's skin.....

Now I just wait for the day that this applies to women.......

O elected as President

So the news is out: Barak Obama is the president elect and will take office in January. For what it is worth, here are my thoughts:

1. The ability for a black man to win this office would have been unheard of 40 years ago, maybe even 10 years ago. This is proof that the walls of opportunity for a black man have clearly been torn down. Tonight marks an important historical moment in consideration of the history of this nation. Tonight is proof that a nation can turn it's back on bigotry and hate to promote equality and justice to all regardless of race.

2. Change was the best coin word, PR work of the decade. We don't even know what change was promised to us, we only know that "change" is a coming. The coming year will be interesting to what the defination of change means.

3. What do I think "change" meant? Honestly, I think that people hungered for a change from the current administration, meaning Bush. The people, overwhelmingly, are tired of the approach of secrecy and unilateral decisions made by the Bush Administration.

4. I am going to hold out hope that Obama moves center and remembers that we are a moderate country. But I will make the following predictions for the next four years:

  • Taxes will increase. Sorry wealthy people who make more than 250,000 a year, you are going to be looking at paying 5-7% more in taxes.
  • Justice Stevens will retire from the Supreme Court and therefore, O will nominate a justice. Look for it to happen in the next two years because then there will be no fight in the Senate for confirmation (plus Justice Stevens is 86 years old).
  • There will NOT be an immediate pullout in Iraq. I remain convinced that once O sees the intelligence reports and is briefed, his tune is going to change a bit there.
  • Major layoffs by corporations who will fear the policy changes being made that effect the bottom line of their profits.
  • Energy prices will skyrocket.
  • Uncontrolled spending because there are no checks and balances between the Congress and President. You and I will pay---and then our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
  • The fairness doctrine will be attacked--watch out Rush, Sean, and Glen. They will be gunning for you.

Don't get me wrong: I remain optimistic the Barak Obama will work with diplomacy and grace. I also think he has a shot at working across the aisle and pulling down a consensus. What frightens me is the fact that two branches of the government will be controlled by one political party----the government was not set up to work this way.

The good news: We always swing to the right, then center, then left. We are in that cycle.

Ballot initiatives take on major social issues

Ballot initiatives this season involve some very controversial issues that will provoke hot feelings on either side. The state of Colorado will basically outlaw abortion if the initiative passes in this state. The proposed ballot would add to the Colorado state constitution defining a person to "include any human being from the moment of fertilization." This would effectively knock the wind out of Roe v. Wade or the language of the predecessor, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. South Dakota has an initiative on the ballot which would outlaw all abortions unless the woman was subject to rape or incest. Even liberal California is stepping in with a proposition to require 48 hour parental notification (which by the way is allowed due to the reasoning of Casey). Finally, California again with prop 8 would overturn the California State Supreme Court’s decision, which overturned the will of the people, which would define marriage between a man and a woman.

All of these are hot-topic buttons. While the same-sex marriage argument is nothing new in recent years, the abortion initiatives are. Why? What are these states, or people who propose ballots up to? In an answer: challenging Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade can only be overturned completely by the United States Supreme Court. With the resignation of O’Connor, and the appointments of Roberts and Alito, the court is posed to overturn this 1973 decision. In order for the court to do so, there must be a case to adjudicate.

The one to watch will be the Colorado statute defining a person. The Supreme Court has never definitively defined when personhood begins. And the Supreme Court would not have the power to direct whether a state constitution is constitutional. This is a major violation of federal powers.

I will be watching with great interest to see where the people through the voters stand. Rather than the courts, or Congress.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tired of dirty politics

Yep, you read it right. I am tired of this dirty political commerical season. I am tired of the blantant fear mongering and lies..........all for what? These politicians are selling their integrity right down the drains and doing nothing but reinforcing the publics belief that politics is a dirty affair. I am also tired of the hypocracy of it all. A few examples:

Oregon's Senator Race: Smith v. Merkley. This is probably the most shameful excuse and set of ads for a political race I have ever seen. I seriously am considering writing in "Mickey Mouse" because the mouse could do better than these two jokers. First, Smith catches Merkley eating a hotdog during a neighborhood event and asks him about the situation in Georgia. To which Merkley response clearly indicates the state, not country, of Georgia. Then there is a question about if that is the guy you want in the senate. Distastful, yes. Unfair? Absolutely. On Merkley's side is a commercial stating that Smith would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. In addition, Smith has voted 90% of the time with President Bush. Um, hello!!! First, Smith could not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Only the court can overturn it's own caselaw. Second, President Bush DOES NOT HAVE A VOTE IN THE SENATE!!! How can Smith vote with Bush?

The Congressional Race with Erickson (R) is shameful on both sides. One calling Erickson a liar and someone who covered up an ex's abortion and Erickson accusing his opponent of raising taxes and then not paying his taxes because he could not afford them.

The Governor Race in Washington: I don't have a pony in this race. But I do see the ads. Gregoire states that Rossi would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and he voted to deny unemployment benefits for battered women. Again, the Governor cannot vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. And unemployment benefits are for unemployed people, not battered women (unless they lost their job). There are other government programs available to battered women.

The Presidential Race: This is where I find the hypocracy. The sheer amount of money being spent is enough to make me ill. And both these men are concerned with the economy and the middle class? I don't think so! I find it particularly disgraceful that one candidate has a TV channel devoted exclusively to him on DISH TV, and spent mega money for infomercials on the major network stations. Our country is in a sad state of affairs financially, but he squandered that kind of money on ads. People are starving in this country, they are losing their houses, but he spent millions on tv programming to shamelessly promote himself. The only thing that probably prevented McCain from doing the same was lack of finances.......But his hypocracy is different. He complained and complained about Obama's lack of experience and then goes and finds a VP candidate that has no formal legal training and very little national governing experience (if any). And yet he still states that Obama is unqualified.

Maybe I just don't have time for this crud anymore, but this season can't end soon enough. I wonder what would happen if on election day, no one turned up at the polls? Or if we all just voted for ourselves? I wish there was someway of getting our point across that the public can see right through their actions!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My worlds colliding.....

Every once in a while, it feels as if all my worlds come to a head. Maybe worlds is not the correct terminology, rather the many hats that I wear. The hat of a mother, a woman, a student, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and employee..................Sometimes they collide. Juggling the variety of issues that a single parent has to in order to attend law school is tough to say the least.

I admit that I have been in a funk lately because I feel most overwhelmed by the constant juggling. Sometimes, I just want to be a mom. I worry that all the other demands on me will adversely effect my child. Sometimes I worry that she will feel that the job or my studies are more important than her. The truth is that I do this because of her. Because someday I want her to have an example of what it means to chase your dreams. I want her to have the things I did not have growing up. I want her to be able to go to any school she desires, and for money to not be an issue. I want her to understand the importance of an education and to value what one can do for your life.

But, when it is dark and I am by myself with my thoughts, I wonder if she will resent the sacrafices that she has had to make. She said to me the other day, "I hate law school. Why can't you be a regular mom!" I don't know what that is.......a "regular" mom. Maybe there is no such thing and if she had that "regular" mom, she would yell for a normal one, I don't know.

I realize that in 19 or 20 months, when I cross the stage for my law degree, this won't matter so much. It will seem like a dream. And I know she is proud of me and will be proud then too. I just wish that the hat of the mother and student were not so diametrically opposed to one another.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Political Speak in Law School

One thing has consistently bothered me in law school......the assumption by students and faculty that all students subscribe to a progressive, liberal ideology. This has been frusterating for me. And, my eyes are truly open to the fact that law school is certainly not diverse in the area of politics---or at least not tolerant to different political ideas.

I survived the first year with faculty taking pot shots at President Bush. I listened to student after student say many things, often not grounded in fact, about the Administration. Now, I need to reveal before I go further that I am a registered independent who has leaned Republican, but have voted Democrated. I tend to be very conservative on fiscal issues, but fairly moderate to liberal on social issues. I have not agreed with every policy of the Bush Administration and have often dispaired that the powers of the executive branch have been far to expansive under this President.

However, when I have had to try and speak up, I was belittled. This year, the common denominator seems to be the assumption that we must all be voting for Obama. I really don't know who I will vote for. I have to decide whose policies I fear the most, because I am not satisfied that either man can provide the decisive leadership the US will need in the coming years. However, what I cannot abide by is the ugly jokes and belitting that I have heard in reference to Sarah Palin. When you ask these students what they know about Sarah, it is little more that what was provided by the Huffington Post.

I am not saying that Palin is perfect, or that I do not have concerns. But to treat her as if she is a stupid booble head bimbo. I hate this gender bias and I hate that educated articulate people would perpetuate this..........

I guess what is disappointing is that there seems to be a lack of tolerance. There also seems to be a large assumption that all law students must think politically the same. We don't. AND, I would go as far to argue that being a simple party hack and voting party lines is scary to say the least. Neither party is perfect. And in the last month, we have seen that both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for the mess that our economy is in. The Dems for turning a blind eye, and the Repubs for spending like there was no tomorrow. We, as future lawyers, should be smart enough to embrace debate on these views and to not buy into ideology that is divisive.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Frivolous lawsuit alert!

Below is a link to a story about how a Obama supporter in Oklahoma City is suing McCain for causing her mental anguish. She alleges that McCain/Palin has "incited violence against" Obama and this has caused her great mental distress. She claims to be in fear the the presidential's candidates life.

I could not find that complaint because it was just filed today, so presumably, it has not made it's way through the system. But think about this? McCain/Palin have not made any statements that incite violence or constitute hate speech. It is well documented that supporters have made unappropriate comments at rallies, but both candidates have admonished these people. What else can they do?

Not to mention, if this was true, perhaps I should institute a lawsuit against Oliver Stone for defamation against W and claim that his efforts have caused me great anguish and grave mental distress.

What I want to know is what irresponsible lawyer filed this suit? There is no cause of action here. Ms. Green has suffered no physical harm. McCain/Palin made no remarks. And it is a well stated rule in law that a third party can not be held liable for the tortious or criminal acts of another [minus conspiracy or felony murder]. The lawyer ought to be sanctioned.

Minus that---quick, someone get this woman some meds! FED EX, where are you when we need you?


Saturday, October 11, 2008

NYC: Free speech and the classroom

Above is a link to a story I saw on the news this morning. The school board in NYC has told teachers that they cannot wear Obama/Biden pins in the classroom. Teachers, through their labor union, has initiated a law suit claiming that the policy violates their free speech.

I find with this story, two of my views diametrically opposed. First, one has to understand that speech is not absolute and there are limitations. Having said this, because these pins are likely to count as "political" speech and is one of the most protected forms of speech. I am usually pretty pro-speech. I may not like it, but we all have a right to say our piece.

However, I think that this actually goes too far. Why, one might ask? Let me explain. What is the point of wearing a pin into a classroom full of students that cannot vote anyway? Why should personal opinions about elections be able to enter the classroom? I guess I believe that there are two topics that should remain taboo in the classroom: religion and politics. Both subjects can be highly contentious. Both imply alot about a persons core beliefs and morals. I do not believe that a sign of political support should make it's way in the classroom.

Lawyering at home....

I often wonder how much of my law school experience comes home with me. No kidding, the other night I grounded my daughter. She was grounded from playing outside for three nights. On the third night she began to beg, "Mom, please let me just go outside!" No, I say. "I'll pay you to go outside." No, I say, you can't pay your way out of jail. "Yes mom, you can. It's called a bail bond." I tried not to laugh, I really did. I had to explain that her sentence had already been imposed upon her and she could not buy her way out. That this too was against the law, even mommy law. She argued. I had to tell her she was going to get sentenced again. She said, "Why?" I said for trying to bribe a mommy official. She shut up.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thinking like a lawyer

They [Prof S, they = you law school professors] warn student in law school that the student will "think like a lawyer." I admit to wondering instantly what does that mean? I struggled through the first year only to be thankful that I could still think at all. And then...........I realize....

1. I will begin to catagorize statements I hear out of my courtroom as to whether they are hearsay. For instance, a friend might want to tell me what another friend said about me (in normal land this is gossip, or even perhaps libel/slander) and I will say, Objection, hearsay. Well, I might not say it out loud, but I am beginning to think it through in my head. I am catagorizing, was that an out of court statement asserted for the proof the truth therein?

2. Cross examination makes it way to my courtroom (oops, I meant my home). "Mom, Walker is being mean to me!" To which I set my daughter down, under a spot light and the drill begins......"Mean is so ambigious. Define mean." Oh, he called you a name. What name was that? Were there any witnesses to his alledged name-calling? Did you do anything to provoke the alleged incident? All this while her eyes are growing bigger, rounder, and absolutely more blank looking. And you wonder, is that hearsay, or is there some exception to the rule.

3. In my courtroom, I rule. Yes, this is right. I interpret the law. This means that my daughter, while she can certainly proffer a nice, reasoned argument to advocate for herself, I and I alone decide the outcome. No jury allowed in my courtroom. And darn it all, when I ask a question or make a statement, do not, I repeat do not, answer my question with a question. Especially the word why. This is my courtroom, I get to talk.

4. It's political season. Normally I am excited at this prospect, but as the candidates and parties yak at me I want to yell at them: Counsel, where's the merit? Where are the facts! This court deals with facts, not speculation. Give me substanitive issues here. Followed by: Stop leading the witness! Followed by: Liar, you just committed fraud, misrepresentation, and perhaps even inducement. And then I want to sit the candidates down and explain this little piece of paper to them called the Constitution and define to them what their powers as the President would be versus the power that they held in the Congress. AGH.

So, it's true. The lense that I view the world with is forever changed. Whether for the good or the bad, I guess that all depends on who you pose that question to.

Phew, glad I got that out of my system.......................

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout Fails......Saga Continues

When the votes came down, I have to say I was shocked. The bailout failed. It seems that "we the people" are calling our congressional reps and making it clear that because their seats are all up for grabs every 2 years, they better be voting it down-----and many did.

What I find fascinating was the voting breakdown in the state of Oregon. Oregon has 5 Congressional seats. No surprise that Congresswoman Hooley voted for the bailout. 1) She is a true party woman; 2) she is not running for re-election. Wu, DeFazio, and Blumeanour voted against the bailout. This shocked me. These reps are solid party hacks and usually vote party lines. So what gives here? None of these men have any real competition. I am still trying to puzzle this one out.

Greg Walden is a Republican and voted for the bailout. There could be many reasons for this, but I do admit to a bit of confusion on this vote as well. However, at a guess, he has been in this seat since 1992, and someone in the party pulled in a favor. Likely he has no real competition either for his seat, and so it was expedient (in other words, perhaps someone now owes him a favor) and of no consequence.

I did about lose my lunch when watching Madame Speaker pointing the evil finger at the Administration. (Lady, do you know how to zip it?----Obviously the answer is no!) What bothers me the most is that Congress is responsible for this current crisis, not the President. Congress should have been passing oversight rules. Congress should have been insuring there was oversight on the lending institutions. Congress should have been doing alot of things, instead the Dems have blamed the Pres, and the Republicans have let them and then stood back and tried to stay clear of the stink fumes so as not to infect them. Well Madame Speaker, you have been in charge of making laws and allocating oversight for two years now and have sat on your thumb. Do not go shifting the blame. Buck it up, admit it, and play nice. This could have been the making of you. Now you look like a party hack and your nice, cushy Speaker gig could be up if your buddies lose confidence in your ability. Negotiation 101: Don't bite the hand that feeds you before you get your food.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hitting "The Wall"

This week, I hit the preverbile wall. What is "the wall" one might ask? It is when your body, mind, and spirit cannot handle one more new thought, one more stressor, or one more unexpected happening. Unfortunately, it is not good that the wall came so early in the semester.

10 days ago, I woke up and was just plain tired. My daughter was sick. So, I called into work (since I did not have classes) and we slept---almost 24 hours straight!!!! Saturday was no better, and on Sunday, my daughter was running a fever and sick. Monday, I took her to the doctor and she tested positive for strep. Lucky me. By the way, Sunday I woke up with a sore throat. I missed classes on Tuesday, went to work on Wednesday as the walking wounded, and by Thursday I was in the doctor's office.

Maybe it's the fact that I am starting my sixth consecutive year of schooling, I don't know. But I am tired of class. Here's hoping this last week "off" rejuvenates me. 8 more weeks to go before finals.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Truth About the Current Financial Crisis

This blog is supposed to be about my experiences in law school, but every once in awhile, I have to take on current events. Earlier this week, our school had a professor that used the email list serve to send out a email which blamed the current crisis on the Bush Administration. In addition, it stated that George W. was going to hand out a 700 Billion dollar blank check to his pals on wall street. This set me off. Law professors should be more educated about the powers of the president than the average person. When I go to the nail salon, I expected to hear a comment like this. I do not expect to hear this at my school.

Here is the truth: In 1977, a Democratic controlled Congress passed The Community Reinvestment Act in which President Carter signed into law. This instructed lending institutions to expand the percentage of loans issued to minorities and the poor for homes. In 1995, under a Democratic controlled Congress, this act was expanded tremendously and signed by President Clinton. This directed that 42% of all of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's loans must be issued to low income and minorities. Thus truly began the sub-prime mortgage nightmare. There were no regulations built in that allowed for executive power oversight, and indeed no independent agency was given the authority to oversee what was happening within the mortgage practices. Delegating this oversight is the responsibility of THE CONGRESS, not the President. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began issueing loans to people, where it took 40-50% of thier incomes to make the monthly payments. With the price of oil and food increasing dramatically in the past 2-3 years, this caused substantial strain on the ability of people to pay their mortgage notes.

Now, this is an ABC Sesame Street account of the story because it is much more complex than this. This recount does not account for hedgefunds and the lack of oversight on the wall street fat cats.

In 2003, the Bush Administration recommended what the NY Times called "the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago." This change was to move governmental supervision of two of the primary agents guaranteeing subprime loans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae under a new agency created within the Department of the Treasury. However, it did not alter the implicit guarantee that Washington will bail the companies out if they run into financial difficulty; that perception enabled them to issue debt at significantly lower rates than their competitors. The changes were generally opposed along Party lines and eventually failed to happen. Representative Barney Frank(D-MA) claimed of the thrifts "These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis, the more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing." Representative Mel Watt (D-NC) added "I don't see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing."

This is worriesome to say the least that we have placed, as a country, the power in the hands of the democrats who refused to see the writing on the wall. I point this out to say that Bush's Administration attempted to address this issue 5 YEARS AGO. AND CONGRESS FAILED TO ACT. I think this was willful blindless on behalf of the branch of government that is supposed to make the laws and to arrange for oversight of the laws.

If the Bush Administration is guilty of anything, it is in not being aggressive enough in bringing the problem to light. Perhaps the administration was distracted by other issues, but that does not excuse the Administration for remaining silent for so long. They should have been calling the Congress out on the carpet and alerting the American people of the fact that their elected officials were unwilling to regulate this are of law. Too much rides on financial markets for these institutions not to be regulated by the government. I do not mean controlled, I mean under scrutiny for abuse.

Congress makes the laws. The President enforces the laws. Period. But right now, it does not matter who got this country into the situation, what matters now is how do we get out? It is time for all of us to let our officials know that enough is enough, and if you can't fix this responsibly, then we the people, will boot your butts out of office November 4th. Stop bickering and start working---Oh, and make the fat cats pay, not we the people. We did not get us there, you did Congress men and women. Suck it up and stick it to those that abused the system and those that fell asleep at the wheel when they should have been watching.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

2nd Year Stress

Second year in law school, I am finding, is absolutely tougher than the first year. Let me explain. As a second year law student, you know the ropes of the schooling. You know how to outline, you know what you can get away with as far as reading/not reading, you know your own study habits. So the journey should be easier, right? Wrong.

There is one major change: work. The first year of law school, at least at Willamette, you are banned from holding a job. But your second year, it is considered an advantage. Now don't get me wrong, I love me job. I believe in what I am doing, I work with a GREAT group of lawyers and paralegals, and in many respects classtime is about learning the law, but at work I get to see the law applied to the "real world." This is irreplaceable. However, it is difficult to balance work and school. Throw into that children, housework, and a daughter's very busy social schedule = one VERY tired mommy.

I am approaching the wall hitting break. Unfortunately, I had not come even close to this mythical, but real wall, last year until November.

Last year for me was a breeze. This year is feeling a little stormy.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I Survived!

I survived my first year of law school and feel such a sense of awe and acomplishment! My brain is so numb right now though---numb enough that I don't even want to touch the stack of fiction I have been eagerly awaiting the ability to have time to read. I sat on a recliner all weekend and enjoyed the ability to do nothing, but by Sunday evening I began to feel like I did not even know what I would do with myself!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tips to incoming students....

These past several weeks have been so interesting to me because I have met several admitted students. I have had time to think about what I wished I would have known or things I was glad to have known. Here they are.

1. I am so glad I had knowledge of the basic set up of our government system and how it worked. I watched fellow students who had no background, but degrees in psychology or math, struggle with not only learning "law" speak; but learning basic government structure. I was a poli sci major and the first couple of weeks for me where a breeze. LESSON: Read up this summer on the structure of the US government if you have no background in that area.

2. I wish I would have had a student mentor. Willamette has this program, but I did not utilize it. 2 and 3L's are a source of knowledge like no other. They have slogged through the trenches and most are willing to help you out. LESSON LEARNED: Get a mentor or befriend upper classmen. This way you do not waste valuable time or resources.

3. I wish I would have invested more in study aids. Law school really is about learning on your own. Study aids are a great tool in doing this. I wish that I would have borrowed, bought, or checked out more study aids. Unfortunately, I paid no attention to these nifty little aids until finals my second semester. LESSON LEARNED: Crunchtime is your friend.

4. I wish I would have stayed in touch with my friends. My biggest regret is distancing myself from my friends. During law school, you need as much support as you can get and friends are a valuable source of encouragement, strength and peace of mind. LESSON: Lean on your friends. They won't understand everything that happens to you; but they will understand you.

5. I wish I would have taken hand notes, rather than used my laptop in class. Why? Two reasons. 1) Because if you handwrite, then you transpose on to the computer which translates to repetition and helps in memory. 2) Computer = temptation to surf the internet. Sometimes, especially if the subject matter is boring, the temptation is too much to bare. LESSON LEARNED: Computer good, handwriting better, Internet = bad.

6. I wished I would have talked to more law students before entering law school. I can not tell you how many times I was surprised, shocked, or did not understand how it was really going to go until AFTER attending school. I never understood the significance of the mandatory curve, or what Moot Court was, or about First Year Appellate arguements. I did not know what the first year classes was really like, or what the Socratic method was. I did not understand how scary and intimidating that professors could be (or how nice, or how pontificating). LESSON LEARNED: Research is important; forewarned is forearmed.

7. I wish that I would have taken Legal Research and Writing more seriously. I did not see the importance of this class until it was almost too late. In addition, because at Willamette this is a pass/fail class, you do what you have to just to pass. And in doing so, you cheat yourself of VERY valuable skills, maybe the most important you will gain in law school. LESSON: Even if the class seems worthless, it is not.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Finals Contract Over

Yesterday, I had the misfortune of experiencing the most BRUTAL exam I have ever experience to date in my law school experience. Mr. Runkel, if you read this---CHEERS, you accomplished something no other Professor has done, rattled me.

I walked out of that exam room literally numb------my brain could not function at all. I also walked out and realized I missed a CRUCIAL element of reasoning on the exam. I left out 3rd party beneficiary. So, I think the best I can hope for there is about a B, maybe. Only time will tell.......

Time to move on. Friday is International Law. So, as it stands, 1 is down, 3 more to go!!!!

Approaching Finals.........

Fate sometimes has a sick sense of humor. Friday morning, the last day of classes, I wake up with a sore throat so bad and a fever. Golly gee---apparently stress raises a hormone in your body that then weakens your immune system:) Go figure.

So I finished classes. I weird thing about the conclusion of classes for the semester is that the students applaud the Professor. Interesting thing to do and I have never understood it. I mean are we applauding a job well done; or are we really applauding the fact that this person that either bored us, tortured us, patronized us, humilated us, or in some ways truly entertained us--is out of our lives for a few weeks or months?

Saturday I woke up feeling even worse. Which was terrible because I needed to study. And I had committed to speak on a panel to admitted students. The Admissions office (which by the way are some of the coolest people in the building), put together a preview day. Admitted students came and were treated to a "mock" class taught by a Con Law professor. They also were able to sit on panels to ask questions.

My panel dealt with attending law school with partners or children (or in some cases both). I was the only single parent on the panel and found a lot of people directed questions my way. A wife of a past student on the panel tried to explain what it was like living with a law student. She said that finals week was the worst because students live, eat, and breathe law. That we often are dazed and thinking only about rules and principles. As she is saying this, I realize that yep, I am there but not, and in fact, I am repeating the rules of contract law and unconscionability in my head!!! So true and funny.

Afterwards, there was a fabulous reception including free booze. I refrained from drinking (beer, cold medicine, and head colds generally do not mix well), but I did meet some really cool students coming into the school next year.

What was cool and energizing was seeing their excitement and energy. After a long and grueling first year, it was so refreshing to let their buzz influence me!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Approaching the end of my first year.....

I have a total of four more class periods to complete....and then onto finals. This is such a scary, yet exhilerating thought. I have learned more about myself in the last eight months than at any other time in my life. As I reflect back I am amazed at how hard I was stretched (at times painfully so), how I was challanged, and most of all, how proud I am of my response.

This has been a first year of accomplishments. Surpassing my own goals on grades for my first semester, capturing a job in a division that I wanted, placing runner-up in the First Year Appeallate Competition, and earning a spot on Willamette's Moot Court Board. I have worked hard, lost sleep, and dreamed big.

This is an important testimony for single parents around the nation. It is possible to succeed and excel in law school while having a child. My firm belief is that having a child gives you focus and forces the student to prioritize. The student becomes creative and thinks out of the box in problem solving, both in the classroom and at home.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Racism Debate: Law School and the Nation

One day early this semester, an unsuspecting Con Law class sat awaiting the start of a lecture. The professor entered the classroom and began to rail at the class about “allegations” made that involved white students making harassing and crude racial slurs at a black student. As a class, we were punitively punished by an assignment that included reading an additional 35 pages on race relations (on top of our other 35 pages that, oh by the way, dealt with racial discrimination in the 1960’s). The class was left stunned and reeling because this was the first students had heard about racism on campus. We left class that day feeling dirty, confused, and like guilty white racists, for what we still do not know.
Rumors and speculation spread. One week before, we had returned from winter break several of our classmates were missing. Why you ask? Because Willamette grades on a mandatory curve and some failed and were asked not to return. A comment was made that 70% of the students that did not make it back where minority. We began to wonder, was this observation and the comments made the alleged racist comment?
The faculty at the school responded---very belatedly. 2 ½ months later, the faculty called a convocation about sensitivity and professionalism in the field of law. This convocation was scarcely attended and highly scripted by the faculty. No new ground was broken. Dialogue was stinted and people were afraid to truly speak their minds for fear of being labeled, or chastised again, for what we still do not know. In addition, the faculty stressed that while they held an investigation into the “alleged” incident, they had no hard proof that it occurred.
This seemed troubling to me. In law school, we are told to “stick to the facts” and “the worst thing you can do is make up facts.” We are told, “you are innocent until proven guilty” and yet, the faculty had no facts (because all were alleged) and no trial or grievance process had been held. But as a community, we were held suspect and scolded. Again, for what, we still do not know.
My observation is that “the community” as a school, and to extend community our country as a nation, and further extending to the global community, are afraid to take on the topic of racism in real and frank terms. For the white person, this is a very, very sticky and tricky topic. Often, caucasions are accused of being racist for making comments that are not intended to be a slur, but are unintentionally racist or construed to be racist. One need only look to Geraldine Ferraro and her comments in regards to Barak Obama to see how easily and how quickly comments spiral out of control (Comments by Ferraro).
Now, let us turn to comments made by the Rev. Wright that are at the forefront of the political arena. Wright subscribes to a tenant of faith called black liberation theology, which attempts to reconcile the struggle of black oppression with that of Jesus’ message of freedom. In theory, these are appropriate analogies. However, Mr. Wright has preached from his pulpit the following statements:
"The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color", and "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike laws and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people...God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.”
Amazing that his comments are some how grounded in biblical principles, and yet Ms. Ferraro is a racist.
What has been happening in the law school, is nothing but a reflection of what is happening on a larger, national scale. It is time for this country, and this school, to acknowledge a few things.
1. Racism is alive and well. We cannot begin to think that it is not. However, it is time for understanding and frank conversation, without the fear of “racist” labels.
2. There is a difference between ignorance/misunderstanding and looking a fellow human in the eye and intentionally causing degragation and dehumanization. Racism is looking a fellow human in the eye and telling them implicitly or expressively that you believe that because of your race, you are superior and that the other person is beneath you.
3. It is time for those who understand racism (and discrimination) to begin to educate those who unintentionally offend. Let me explain.
Yesterday, a classmate of mine (whom I adore) and I were discussing a case. He said, “you know the case. The one where the woman opened the outer door and got herself raped.” Did he mean to be offensive? No. Was he even aware of the offensiveness of his comment? No. I looked at him and said, “Excuse me? What do you mean got herself raped? No women gets herself raped!” Which did two things: (1) gave me an opportunity to point out the blame game that is placed on rape victims and thus the discrimination inherent, and (2) allowed for the opportunity to educate as to the offensiveness of the comment. No offense or discrimination was intended, but it happened in effect.
This kind of dialouge is NEEDED in todays society. We need to hold each other accountable, we need to educate each other, and we need to be able to do so out of kindness, compassionate and WITHOUT labeling each other. Labeling one a racist is extremely devisive in nature and does little to forward the cause.
I cannot imagine the daily struggle that people of different races, ethniticities, and certain social and class status face. I had one brush with racism while visiting Memphis years ago. I walked into a Shoney’s and was the only white person in the restaurant. While not expressly refused service, I was ignored and not seated, while persons of color where seated who had walked in after me and served. No one would look me in the eyes and I began to get hostile looks. I was extremely uncomfortable and left when it became apparent that my presence was not wanted. It gave me a new found respect for the struggles facing some people everyday.
My point is that ignoring this problem, sweeping it under the rug, or in some cases inflating it all out of preportion, is dangerous. “The longer we listen to one another - with real attention - the more commonality we will find in all our lives. That is, if we are careful to exchange with one another life stories and not simply opinions.” - Barbara Deming; and
“The ultimate measure of a person is not where one stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy.”-- Martin Luther King, Jr. No more apt words have ever been uttered in regards to how to solve the problem Listen, exchange (not accusations, but experiences), and stand in the times of challenge and controversy. These are things are nation has failed to do, and I am sorry to say, the faculty of my school have failed to do. The solution is simple: frank, head on conversation. No accusations, no labeling, no pointing fingers.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Law school and children....

....have a hard time mixing. Maybe the fact that I have been at school for five years straight, but whatever the reason, my child is turning very resentful. I will not lie, the student is not the only one to sacrafice in order for someone to attend law school. Inevitably the child of a law student does as well.

1. Time is at a premuim. What do I mean by this? While I spend quality time with my child, we do not get as much reading time, fun time, time away as I would like. My child often hears, "not right now sweetie, mommy is reading." Children do not understand this sentence and sooner or later become very angry with it.

2. Play dates are rare. I have tried really hard to allow my child to have play dates with her friends, but it has not been as great as I would like. I live out in the country, so it is not like she can just run outside and play with her friends. It does not work this way. I have to plan for this and honestly, I don't have that much time.

3. Money is tight. And my daughter attends a school in an afluent neighborhood. Sometimes she doesn't have the clothes/things that other kids at her school do. That rankles with her. I realize this is superficial, but honestly, it's hard to explain this to a child.

4. Focus is slim. My brain is worn out at the end of the day and it is all I have in me to remember getting my own things together, let alone a childs. This means forgotten assignments, notes home, and so on. I hate it. I wish I could find a more efficient system, but so far, nada.

5. No permenant home. I am living with my parents because of budget issues, but also so that they can help me with my daughter. However, my child really craves the normal neighborhood experience with the bicycles, friends and pets. I feel terribly guilty about this, but there is not much I can really do about it.

There are many more things that are incompatible. But there are pluses too. My daughter is learning the value of education, first hand. I am also modeling to her what a strong, intelligent woman is. Charactoristics I hope and pray my daughter has someday. So there are tradeoffs.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Appellate Grief (Oh I mean brief).

The dreaded experience of the first year student is the appellate brief. The first semester the legal research and writing class drills into you the importance of writing neutral style. This semester, the student is taught how to write persuasively. But it's not like any persuasive I have ever written.

The appellate brief is a time intensive experience. Lots of research, lots of stomach aches, and little sleep=stressed out student. And all for a class that shells out only 2 credits and credit/no credit. (this is the grief part),

Part of the appellate process include a mandatory requirement to argue the brief where you are judged. The oral argument follows like an experience at the Supreme Court where the court will "pepper" you with questions, one after the other. The student is judged on how well s/he keeps composure, transitions, and deals with the judges.

The whole process gives a whole new meaning to the words "over stretched." 2L's, 3L's, and the Professors assure us that we will come out the other side alive and enthused. Right now I would be happy to just feel like I got some sleep:)

Monday, February 25, 2008

The moral dilemma of law school

Coming to law school, I heard so many conflicting advice. Some seemed reasonable, other advice seemed downright silly. One thing that I heard over and over was that the first year of law school creates a sense of having your beliefs torn apart. I totally concur in that analysis.

Reading as many cases as you do the first year, you note right away that the law is not always fair. Many times the decisions within the cases come smack against what your gut is telling you is wrong. And morally it is. The biggest struggle for me is that moral does not always equal legal.

Professors are at you all the time. And when you make a comment, you better be able to back it up with an intelligent analysis. Morality is not a good answer.

Here's a true story of legal vs. moral: A man lures a 7 year girl away from her father, into a bathroom at a casino in Las Vegas. The man proceeds to rape and kill her, leaving her in the bathroom stall. The worst was that his buddy watched over the wall of the next stall and did nothing. The police could not arrest him because he had not legal duty to stop his friend. And because he was not an active participant, he could not be charged with accompliace or conspiracy.

As a parent, you hear this story and feel outraged and disgusted. In the deepest part of your gut, it is beyond "icky," it is just plain morally disgusting. But legally, the man who stood by and watched a little girl raped in her last moments of life, and killed--he is innocent.

Swallowing this is a bitter pill. The student feels disillusioned because we are taught from the time we are little that the law is "just" and "fair."

I am still grappling with the identity crisis I suffered because of this horrible shock. It sounds dramatic, but is true. When a student, or lawyer, tells you that your soul will be challenged and your beliefs threated, take heed to the warning and be prepared.

I have no tips on how to deal with it. I tell myself that I am going to be a prosecutor, a "good guy" and I can live and believe in the law as it exists. I am still excited for my future, but more cynical.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Book Review: "The Nine" by Jeffery Toobin

Last week one of my professors recommended "The Nine" to our class. I was looking for something I could read, non-fiction, that I could get into, and so I purchased it.

If you are thinking about attending law school (or if you are currently a student), I HIGHLY recommend this book. I wish I would have read this prior to coming to law school. The book gives the reader a behind the scenes look at the Justices on the Supreme Court, their ideology, and their personal beliefs and lives. The author also details many of the Surpreme Court cases that I have read this year, and explains how deals were brokered behind the scenes.

Society often sees these men (and woman) as above the rest of us in some cloistered lifestyle. Yes, they are cloistered, but they are not immune from the very struggles that we the people (the ordinary ones) face. They carry the same dreams, the same fears, and face the same struggles like Cancer, Alzheimer's, bigotry, and paternalism.

The book also chronicles power brokers, lobbyests, and influential legal minds and how they have shaped decisions within the last 25-30 years of history.

Beware that if you are a conservative, that there are times that it may outright offend you. The author clearly has a political ideology agenda and is particularlly vicious and unflattering of the right. The book was written with an obvious bias, but that does not diminish the importance of the work.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Importance of a Nice Suit

For the first time in my life, I bought a suit. Being a poor law student with impeccable taste, this was a trying thing for me. I am also petite in stature, which makes it really hard to find something. I searched through piles and then hit pay dirt at Macy's. Since it was the end of the season, I was able to get a really nice suit that regularly sells for $320.00, for 59.99--Yeah me!

Now, I have always thought that women lose some femine looks in a suit. But not so. Suits are investments. Don't be afraid to pay the $$$ for one because when it is made well, it hangs well on the body and defines your curves.

Suits carry a certain amount of respect. I am slightly addicted to shopping. I don't have to buy things, I just like to wander and look and wish. Usually I do it in a pair of jeans and hoodie. Today, after my interview, I needed to pick up some MAC, so off I went to the mall in my suit. I was surrounded by sales people whereever I went. Suit=the look of money. Also, a good suit gives a woman a certain amount of confidence. This confidence actually boosts her femininity. And this draws additional attention to herself.

One important tip that Mom might not have shared with you: Always, and I mean ALWAYS, when trying on your suit, sit in it. Sounds funny, but this is actually very important. Why? Simple, you want to know if the waistband will cut into you. And you want to know if the suit jacket or pants bunch unattractively.

Anyway, I love my suit so much, I purchased another one! Darn, I look good. (Although, my daughter says I look "boring." I had to explain I look lawyerly!)

Interviewing as a 1L

Yesterday and today, I interviewed for law clerk positions. The first was with the Marion County DA's office. The second interview was with the Department of Justice.

The process was interesting for me. I have not interviewed for 12 years. Prior to today, I have always been on the other side of the desk, asking the questions. Being in the hotseat again after so many years was, oddly enough, fun.

Now, as to the interviews: they were undoubtedly the most strange interviews EVER.

For the DA's office---No questions about my grades at all. Random questions like: "Have you ever been arrested?" I said no. They replied, "If you were to be arrested, what would it be for?" HUH?!?!?!?! Did I miss something? More seemingly random questions followed.

One thing having lived life prior to law school, nothing that was thrown at me intimidated me. I was calm, confident, and poised. Although, I left confused. Late last night it dawned on me the reason for the random questions. To make it to law school, you have to be intelligent. To place in the top 20%, you have to be smart and dedicated. The DA's office was looking specifically at my personality and whether or not I would mesh with the other lawyers, and potential law clerks in the office.

Next interview was with the DOJ. Here I made a crucial mistake. I was interviewing with two different departments. I answered why I would make a good fit with one department, and the person interviewing with the other department ruled me out because I sold myself really well to the first one.

I was interviewed by three people, all whom were very nice. But interestingly enough, I answered 4 questions total and they did most of the talking.

And then I committed the interview no-no. I was asked a question. The only way I could truthfully answer the question was to admit that I am a single parent. Something you are told never to do in an interview. The problem is that it is important that while interviewing YOU BE YOURSELF. And part of that was to explain who I am and how I got to where I am. My daughter is a large part of this.

They were gracious and actually made me feel good. They commended my accomplishments and congradulated me for meeting my goals.

Anyway, it was interesting all around............But very different from how I imagined.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Politics coming out of Wisconsin and Hawaii

Okay, second lesson about law school, most of us (admittedly not all) care about politics. What I talk about here, is what a good portion of us are discussing at school. But admittedly, I care about what is going on, I am writing about this, and therefore you are stuck reading it:)

McCain=we know he is the nominee, it's just a simple formalization at this point (or a deal with Huckabee), so that's all I am going to say.

Obama and Clinton. Much better story here. We have several interesting developments. First, Obama made inroads into white voters and union members. He needed this crossover to win Ohio. Things are looking up for him. AND he won by 17% points. A sound thumping.

Now, Obama as the front runner now needs to watch every word and guard every single action CAREFULLY. The first critical blunder happaned yesterday with his wife. The pundits are yapping and yelling and the Clinton camp is salaviting at this one. What do I mean. Mrs. Obama made a statement that for the first time in her adult life she was proud of America. Pundits say, "Hey, the lady is 45 and so many great things that have happaned in her 45 years: the Berlin wall coming down, great inroads into racial equality", so on so forth. And Clinton is clapping her hands, rubbing them together in glee, and spinning it for all it's worth.

I honestly think that Mrs. Obama made the mistake that any woman who was not a professional speaker and who is not used to having the spotlight turned on her would do: she spoke candidly about the fact that she is so proud of her husband and that America is turning out to vote like it has not done in years. I don't think Mrs. Obama was slighting any of the great things that have been accomplished in America. Give her the benefit of the doubt and ease up all you cynical people.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lessons learned my first semester.....

Since I started this late (meaning in my second semester), I thought I would give a brief recap of the struggles I had of balancing everything my first semester.

1. Never procrastinate.
Seriously. Inevitably what will happan is that you put off a paper thinking you can do it at the last minute and your child gets sick. This is the pits. I have learned to work on projects at a steady clip and to be prepared to be done with it a couple of days early. Am I ever early? No. Why? Because put simply, something with my daughter always comes up. Always. So my tip here is plan well, plan often, and always work ahead.

2. You can take your child with you.
I did take my daughter with me to class one day when she had not school and my back up daycare failed. Admittedly, I okayed it with my professors. And I would not recommend it for younger children with no attention span. But bringing my daughter gave her an insight into what mommy does with her time. She was very entertained as well. Don't be shy about asking if you are in a tight spot. Most professors understand that things happan.

3. Treat this as a job.
This means clock in at 8:00 and don't leave early. Take advantage of the time your child is in daycare by studying or working on papers. This is your most valueable time. In other words, don't cut budget corners by not getting daycare--very unwise. Yes, in the long run it will cost you more money, but it will save you peace of mind.

4. Don't cut your childs extracurricular activities.
What do I mean? My daughter is a very gifted dancer. She attends classes at a studio three nights a week. At first I did not see how I would accomplish this. But soon I found this time was good for her, and great study time for me. You can form carpools with other moms, or you can find a good coffee shop near by in which to study at. OR I bought an Ipod that goes everywhere with me. I filled a playlist with music in Italian & classical so I don't sing along. I play this in the dance studio and study. It blocks out the sound and soothes me at the same time. Great thing about extracurricular activities is you study, child is entertained, and when it is over, you have time to play or talk with your child without snapping his/her head off because you are studying.

5. Be upfront at the beginning.
I either email or talk in person with each of my professors at the beginning of each semester. I tell them that my phone will be on vibrate and that there may be times I have to leave during class because I am the sole provider for my daughter. Each professor has been understanding.

6. 8 o'clock a.m. classes are a pain.
Yep, they are. You don't want to walk in late and have everyone starring at you. Every 8 am class for me is a day when my daughter wakes up cranky and with an attitude. Expect it.

7. Build a village.
What do I mean? Mrs. Clinton once said that it takes a village to raise a child. She had a point to an extent. It takes a village to help you with your child while you are in law school. I was fortunate in thinking about this prior to coming to school. I have built a strong network of people I trust, who love my child, and whom I can call anytime I need to study or when something unexpected comes up. A good source for me was church. But if you are not a church-goer, that's okay. There are places like the YWCA or the library that will put you in the path of some really nice people whom you can start building relationships with. Also, don't be ashamed to share with your childs classmates parents. Many will agree to trading "babysitting" duties and playdates that free-up time for you. Work whatever networking you can in this area. I guarantee you that at some point it will be critical to have in place.

8. Consider staying local.
I will be honest. I could have gone to an east coast school with a better tier rating than where I am going now. But, a legal education is what you make of it. And unless you want to work for a top 100 large firm, local law schools are fine. If you stay local, your family is close to help out. And in addition, you will not have to deal with uprooting your child and dealing with the fall-out of this during your first year of law school. The first year is brutal enough without having to deal with emotional problems and insecurity with your child. Remember that you will have less time to spend with him/her than you may want. And removing them from what they know and where they are comfortable could make for a very angry child.