Monday, December 28, 2009

U of Oregon--Rose Bowl

I have often wondered why University of Oregon's mascot strangely resembles Donald Duck.  Since going to lawschool, I knew there had to be some kind of licensing that happened, otherwise it would clearly infringe on intellectual property rights.  So, I decided to look it up.

The Duck is officially known as "Puddles."  But sometime in the forties, the look of the duck began to resemble that of Mickey's playmate, Donald Duck.  Walt Disney became aware of this.  Leo Harris, long time friend of Walt Disney, made a hand shake deal with Mr. Disney for the licensing rights for the image of Donald, for Oregon's mascot.  In 1970, corporate Disney's legal department began making noise, only to find a photo of the infamous handshake and both Mr. Harris and Mr. Disney in U of O gear.  At that time, U of O entered into a licensing agreement formally which restricted the use of Donald's image.  You can only purchase U of O gear with the mascot printed on it, in the state of Oregon. Any other state is limited to the big yellow "O."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Break

My daughter is a dancer and I have spent the last 2 weeks taking her to dress rehearsals, recitals, more rehearsal's and company shows.  She has been dancing for five years now.  This season is always stressful because of the holidays in general, but then finals.  While I was doing this round, it occurred to me, this was it, the last Christmas season that I had to juggle school, work, finals, and dance..................what a relief.  I am so not kidding!  Above is a picture of her dance troupe.  Lovely ladies, I know.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Break

Seems I always neglect the blog during breaks.....not much to write about I guess.  Just working.  Really, the weirdest thing is that you long for break because there is nothing to do, but then when you have nothing to do, you are so bored.  What do you do with your time, or yourself?  Such a weird feeling.  And then you feel kind of frustrated that you don't even know what to do with yourself.  You are exhausted, so what you really need is to catch up on cleaning, but you don't want to do that because you are exhausted.  Vicious cycle.  I am not even sure if I make sense!  I go to work, come home and take a nap, wake up and watch a bit of tv and talk with my daughter, and then sleep again.  Probably will take until about Christmas before I feel really rested.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Schools out!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Turned in my last two papers on Monday.  Now the wait for grades which won't come until after the 1st of the year----YUCK.

Since I had papers, and no finals, I went back to work earlier than the other clerks.  You should have seen the lawyers eyes light up when they realized there was a clerk back........I was kept absolutely hopping busy.  Who-hoo.  And with interesting stuff to.  Lot of trial prep, and guess what?  Mom signed at the last hour before trial.  Typical.

I like the holiday spirit in my office.  Our office does a pie sale 2 days before Thanksgiving.  Everyone makes pies and then they are sold--we raised 1200 dollars this year.  Then, that 1200 is used to buy toys for foster kids and they are donated.  I LOVE THIS.  We not only free these kids up for legal adoption,, but we also do other things for them.  Things we are not paid to do, but that we do because we really care.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sometimes Research is Depressing

One of my paper topics is deals with the inherent racism involved in the formation of welfare policy and reform.  For the most part I am proud of my country, but there are times where I do research and I feel absolute shame.  Not necessarily for the decisions of my forefathers--though many decisions they made were deplorable, but what hits me the most is to realize that some things never change.

As far back as the early 1800's, this country was trying to figure out what to do with women and children who were abandoned by their husbands/fathers.  The political leaders, even back then, divided women in to classes:  the deserving poor and the undeserving poor.  Women and children were often exploited in sweat shops for low wages, in an attempt to provide shelter and food.

In the 1860's, during Reconstruction, legislators were concerned with what to do with black women and their children.  Slave owners forbid African American men and women from marrying, fearing insurrection if they allowed this.  Families were split, children sold off, and with the south freed, this was a huge problem for the south.  So legislatures, in their infinite wisdom, started declaring certain freed slaves to be "married" so as to not have to provide for the black women and her children.  Shameful.

I would like to say that it improved over time, but it did not.  100 years later, Democratic Senator Daniel Monhiyan publishes the Monhiyan Report which blames welfare on the black matriarch single women.  20 years after that, Reagan campaigns on the Welfare Queen, and the Media begins to picture black single mothers as the face of Welfare.  In 1994, Congress promotes welfare reform and attacks illegitmacy as the social ill that drives all other social ills, drugs, crime, illiteracy, and so on................

I'm ashamed of this in so many ways.  Maybe because to some extent in 1994, I bought into this myth to some extent, without knowing the ramifications or even the racial undertones that laced the debate.  I did not know the barriers, the issues that face the black single mother.  I identify with the stigma of being a single mother, but by virtue of the color of my skin [white] I would have been crowned deserving in the 1800's, and certainly not villified as a welfare queen schemer in the 1980's.

The tone of the welfare debate must change.  The politicians must begin to realize that if they are serious about welfare reform, that they have it backwards.  That education is the key to a hand up out of welfare.  This is not about "deserving" for every person deserves to thrive and survive in this country.  There is no magical thing that makes some one "less."  I wish there was a way to change the debate and the way people think about this subject.  I wish there was a way to open eyes to the fact that the history of this debate, and the continued lack of support for education is only leading to more poverty and more racial bias.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A few books all law students should read...

When I was at dinner with the Chief Justice the other night, he made a comment that there were books that all law students should read.  Some because you can learn things about trying cases, and others so that you will know what a trial is really like.  Got me to thinking because some of his book recommendations that I have read and really enjoyed and wondered how realistic they were.  So, I have made my own list.  Enjoy.

1L by Scott Turow:  I recommend this book for all people to read BEFORE the start law school, and even before they go to apply, if they can.  This is a realistic look at what the first year is really like in law school.  It's a bit dated, but you know, the principles in this book are still true and the tactics that people use still hold true as well.

The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly:  the Chief Justice recommended this one and I have read it.  This was a great book and gives a realistic view of what the criminal courts in LA County are like.  Trials especially..

The Conviction by Richard North Patterson:  Wow, very powerful book.  And very, very good, detailed, realistic look at what it is like to go through the appeals process for the death penalty.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham:  His first nonfiction book chronicles the real life story of a man wrongly convicted to death for the rape and murder of a young woman in Oklahoma.  I was lucky enough to see this man speak not long ago.  The Innocence Project was responsible for proving this man was innocent and overturning his conviction.

The Pact by Jodi Picoult:  So, great book [warning you will need kleenex]. It's not that this book is terribly accurate on what happens with trials, but the legal principles in here are spot on, from both the prosecution side and the defense angle.

The Nine by Jeffery Toobin:  A non-fiction book about the Nine Supreme Court Justices [before Alito and Sotomeyer].  Great insight, wonderful stories.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Who-hoo, My semester is over!

You got it folks---today was my last class of the semester!  Yay.

So, what was this second to the last semester like--not sure yet, I will let you know when I have finished my papers and had some rest.

Though I will tell you that it was nice hangin' with the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court and having dinner and a beer with him.  Great time of talking law and just getting to know him better.

Also, today's last class with Professor Wise was fun.....we had Salvadorean food and drinks---good times were had by all.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Can it be done?

I am seriously beginning to wonder if I can open my own practice up.  Can it be done?  Can I afford to do this?  Would it be wise?  Would it be legal malpractice? 

I know that I like the idea of being on my own time, being my own boss.  I hate the idea of the uncertainty.  Just something I am kicking around right now.

Next Semester's Courses

I am still awaiting final news of what I will be taking because of one class is still in the lottery phase, but so far, here is what I am taking:

Juvenile Law:  This class deals with dependency and termination of parental rights....should be up my alley.  Who-hoo.  Though I have never had the professor, so there is an unknown quality here.  No ratings in Rate My Professor . I am flying blind here.

Criminal Procedure II:  Follow up to the first course I took last year.  Taught by a new professor Davidson.  Heard she is tough, and a bit grumpy at times.  This course follows what happens from Jail to Bail.  She does get a smiley face on Rate My Professor.

Law and Education:  Another new professor....sheesh, way to go in my last semester.  This deals with the rights of children and parents in the education system.  Unknown quantity:)

First Amendment:  Taught by Professor Green.  Honestly, he was one of the reasons I went to my school was to take a class by him.  So, here I am, in my last semester take a class on a subject I love, learning from a master.

Sentencing Law and Reform........taught by my fave Professor Appleman.  So, I know there is a take home exam, no paper.  I know I love her as a professor and am glad that my last semester is spent in one of her classes.  And this is  a subject that has become an interest of mine over the last year or so.  So I will buckle up, hang on, and enjoy the ride!

Also taking a course on setting up your own solo practice.  Very excited about this one.  This class is being taught by an attorney here in town who has his own solo practice.  Should be good.

Oh, I almost forgot.  I am taking Intensive Trial Practice during the break---1 Week, 40 hours = hell, but a pass/fail class........Taught by Professor Tornquist, someone I have not had yet, but heard wonderful things about.

The End of the Semester....

I like to do a recap of my experiences from classes. I have no finals this semester, they are all paper courses, so I am going to do a recap now, prior to getting my grades, so you can have unbiased feedback without the tainting that a law school final can give!

Oregon Criminal Procedure:  The BEST class I have taken in my law school career.  Seriously.  Taught by the Supreme Court Chief Justice, who prior to his experience on the bench, was a top criminal defense attorney who defended on capital murder charges, this class was practical and gave wonderful insight into the process of defending, writing motions, and basic Oregon Constitutional law.   Some say it was alot of work....I laughed at that.  There is no final.  There is only a 2 page motion to write once a week.  Chief Justice makes it easy for you by telling you what to focus on.  Also, let's be frank, anytime you can get face time with someone so influential--take it.

Civil Rights Litigation:  Interesting and thought provoking class.  Taught by Professor Carrasco, the class really gets you thinking about topics that are involved in civil rights.  Prof. Carrasco is passionate about this subject, especially when it comes to the rights of undocumented workers.  He has an obvious left leaning political ideology, but he is willing to explore and listen to all sides of the argument.

Race and the Law:  Taught by Professor Appleman, who by the way is my favorite law school professor, this class was a frank exploration on the topic of racism in American and how the law has both historically, and today, tainted the law.  Honestly, this class felt more like a sociology course, but I really enjoyed it.  Killer paper though, and as this is my third year graduation requirement class-----whoo-ee, she is tough, but fair.

Sexuality and Discrimination:  I took this class as a gap filler.  I really saw nothing interesting I wanted to take so I filled this one in.....And honestly I am glad I did.  We studied not only gay rights, but pregnancy, and gender issues.  Taught by Professor Carrasco, the class was more of a survey course then a seminar.  The topic often a bit uncomfortable, but always eye opening.

Comparative Constitutionalism:  This class is an example of why sometimes you should not take a course just because you love the professor, which I did.  Professor Wise taught the course, which is the only thing that saved it.  Studying constitution's and their role in international countries makes for very dry, boring reading.  For me, the most rewarding was the paper I am writing on the country of Iran and women's rights.  Really opened my eyes to the oppression and subrogation women experience in other countries.

So, that's it........for this semester and courses.  I might let you all know how I did with scathing reviews of how fair paper grading went when I get my grades:) [which is never until January because they torture you].

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Job Hunt

The job hunt is a scary time.  To be very, very truthful, the chances are that you will not find a job before you graduate.  Unless you are a member of a top 10 school, then you might.  The truth is that you will interview and interview, but unless you are in the top 10%, and ready to sell your soul for a big time firm that will chain you to a desk and work you for 80 hours, you are going to have to scrap.

I have been flirting with the idea of opening a solo practice.  Barring that, maybe getting some other students together to open a small firm together.  Not sure.  What I do know, is that the stress of the unknown is a scary place to be.  Don't be naive, assuming a job will fall in your lap.  Work it.  And be willing to go out on a limb.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Moon Movie Experience

I want to encourage single parents to take time out every once in a while and do something with your kids that you would not normally do, even if it means you lose sleep or study time.  Last week, I decided to pre-order New Moon tickets for the midnight showing of the movie for my daughter.  I am so very glad I did this.  She had a blast!  And it will be something she remembers for a long time.

So, I don't want to spoil the movie, but here are a few observations---there were a few changes from the book, but nothing as to ruin the book.  I got a kick out of going to the midnight showing.  The excitement of several hundred teenage girls was palpable!  When Edward appeared for the first time the girls screamed.  When Jacob took his shirt off for the first time, the girls screamed louder.....LOL.  And when the movie ended---well mayham broke out.

What was great was the absolute joy it gave my daughter to not say "Oh, I don't have time."  OR "Oh, it's too late."  I believe she is going to remember this for a long time to come.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Top 10 Law Movies Every Law Student Should See

1.  Twelve Angry Men (1957). A look at the legal system through the eyes of the jury. This one has been remade, both using all men, and using all women. It's particularly interesting, because keeping the viewer's interest while using one set (the jury room) and one issue (the jury deliberation) is difficult.

2.  My Cousin Vinny (1992). The film deals with two young New Yorkers traveling through rural Alabama who are put on trial for a murder they did not commit, and the comedic attempts of a cousin, Vincent Gambini, a newly minted lawyer, to defend them.

3. Fracture (2007).  This moving deals with a rising star of a prosecutor, and a murder defendant going pro se.  The plot is good, if a bit fantastic, but the legal proceedings are done with a very keen eye.
4. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). Penned for the screen by Horton Foote, the movie was an instant classic, as lawyer Finch rises above the naked racism of Depression-era Alabama to defend a crippled black man (Brock Peters) falsely accused of rape by a lonely, young white woman.

5.  Philidephia (1993).  Tom Hanks won an Oscar as an Ivy-educated gay attorney who claims his big-time law firm fired him after discovering he contracted AIDS.

6.  Erin Brockovich (2000).  Lawyer line of the movie, she to him: “Do they teach lawyers to apologize? ’Cause you suck at it.”  Note the real Ms. Brockovich got her law degree and now practices.
7.   Kramer v. Kramer (1979).  An all-too-painful reminder of the human toll that is pos­sible when domestic relations litigation takes a nasty turn.
8.  The Paper Chase (1973).  The real drama, however, is the demanding milieu of Harvard Law School, where reputations can be made and broken in a single, grueling class.  (Yes, law school is REALLY like that, even if you don't go to Harvard).
9.  A Civil Action (1998).  Best lawyer line goes to Facher: “Pride has lost more cases than lousy evidence, idiot witnesses and a hanging judge all put together. There is absolutely no place in a courtroom for pride.”  This is a great illustration of what happens when you are a lawyer but a LOUSY business person.  So, take the warning and heed it well.
10.  THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE (1997) A new attorney introduced into the world’s most powerful law firm discovers that its managing partner is morally challenged.  Did you really think that Pacino would not make this list somewhere??????  Not because this is a great, realistic thing, but because it shows the ethical dilemmas you will face, and the inner warfare of losing who you are.
So, if you have some free time, check these out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hitting the "Wall"

Yes, even third year students hit the proverbial wall.  If you are not in law school yet, this wall is the moment when you cannot handle anything else in the semester.  Everything is overwhelming, everything seems too much of an uphill battle and quite frankly you would like to quit--school, job, whatever and run away to assume a new identity.

I have hit that point this semester. 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Open Letter to Veterans......

Dear Veteran:

Thank you for your service to this country.  Thank you to your families, your husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, maybe even grandchildren---for sharing you with this great country.  Thank you for being the peacekeepers, the peace makers, the guardian, the warrior, and the other titles that you wear, so that I enjoy the freedoms, rights, and privileges you help to safeguard.

I owe you an apology.  I am sorry for taking you for granted.  I am sorry that I don't tell you enough what your service means to me as an American. 

But know, that you are in my thoughts and prayers.  This great country is founded upon certain principles in which you swear to uphold and protect.  And you do so with honor, integrity and valor.

Thank you.  I can never truly express this heart of gratitude I hold for you. 

Yours truly,
Single Mom.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is wrong with people?

 often think that we are blessed to live in America.  And don't get me wrong, we are.  But we are not above the ugly human rights violations that plague the rest of the world.  Recently, my eyes were open to the fact that this country has a real problem with sex trafficking as it applies to women and children.  Check out some links to stories to see what I mean:

52 Children Saved from Prostitution
Teen stories of sex trafficking
Woman pimps kids on craiglist

Time to understand this is a REAL problem in the US.  Be educated.

DC Sniper Executed.

Not sure how I feel about this.  I have been flipping back and forth between whether I believe in the death penalty or not.  John Allen Muhammad seems to be the guy. Yet, he died still claiming he was innocent.  No final last minute confession to ease his soul--just defiance that they got the wrong man.

Then I am troubled by other factors......1) His execution was five years from date of conviction.  From what I have studied, I do not know how he could have made it through all the appeals processes in 5 years, when Virginia has other prisoners sentenced to death dating back to 1997.  Why the rush on this guy?  2) Did the media taint Mr. Muhammad?  Did he get a fair trial because of that?  Remember the terror of living in that area?  I didn't live there, but I have close friends that live 2 miles from one of the rest stops where someone was shot to death.  Did the states rush to find someone in order to stop the terror that was going on at the time?  Then again, the shooting stopped once Muhammad was caught, so if it were someone else, likely the shootings would have continued.

I guess my problem with the death penalty in general is this:  how can we be certain?  In the age of instant media, where the media calls out "facts" real-time without verification, how can we be sure?  In post 9/11, terror being rained on by people traveling the beltway, how can we be sure?  Whenever we deal with taking another's life, how can we be sure?  We are not God, we cannot see, we are not omnipotent, all knowing. 

Just the other day, I was reading about a man in Maryland convicted of murder and rape.  He sat in prison for years, before DNA evidence cleared him of the crime.  What about the story of Ron Williamson, the true story that John Grisham wrote about in his non-fiction book An Innocent Man? These thoughts scare me. I would rather error on the side of caution, than execute an innocent man.

But the flip side of me, who hears about people who confess to horrible crimes, wants to see them gone.

Keep on keeping.....

I have made a decision today....I am going to keep on going when I graduate.  I am going to give my followers a blow-by-blow of studying for the bar, job hunting, and the first year on the job.  I feel like there are so many unanswered questions for me still. The comments and encouragement I get and the "thanks" for taking the time are a blessing.  But more so, I want to help that single parent know as much about the process as I can.  So, this won't be my last guys are all stuck with me for awhile.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Juvenile's sentenced to life in prison

Recently I did an assignment for my Civil Rights class on two cases that the US Supreme Court is taking up in November.  The cases are Graham v. Florida and Sullivan v. Florida.  Both cases involve 13 year old boys that were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for non-homicide crimes.

Why does this country allow such a thing to take place.  We are talking about children here.  Mr. Sullivan is now 27, and has been abused so badly in prison, that he is in a wheelchair and will be for the rest of his life.  In addition, he was tried as an adult at 13, and sent to an adult prison at 14. 

What is it about this nation that is willing to write off a 13 year old?  What if I were to tell you that there are only 9 13 year olds serving this sentence in the world?  All of them in the United States?  Or that 8 of the 9 juveniles are black?  Because that is the truth.  What purpose does this sentence serve?  When did we decide that a 13 year old can even comprehend what the crime was they committed and should be punished, rather than rehabilitated through other methods?

I don't like this.  As a mother, I abhor this thought.  I think it reflects horribly on our society.  And I will be watching the Supreme Court closely to see what they do.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lawyer Advertising

 One of things covered second year is professional responsibility.  In other words, ethics.  One thing that is apparent is that lawyers are not that respected in society.  And some lawyers do not help this.  Describing one as a "pit bull" does not help with this stereotype.  Take a look around You Tube at the commercials for lawyers---terrible.  It is that idiocy that leads and perpetuates the reputation that lawyers have earned. 

Some would look at this attached commercial and think, cute, original, harmless.  I look at it and see comparing a highly skilled attorney to a dog that is known to kill and to go for the kill.  Lawyering, good lawyering, involves skill and diplomacy, not animalistic kill instincts.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I have been remiss in that I have not mentioned that this month is domestic violence awareness month.  This cause is near and dear to my heart for many reasons, but the top one being that I am a survivor of domestic abuse.  I was married to a man that abused me.

I experienced the charm, the isolation, the verbal tearing down, and the physical abuse that follows this.  Sometimes I look back at that young woman of yesteryear and I do not recognize her anymore, yet she is very much in the make up of my DNA.  This is the part of me that makes me passionate as an advocate. This is the part of me that fights for the child, who wants to prosecute those who use their hands for hurting, this is the part of me that recognizes that women who live in this hell, can rise up and conquer that which hunts them.

Someday, I hope to do something in the legislature that strengthens sentencing for abusers.  Right now, a first offense, if prosecuted, is 5-10 days in the pokie and batterer's intervention.  But the women who live this life, these women know that this is not enough and there is no incentive to report anything.  He will be out, and he will hunt again.  This is about power and control.  And an abuser never really gives that up.  Not even years later.  He will dig, and do what he can to undermine and control.

1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives at the hand of an intimate partner.  1 in 7 men will experience the same.  Our country needs to be educated to know longer blame the victim.  She does not choose to be beaten.  And neither can she simply choose to leave.  If it were that easy, she would have done so long ago.

This is a clip to a video by John Michael Montgomery.  The song came out before I experienced abuse, but I remember how it made an impression.  I still cry when I hear it.  But for the grace of God......

Another Milestone

I can't believe that another law school milestone has passed today.  I had my picture taken for the law school hall of fame.  I will not be there forever, even after I die, for all to look at and wonder.  So, when you are a baby, your parents take tons of embarrassing pictures and display them everywhere--doesn't matter, they are all cute.  But then you get older, and you have to pick one picture out of 20 terrible ones, and then you have to pay for it so that it is immortalized forever.  YAY.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Comedy Time and Laughs

I have seen some cats do some funny things in my time.  But this is one of the funniest!!!!  I needed a laugh today, and this gave it to me.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Welfare Queen

I am taking a class called Race and Racism.  I have found this class to be very interesting because it exposes the roots of racism in our country.  Little things that we don't think about, stereotypes we have been spoonfed without even realizing.  To pass this class I have to write a paper.  I chose my topic.  While I was in undergrad I wrote a thesis called The Paradox.  I took a sharp look the 1996 Welfare Reform Act as it applied to victims of Domestic Violence.

For my topic in this class, I am looking at the same act, but how the work first attitude affects the single mother and how the title that Regan coined the Welfare Queen actually is a stereotype spoonfed to us, that has led to a perpetuating the cycle of poverty, especially in African-American single mothers.  The truth is that Welfare Reform needed to be done, but our country has gone about it the wrong way.  Everyone knows that education is the key to overcoming and surviving poverty.  But instead, our country pushes women with low skills and little education into low paying jobs.  These jobs cannot support their children, or their needs.  And what is alarming is that most single mothers that are African American do not ever receive any child support.  The cycle continues.  Wouldn't it be better to build strong families through education?  Giving the mothers skills to survive and thrive and in the process, passing down the message to their children that education is important so stay in school and do well?  But no, instead we say, you are able bodied, so go out an work that minimum wage job---forget if you have to pay 1000 dollars in childcare, rent, food, and living expenses.  Too bad if you become homeless.   Too bad if you max out on welfare and your kids can't eat tonight.  Too bad, you made the choice to have them, you got to live with it.  Seems sanctimonious to me.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What to do?

When you start law school, all the administrators and professors say to you, "If you think you know what kind of law you want to practice, you are wrong.  You will change your mind."

I came to law school to be a prosecutor.  My desire to do so has not diminished at all.  What has happened, is that I have realized that you have to leave your options open.  That dream job may not be open for you when you graduate.  So, you have to decide what you would be comfortable practicing.  For me, I know business law would stifle me and kill me with boredom. 

Working where I do has taught me that I want to prosecute, but I could easily do defense too.  This is, what I believe, a good attorney can do.  S/he will be comfortable on either side of the table, willing to deal, willing to enforce the constitution.

I say this to everyone so that you know, that yes, you could change your mind.  But you might end up being like me and knowing that criminal law is what I want to do and it has not gone away, it has just broadened to a new understanding.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Introducing Dear Daughters Blog

Look to the right and you will find a link to my dear daughter's blog.  She is going to be writing about what it is like to be a child of a law school student!  I expect there will be other things that she will put on there that is on her mind.  Enjoy!

Can't Believe My Eyes

This was one lucky baby, and one lucky Baby's Mother.  I can't believe that the mother would not make sure the tires were locked.

Friday, October 16, 2009

H1N1 Paranoia

The law school Dean sent a message out:  while attendance will still be taken, sanctions will not apply.  Willamette has an attendance policy--you must attend 75% of your classes, or you do not get to sit for the exam, which means you do not pass the class.  But because of the H1N1 scare, the school is actively encouraging students to stay at home at the first sign of any sickness---and you will still be able to sit for exams.

At work, the state office has passed out a box of Kleenex and antibacterial Purrell for every office.  Then came the email that said to use the hand sanitizer frequently as to avoid the spread illness.

I have never seen anything like this in all my years.  Do you think it is warranted?

What's on your mind?

I want to be able to answer my readers questions.  I know you are out there, I hear from you!  So, please, if there are any suggestions you have, any questions, anything you want to know about making this journey we call law school----ask me. 

I feel so blessed to be on this road and I want to pay it forward.  The most valuable tool you have, is the wisdom of those who have walked the path before you.......

TIP: Public Assistance

Before starting law school, I use to scorn public assistance.  But let's be frank, law school is an expensive endeavor.  No financial aid office is going to tell you this, and neither will admissions, but as a single parent, you will qualify for food stamps, and possibly other assistance. 

When the compute how much in food stamps you get, they will ask for income.  The thing is that they cannot count student loans in with your income.  Nor scholarships, only Pell Grants.  And if you have done any research on financial aid, you will know that there are no Pell Grants for graduate degrees.

So, if you are like me you balk at food stamps and pride may get in the way.  But, remember that you have paid into the system, and once you are an attorney you WILL pay into the system big time.  So, use it now, when it could really make a difference.  For my budget, it really did make a HUGE difference.  Plus, if you receive food stamps, your child is eligible for free lunches at school once you apply.

Don't let your pride get you.  Get the help you need so that you can get through school.  

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Great Time Tonight

One thing I would encourage any law student to do is to take advantage of free memberships that your Career Services department might sponsor.  I wrote awhile back that I was being sponsored through my school for the American Inn of Courts.  I had another meeting tonight and I would say that this networking opportunity is invaluable.  You will meet lawyers, professors, and judges.  Tonight, I sat next to a Circuit Court Judge that someday I will appear before.  Over the next year, I will have lots of opportunities for face time with people who I will work with in the years to come.  I had a great time getting to know the people I will work with in the future.

Funny enough, I had emailed an attorney for work today.  Tonight, our school introduced each of us.  After dinner, this attorney I had emailed came over and introduced himself.  Was very interesting to meet opposing counsel outside of the adversary situation across a courtroom from each other.

My point being.....take advantage of all memberships that will give you networking opportunities, especially if you plan on practicing in the area.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Big Day

Today felt like another huge step in my journey to become an attorney.  I turned in my first application for a position as an attorney.  Obviously, any job I was offered would be contingent on passing the bar, but this was the first step in what I think will be many.

As part of the process, I had to get two written recommendations from lawyers I work with.  The nice things that were said about me, had me wanting to blush or cry, I am not sure which.  One described me as professional and fearless in court.  WOW, not bad for a law student.  The other said that I conducted myself in court with a composure that he has not seen in many attorney's who have been practicing for years.  I consider these things to be the best part of all of law school, to have people I admire think such nice things.

Beyond that, it brings the end of school to be that much closer---and scarier.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tell Me What You Think

I have messed with the template and format of the blog. I wanted to jazz things up a bit and am having fun bringing a bit of splash to the page.  If you saw the bubble gum pink I had before---then take a second and let me know what you think of this new template.

OMG! Time has flown

Seemed a simple thing today....I went and checked my mailbox at work. Inside that box was the 2010-2011 calendars. As I sat and looked at it, I realized something that nearly gave me a panic attack. I AM SEVEN MONTHS AWAY FROM GRADUATION. Where did the time go exactly? Somehow it seems to have gone fast, but slow....and now it is going faster. Does this make any sense.

The goal is in sight. The sacrifices are starting to feel a bit on the severe side, but worth it. My daughter and I are on our way to security--assuming I find a job:) Which brings me to the next part--looking for a job in my new career is right around the corner.

I did not start my undergraduate experience until I was in my late 20's. I thought then it would take forever to get here today. And strangely enough, here I am a short few months away. People said it would fly. And last year, I kept hearing, "Your third year flies by so fast." Both were true although I kept thinking that these people were just trying to give me a ray of hope. But it was really a piece of the truth.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Obama Promise Tracker

Much is being made about the promises that Obama made while campaigning and whether he has kept these promises. I find this a very interesting discussion. This last campaign season seemed to be so full of promises from both sides--some fantastic promises that I knew would not be kept.

Like, closing Guantanamo. I knew that one would not happen, primarily because what would we do with these people? Now the stakes are heating up again. Obama winning a Noble Peace prize has made many wonder what has he done---other than to make promises? Then we hear that he won because of the promise that he brings to the world? Huh? Really?

I am still sitting back observing. Mainly because I think that 10 months into a new administration is too early to judge. But, to me, nothing looks to promising. Right now the democrats have the power, 60 Senate seats, control of the house, and the Presidency, but nothing is happening. This seems weird to me.

Some promises are promises I cannot believe a former law school professor made. Obama KNOWS about the three branches of government. He knows that he cannot make law, he can only sign a bill into law. So how could he promise a rescinding of DOMA, that's for the congress to do. How can he promise the gay and lesbian community laws that would give them status as a suspect class? That is what Congress must do! How can he promise health care? Again, that's what Congress does. How could he promise the rescinding of Don't Ask, Don't Tell--oh wait, he could but he has not!

I remember being promised hope and CHANGE. So far I see no change. I see a bunch of blowhards doing nothing but fighting about semantics while the rest of the real country suffers. So, I am still waiting, watching, and hoping, but to be truthful, each day that passes dims the hope.

If you want to check out what promises Obama has kept, broken, or done nothing about, here you go: Politifact

Friday, October 9, 2009

Movie Review: The Boys are Back

Last night, I had the opportunity to go to a screening of the film, The Boys Are Back [it's a Miramax film]. Clive Owen plays Joe Warr, a grieving widow who is struggling to raise his young son Artie. Joe institutes this "Just Say Yes" philosophy of single parenting, I think to ease his young sons grief at losing his mother. To add to the mix, Harry, a teenage son Joe left behind 8 years before in England, decides that he wants to spend time with his father. What follows is a poignant journey of a family trying to find their way through the grief that each of them is suffering for life's losses.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I cried, I laughed hysterically at times, and I identified completely with Joe on several occasions as I watched his attempts at being a single parent. In the end, Joe finds that while single parenthood is an inadequate parental unit for raising kids, that he likes it. That he is happy and fulfilled. That sometimes he is lonely, but that life is really good.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pulled in many directions

Single parents wear a ton of different hats. We are the chauffer, the parent, the counselor, the cheerleader, the cook, the dry cleaner, the nurse, the teddy bear, the safety blanket--and many others.

I feel pulled in so many directions sometimes. Between student, employee, and mother--I start wondering what about me? I am finding it very difficult to continue to balance all the hats on the rack without something falling off. I am starting to fear that that "something" is going to be a little bit of myself.

I carve out time for me, I do. I try to take care of the body, mind, and soul. But these days I can feel the stress just building, and building.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I recently went to a social function with attorney's and judges present. When I got there, I realized I knew of, or had met quite a few of these people through my job, or just living in this town for so long. I sat at a table with defense attorney's and judges that I have worked with this past year.

Somehow, the conversation turned to the topic of my boss. Some nasty things were said about her, in front of me. Now, I don't know if this was deliberate, or they forgot I was sitting there. But I was so very uncomfortable. I sat starring down at my salad, wishing I was anywhere but there.

Most disappointing was hearing what the judge had to say about her. This is the person who is supposed to be unbias!!! Which made me wonder if perhaps, there is some favoritism being spread around. I don't know if this is the case, but it was disappointing to hear people that you respect, behave in such ways.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Paper Topics

This semester, it is all about writing papers. I have to come up with four different topics for four different classes.

I am still trying to decide what I will write about in each of the classes, but I have nailed one down. I am going to write for my Comparative Constitutionalism class a paper about equal rights for women in Iran.

A curious thing about the Iranian constitution is that it guarentees equal rights to both men and women, with a caveat. That caveat is "according to Islamic law." Iran is a nation which has a state religion, but goes one step further. In Iran, the citizens are bound by Islamic law, which acts as legislation in itself. So that poses the question of whether there could ever be equality under the law afforded to women?

As I delve into the topic more, I will post updates.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

American Inn of Courts

I recently was accepted to be sponsered by the law school to join the Willamette Chapter of the American Inn of Courts. This is an organization comprised of judges, attorney's, law professors, and sometimes law students. The focus is on practice and ethics. The point is to work on being a better advocate.

What drew me to this organization was the focus in it's mission statement to provide new lawyers with a mentor who can help them as they begin their practice. As I continue to focus on life out of law school, and the beginning of my professional career, thinking about building professional contacts becomes more important.

I would hope that when I enter the legal field as an attorney, not just a student, that my name would be associated with ethics and integrity. I have the opportunity to interact with judges and defense attorney's as well as attorney's in my office. This organization will continue to build my contacts and reputation within the community.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thoughts on the death penalty

I have always been pro-death penalty. For my civil rights class yesterday, we were required to listen to a man named Bill Long talked about the Death Penalty. Now, to understand, he is anti-death penalty. For awhile, I listened to him and was like, okay nothing new there. Not to say he was not impressive, he was. Former Presbytirian pastor, former law professor, and current author, those credentials are good ones. But what really got me thinking was when he read the jury instructions from statute to sentence someone to death in the state of Oregon.

ORS 163.150 states: At the conclusion of the presentation of the evidence, the court shall submit the following issues to the jury:

(A) Whether the conduct of the defendant that caused the death of the deceased was committed deliberately and with the reasonable expectation that death of the deceased or another would result;

(B) Whether there is a probability that the defendant would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society;

(C) If raised by the evidence, whether the conduct of the defendant in killing the deceased was unreasonable in response to the provocation, if any, by the deceased; and

(D) Whether the defendant should receive a death sentence.

I want to focus on (B) as he did. Immediately when he read it I thought, probable that the defendant would commit criminal acts of violence........Probably is 51% or better. So in law terms, the burden to sentence a man to death is less than to convict him of murder. And (2), it is based on speculation.

No one thinks that this person would be released to society. So where is the danger to society? Where is his threat? To prison society? Why would we be concerned with that?

What about the speculative nature of the question? How can anyone predict future wrongs or crimes? We can't. As a prosecutor it is very, very hard to get prior bad acts admitted in a trial---often times they are barred from the jury. But when a life is on the line, the jury can speculate what a caged human will do to society that could be harmful. Not beyond a reasonable doubt.......but more probable than not.

I have issues with this instruction. I don't like the underlying inference, that a person's life, or death, can be decided on speculative issues that may never arise. That a person's life can be based on a probablity, rather than a certainty.

I am not excusing what the person did, ie murdered someone, but rather, I am wondering where the dignity and fairness is.

I will never forget....thoughts on 9/11

I still remember that day as if it just happened. I can tell you where I was standing [in front of my mirror blowing drying my hair, watching the news in the reflection of the mirror].

I remember hearing Charlie Gibson saying that a plane had hit the tower.

I remember seeing the second one hit and I remember dropping on the side of my bed in disbelief.

I remember heading to work, not knowing how many other attacks would happen that day. I remember fear for those that I loved who lived in NYC and DC areas. I remember sitting on pins and needles for word of their safety.

I remember when news hit about the Pentagon, and then the plane crashing in PA.

I remember the phone did not ring at work all day. I remember we watched Peter Jennings, as we searched for reasons or explanations why someone would do such a thing.

I remember the cloud, the smoke, the visions of confusion. I remember grown newscasters crying. Shock.

I remember the look on the President's face as he was notified in front of school children he was reading to.

I remember wishing that there was something I could do to help. I remember feeling helpless.

I remember praying.

I remember the days that followed. The lines of family looking for their lost family members. I remember the President addressing the nation, Congress singing God Bless American on the steps of the Congressional Building, and the sense that what was meant for evil would bond the country together.

I remember the strength of our leaders, the grief and loss on the face of Mayor Guiliani, and the loss of NYC's first responders and the funeral's that followed. I remember the courage of those responders, and the courage of those on the plane who attempted to take it back with the infamous words, "let's roll."

I remember clutching my daughter a bit tighter, hugging my family, and being grateful for what I had and thinking that it could all be lost in a blink of an eye, for no apparent reason.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

One step closer to graduation

Yesterday, I had a degree audit with the registrar. Basically it is a time to sit down and figure out how many credit hours I have, and how many I need to graduate. This appointment seemed like a monumental step to me for some reason. Certainly, I feel as if I am close and it is real---that is graduation day.

She even talked to me about how to petition for the bar, what graduation day will be like, what to expect and so on. This journey has seemed to take so long, yet fly by. Everything feels surreal.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Hidden Truth: Brutalness and Hidden Signs

Law school breeds competitiveness. This is a simple fact. There are hidden clues to how the institution encourages this all around a law school. To the outside observer that does not know the inner workings, one might not notice the subtlety employed. But in my final year, this point is being driven home to me.

Willamette imposes a mandatory curve. This in the bottom percentage of the class are dropped. Actually, I believe the term is that the administration tells them, "they are not invited back." This happens after the first semester grades are released.

Of course, the first day back, the student is curious of who went. Everyone is buzzing around asking, "Did so and so return?" You hear some, "I knew he/she was stupid. Did you hear the comments he/she made in crim?"

For me I learned early on that the surest way to find out who was no longer with us was by the mailboxes. We are all issued a box, it is basically wooden slats that resemble inboxes. All classes are grouped together. And then next to the boxes is a list with everyones name and box number. If a white card went in the box, you knew that person was no longer with us.

This year it was driven home when about 20% of the third year class boxes are whited out. For some reason I find irony in this. White out is used to erase mistakes. I don't necessarily feel that someone dropped from law school was a "mistake" in admission or that the person did not have what it takes. I have found law school to be arbitrary and class based.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

1st week done.....

The first week of my second to last semester is over. I would like to say that it went smooth, and for the most part it did, but there were a few hiccups. I have learned that the administration side of law school is pretty unorganized and often times very frustrating to deal with. All I kept thinking was: "After this, only one more semester!" Seems to make everything better.

I had a massage last night to try an soothe away the first week stress. I recommend this to any law student. The first week of classes and the the day after finals are good times to have those knots worked through. What always amazes me is that often times we will think we are not stressed, and then we realize that our shoulders or back are like blocks of wood. Law students are good at taking care of the brain, but not the rest of the body. Exercise, a good diet, and massage can go a long way to help ease the stress.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Child's Reaction......

So this week I have returned to the crazy stressed out loon of the law student. I actually have knots in my neck the size of Mt. Hood and it is quite painfu to turn my neck [this is due to carrying that 70 pound backpack again].

Anyway, I came home to a child that was not ready to go to dance the way I told her to be before I left that morning. I had been up since 6 am, worked from 7:30-2:30, picked my child up from middle school orientation, and back at the school at 4:00 for class. I run home after class to rush her to dance, and she is not ready. I freak out!! Started yelling. She looks at me with these huge blue eyes and says, "Who are you, because I don't even recognize you!"

This is the hardest part.....the fact that my looniness effects my child in some pretty crazy ways.

The Madness Begins.....

Yep, that's right, school is in session and no longer out for summer. This week has been a mix of stress. I just moved, my daughter has not started school yet, I am still working, and oh yeah---school is added into the mix.

I did do a few last minute changes to the 'ole schedule for the first time. I dropped Terror Detainees because I go in to Oregon Criminal Procedure and Practice taught by Oregon Chief Supreme Court Justice Paul Demuniz. I also dropped International Enviornmental Law in favor of Sexuality & Discrimination.

This week, I have had fun catching up with people I have not seen all summer. Also, checking in with Professors, and just plain seeing what my classes and schedule will be like. But with that comes the reality that again, my life is not my own.

Chief Justice Demuniz is a riot. The man is intensely intelligent, and witty to boot. He said on the first day of class, that at law school we are taught by professors to throw all the shit at the wall when we write. He said as judge, "We don't have time to read all that crap. So what I am going to do is teach you how to write for a judge." YAY--something practical.

The third, and final year, comes with a sense of excitement. The end is in sight and it is both exilerating and terrifying. I am ready to move into the real world, but the scary thing is that I don't know what that real world will look like. There are alot of unknowns involved.

Also, knowing that it is my last year, that I have real world experience in the courtroom, had leant itself for a good amount of confidence in myself that maybe I was lacking before. I am reminded of why I started this journey and how worthwhile it has been.

But finally, entering my first year, makes me want to give back to the entering 1L's. I have survived and I guess I want to pass on some hope that they too, will make it through this journey to join the exclusive law school alumni club.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My job gets to me sometimes.....

The subject matter can be wearing. Dealing with terminating parental rights means that I read about the dregs of humanity. Kids are abused, neglected, and the list goes on. Meth is the bain of humanity. We no sooner terminate on a mother for her four kids, and she is pregnant again. Lots of parents in prison, but seem to think they can still parent their child[ren].

But increasingly, I am finding it harder and harder to look the parents in the eye. Sometimes I feel quite mean. This morning I appeared in court to set dates for trial in December. The mother sat next to me, looked at me and said, "I really love your suit. I have been looking everywhere for one like that." She went on being really nice. Now, admittedly this woman is not innocent, but somehow I felt like a toad. She somehow because human to me this morning. She did not appear to be what the file says about here. She is no longer faceless. She is no longer another case of bad mothering. She is human----and I feel bad for her. I feel even worse that she has the defense attorney she does because this person is not impressive.

Why it has taken me a year to get to this point, I don't know. I only know I am here right now and really struggling. I love going to court. I like knowing that I am helping kids. It was easier before I had to look at the parents. These are real people, with lives, who no matter how bad of choices they make, most of them honestly love their kids.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Schedule Changes......

I changed my schedule. There was no way I could sit through Real Estate Transactions....not interest whatsoever. So I am now taking a Class in Adv Gov't and Con Law called Terror Detainees. This should prove to be an interesting class. The class is taught by Professor Dillar, who I had for property my first year in law school and really liked. I shall keep you posted on what this class ends up being like.

Summer Learning......

I have been quite neglectful in posting on my blog for all the followers. Being busy and learning new things has been quite exhausting. When I come home, half the time I just want a nap!

I am learning alot this summer. One thing that I am learning that is invaluable is the saying that honey goes much further than vinegar. There is an attorney in the office that plays a bit of the favorites. I really like this attorney, but have been wary around this person because I had heard alot about the shennanigins that has been created in the past by him/her. Anyway, I have made it my mission to be sweet and indespensible. And in the process I have learned so much from him/her. Court procedure, drafting motions, trial on.

Court: Whoo, this has been a trial by fire experience. The judge is a formal, southern guy. My first two appearances I have received, "I am not going to do your work for you" for simple things that I feel are unnecessary. For instance, I requested that he order a parent to stay in court until I could have the person served--totally within his realm, it would have been 2 minutes, but he refused to do it. So, I have learned that knowing your judges personality and idiosyncracies is IMPORTANT. This judge likes a woman who talks soft, is feminine, and real polite--basically not me! LOL. But I have learned to give him the image that he wants, and in doing so, I get what I want. Sell out, I know, but hey----I win in the end.

Lawyering: I have learned the art of making and argument to the court. I have spenct countless hours researching for an argument, and we get to court, and the unthinkable happens, and the next thing I know, I have to argue for the unexpected. I have learned that I can do so and win.

Other Lawyers: I have learned that older lawyers take advantage of the newbies and try to be snarky jackbutts in court. I had a lawyer say I was "misrepresenting facts" though what I said was exactly right and supported by the record. Yikes!

Court Again: I have learned how to build a record. As well as when to argue something, and when to let it pass you by because in the end it does not matter.

Office Politics: I have learned that state offices are the den of office politics. I was shocked by how brutal and ugly as well as how back stabbing some people can be. Eyes wide open on this one now. Watch your back. If someone has worked for the state, in the same department for 20 years, watch it. There is a reason why they have been there for so long.

So, that is not all I have learned, but just the highlights. School is getting ready to start soon. I have 3 homework free weekends now before the start of school. The 4th weekend before school starts will be used to move and reading for that first class period. Can I share that I am so glad this is my last year? What a journey.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Expert Witnesses

I have been in court all week watching an interesting trial. What has struck me this week is the how much some expert witnesses enjoy taking on the attorney's. Two doctors of psychology testified. One for the state, one for the respondent.....Each one enjoyed their time on the stand thouroughly. Each listened intently and did not allow the attorney from the opposing side to corner them or trick them. At one point, one doctor said, "I love arguing with you lawyers" with a big, fat smile on his face. And you could tell he did enjoy it.

One attorney said, "Isn't it true that the largest part of your practice is DHS referrals?" And the child's attorney said, "Objection, we are all whores to somebody." lol......To which the judge even laughed.

I have learned alot this week in the courtroom. #1 thing, you are not likely to trick a psychologist. I think they just might be more cynical then attorney's.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My First Legal Spanking

I was in court Monday doing my law clerk experience. I can't really talk about what was going on, because of confidentiality reasons. What I can say is that I got a really good spanking from the judge for something that was not my fault. Our office did not get one of the parents served with the petition and summons, so that the parent would have the 10 day notice required by law. I tried contacting the parent's attorney before court, but the attoreny never returned my phone calls. So when we were in court, I turned to counsel and pointed out there was a service defect and would he be willing to waive the defect? This attorney got belligerent with me and refused. Okay, that's fine.

So, I asked the court to order the parent to appear in 10 days, since the parent was present. The judge said no can do. He said, "I am not going to take your case for you Ms. _____. It is within the state's power to insure that the defendant is served in time for the hearing. The court cannot help it if you did not accomplish this."

Okay, I smiled, said I understood and moved right along. However, in my head I was mentally kicking the person whose job it is to tell me whether the person is served in time. Oh well, it was bound to happen sometime, yes? As a good friend said, it's not the spanking they will hold against you, it is how you handle it that counts.

More thoughts on 2nd Yr, 2nd Semester Professors

So, here is a link to thoughts on my past professors: Professor Recap.

As promised here are my thoughts on this last semesters professors. As you can see, I have had some of these professors before.

Appleman: I took Criminal Procedures with her this semester. With 5 weeks left, she had a medical emergency and had to go on bed rest. Standen took over. I have to say that Appleman continues to be my favorite professor. She is funny and makes the learning process engaging and amusing. This is my favorite course so far in law school. She gave one monster of a final, which is fine. I was expecting it. It was also fair as most of it was based on the weeks she taught, rather than on what Standen taught when he took over.

Standen's take over: 5 weeks of hell. I really enjoyed him in Evidence, but Criminal Procedures for teaching of Miranda was useless and theoretical. After this, no way would I ever take another class with him.

Judge Landau: One of the nicest person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He taught Statutory Construction. I learned alot in his class and was constantly amused by his stories about interpreting laws from the bench. His passion for his subject matter is apparent. Also, it is clear that he really, really wants you to understand.

Lauren Saucy, J.D.: Fair grader. She is very, very knowledgable in the area of Oregon Family Law. I learned ALOT from her and was glad to have taken the class. I would fully recommend this class as a practical course.

Dean Kathy Graham: Family Law. I like Dean Graham, but I think this is not her niche so to speak. Her test was extremely unfair in that she found the most obscure items that she spent 2 minutes, if that, in class covering. She was confusing in class and seemed to more about the theory of how it should work, than how it DOES work.

Cunningham-Parameter: Employment Law. I absolutely love this professor. He and Appleman are tied in my mind as the best professors. I took this class on a lark, not really interested in this type of law, but I found it fascinating. He teaches in such a way that is extremely repetitive, makes you apply the law, and keeps bringing the topic back around to the basics. By the time you need to take the final, you are really almost ready. I would take another class from him in the future.

Fall Semester 2009, I am taking the following classes, with the following professors and will do a recap the professors methods.

Appleman: Race and the Law [can't you tell I love this professor]
Wise: Comparative International Law
Tookey: International Enviornmental Law
Hill: Real Estate Transactions
Carrasco: Civil Rights Litigation
Skinner: Refugee Law

So three professors I have had before, and three new ones. Should be interesting.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Today was the day, I went to court! My supervising attorney introduced me and I was off. I introduced the matter, ask the court to take judicial notice of the file, and called my witness. When all was said and done, the judge ruled from the bench, freeing a child for adoption. This kiddo will now be adopted by a home that will love, protect, cherish, guide, teach, and provide for this kiddo.

I think that being a parent brings this job home in a little different way. Being a single parent even more so. Being a survivor of domestic abuse, even more so..... Sometimes I think of the fact that by the grace of God, I too could be one of those parents.

Some of these parents are from great homes, some not. Many have mental diagnosis's, although some do not. Many are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, but not all. Many of the women have been abused by their partners, but again, not every one.

Other than the cases where the man or woman who has a diagnosed mental retardation, what seperated me from these parents, is this: choices. I never did or tried drugs, maybe I was too scared, maybe I just hate being out of control, I don't know. But my ex-husband is an addict. I came from a good home, but I rebelled at one time. I was abused by a partner, but I chose when my daughter was born, to get out. What defines my difference, and where I can never, ever relate to these parents is that I would do anything for my daughter. I would put her needs before my own need for a man. I would walk through fire, slay a dragon, fling myself in front of a bullet--again, all choices. My life at this point is not all about me, it is about raising and guiding a little life. That is where these parents miss the boat.

I can't ever imagine raising my hand to my child and beating her. I could never live with myself. Do I get angry and frusterated with her? Ya, every morning when she won't get out of bed. Does she mouth off and drive me crazy? Of course, but I walk away.

But doing this job as a single parent makes me fierce when it comes to these kids. Fierce because you know, these kiddos have no choice. They could not choose their parents, or chose to be beaten, or choose anything that has happaned to them. They are the unheard voices of the tragedy. And as a single parent, I know what it is like to battle for my child alone, to be the advocate, to wipe the tears.....

I am glad my first trial was to free a child for adoption. Somehow it seems to make every single thing I have been through, worth it. There is a symmetry to it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

First Appearance in Court Monday

That's right folks....I am making my first appearance in court on Monday and I am so very excited---but nervous too. I can't seem to decide whether I am going faint or barf, maybe I will manage to do both.

I know I am scared. I plan to practice law in this county and I want nothing more to earn respect from not only my colleagues at my office, but the county judges and defense attorney's that I come into contact with. I feel like this is the second major step in my career path.

What was funny was getting my first case. I read through the file, looked up the adoption bulletin where I saw the child---a beautiful tow-headed child and the only thought I had was "Aw baby, I am going to get you free so you can be adopted." I even kind of teared up.

People ask me all the time how I work in the department I do. How can I look at all the abuse reports? How can I stand to see the evil in this world? I am sure if I focused on this, I would go crazy. Instead, I think about the fact that when my job is done, and the case is closed, the children I help are in homes where the parents want them, love them, and cherish them. I love my job.

And that is what I am going to think about Monday morning as I stand and address the court. I am going to think about how I love my job, and this is but a step in performing it. And I am going to think about this little child and the chance the child will have in life.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Huge moment in a law students life

Today I retrieved the mail, and whoo-hoo, there was my court certification. This gives me permission from our Supreme Court to appear in court under the guidance and supervision of a practicing attorney. Doesn't mean that the attorney has to be there with you, but that they are going over everything with you!

Mine came in the mail today and seemed like a huge moment. I have worked so hard and now I can appear in court and begin to have a profile in my county.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Schools out for Summer!

And no, I am not trying to quote or sing Alice Cooper songs. Seriously, another round of finals are completed. I jumped on a plane with my daughter and we jetted down to Disneyland for much needed fun and relaxation. I am always surprised by the feeling of relief that comes over me when I walk out after my last final of a semester. Literally, I feel as if a seventy pound bag was dropped off my shoulders.

For those of you that know me, you know that I have suffered from insomnia for years now. I think something like six. But these last 10 days since I have finished school, no such problem. In fact, this weekend I slept until 10 am each morning. that is unheard of for me.

I returned to work full-time on Thursday of last week. Thursday and Friday were weird for me. Simply because there is a new batch of law clerks coming in. I am waiting for my court certification to come in so I can appear in court! I am so excited about this. Beyond that though, there is a really weird feeling of being the 3L. I have been thinking about how I felt those first few days of work. How tired and strange I felt. And then I thought about how bonded I grew with the other law clerks.

I have begun realizing that I am at a stage where change, even small change, is starting to freak me out. We got booted from our cubicles at work, because we are the current law clerks and shuffled around. I am not in an office all by myself, that I can't call an office, I must call a workspace [governmental politics I think].

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Preview Day

Today I am going to the school to be on a panel to talk to admitted students about balancing family life with law school. I did this last year. I struggle on whether I fall into the same old scare them to death first routine or tell them the truth as I see it.......For me law school has been fun. Sure sacrafices have been made, but I don't regret anything I have had to sacrafice.

People tend to think about law school as this great big stressful thing...and it is, don't get me wrong. But that stress is stress you put on yourself because you are a type A personality. Single parents have a different layer involved though because your child comes before any school. And that can be difficult at times, but it is not the horror story that the school administration wants you to believe it is.

So, I will go and tell the truth and hope that my pearls of wisdom will sink in.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Stress is ON

Yep, it's that time of season again, the stress of finals is starting to hit. Up until spring break I could ignore the fact that the semester was drawing to a close. But when we came back the prof's started saying things like, "Only six more classes left...." and so on. Now I am to the point that there is no way to get around it.

Made more complicated by the fact that when you have a child, he/she will not understand what a crazy loon you become. Your patience ends and things that you would let slide before because they really are no big deal, balloon until you are ride them every single second. I blew today and my poor daughter just stared at me.

For some reason, my body goes through major attacks before/during each final. My first year, I had bronchitis the first semester during finals, and a sinus infection the second semester. This last semester, I thought I had escaped having a body failure until I woke up after my first final only to not be able to get up off the couch due to a cyatic nerve problem. I took last semester's finals drugged on vicodin and my grades suffered. This morning, I woke up with major jaw pain. I can't open my mouth bigger than to get a straw in it. The good news is that I am not working next week to study for finals, so that stress will be off. I am blessed that I work for a department that tells us that school comes first, job second.

I wish I had some helpful tips on how to handle the stress. I don't. I work out, eat right, try and chill out. But none of that helps me. The pressure of law school exams are intense and I think it is a rite of passage that we must experience. My theory is that if you can survive law school, you can survive any trial or pressure from a job that there is out there.

My one tip for those with kids is just to plan to take a couple of days after finals to spend with your children to make up for the craziness of finals. I warn my daughter that I am studying, grumpy, and stressed becase big tests are coming. She is actually wonderful because she tries hard to have patience with me during this time. Seems like the only thing that gives me peace during this time, is to stare at her sleeping innocent face and remember that as much as I do this for me and my dreams, I do it for her future as well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

News of the weird.......

I wish I could have found the video for this as I saw it on the news tonight. A dad in Indiana stood back and encouraged his son to bully another teen. He then leaned back on his truck and watched as the two boys fought. When the teen boy got in his truck to leave, the father got in his truck and t-boned the teens driver side door so that he could not leave.......

What in the heck is this world coming to where any father would think this is right? The dad now faces a sentence for up to 8 years in prison. I hope that he found his fit of rage satisfying because he will pay for it for a very long time.

Certainly, this situation does not need a rocket scientist to analyze what was the right thing to do here. What was worse is that the father and his son thought to TAPE what was going on.....You would think for the numerous assaults that have been solved by reviewing youtube tapes, that this dad would have thought about this?

These clips become evidence----great for the prosecutor, terrible for the defense side.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Law School Messes with ya

That's it. Law school messes with your brain. Cynicism sets in all the time. Analyizing never stops and you start wondering if you will ever be "normal" again. For instance, my daughter's adoptive grandma is taking my daughter swimming on Wednesday. She has told my daughter that she is welcome to invite a friend. My mind automatically goes to the liability involved.

There are other things too. You begin to calcuate every risk. When someone makes you a "promise" you start thinking about contracts.

The worst thing for me has been the way Law and Order is ruined for me. No lawyers are like that in real life.

Viewing cops takes on a whole new experience after taking criminal procedure. And forget watching the First 48 on A & E. You will drive yourself crazy. Really. I cannot believe people just let the police interrogate them without a lawyer OR that people consent to their house being searched. Sheesh........

I guess I am just venting right now because I feel myself slowly changing. Professors tell you in school that you will change and become something that you don't recognize anymore. I fight everyday to keep the things that I like about me, and recognize the changes that are happening on the inside.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Higher Education and the Students 2nd Amendment Right

I have been thinking about this for over a year now. About a year ago, I faced a personal crisis where I feared for my safety. I wanted to pack a gun....Seriously, have you seen the campus safety security? About 10 years younger then me, and no help whatsoever. But after reading the handbook and talking to the administration, I knew that to even put a weapon in my car was grounds for expulsion....Not a good way to start your law career.

That's why Jeff Maxwell's story has caught my eye. Jeff's story is a bit different then mine. He attends a public university, so therefore he does not forego certain rights that I do to enter onto private property. Jeff was also a marine. Which poses a most interesting question: we trust a trained soldier to protect our freedoms, yet we don't trust him to protect his own?

This story promises to be just the kind of case that the Supreme Court is salivatating to hear. Nothing could be better suited to define where are 2nd Amendment "rights" end. With the decision announced last year, we know the court is leaning towards viewing 2nd Amendment right to bear arms as an individual right. If this is so, then it is afforded on of the greatest protections.

Jeff did everything right. He carried a concealed weapons permit. He did leave a weapon anywhere a crazy person could get at it. He did not brandish the weapon. He has extensive experience handling the weapons. The school clings to a state administrative rule, which by the way is not a law created in our house or senate, but a rule promologated by the executive branch of state government. This is a classic case of seperation of powers issues as well as federalism at work.

Oregon War Veteren's Association is helping Maxwell to file suit in federal courts. I believe this is a case to watch, because I would guess that in 2-4 years, this will have worked it's way to the Supreme Court.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

When you face your first ethical dilemma

One day soon, as a law student, you will face an ethical/moral dilemma like you have never known. I can't really say that you can prepare yourself for it, but I believe how you handle it will be indicitive of how you will handle issues throughout your career as an attorney.

The other day, I had to report someone that I love to child protective services. I will not go into the ins and outs of it, but it literally ripped by world out from under me. First, I am a mandatory reporter and there are certain areas of abuse and neglect that I have no other decision but to call child services. But the thing is, that I would have, even had I not been a mandatory reporter. When a parent fails to see that he/she is putting his/her child in harm's way, morally there is a duty to do whatever you can to protect the child/ren involved from something that could/does harm them.

For me, I work in a division that terminates parental rights. I could not, in all good conscience, treat the person I knew, any different from one of the parents in my cases. That would be the ultimate in hypocracy. What is the worst though, is that normally when you report, there is no personal cost involved in reporting. This time there was.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Totally Non-Law Related

I am an American Idol the end of this week we will know the top twelve. But I have a favorite. Danny has been through so much in live and yet his attitude is inspiring. Check out his foundation in memory of his late wife: Sophia's Heart So, vote for him.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How soon you forget.

I was shocked to realize how soon you forget the stress of your first year. I have been spending more time at school then normal to study. With dropping my daughter off at school, it just makes more sense time wise to go straight to school and study. Also, Monday nights, it makes more sense to go from work, straight to school to have dinner and study some more.

I walked into the library the other day and it was crammed with people. There was a tension in the air and some students appeared to be just a wee bit frantic. Why, you might ask? I certainly did....and then it hit me---I was that student a year ago, frantically trying to get my first draft of my appellate brief written because it was due the next day.

Which led me to think that the first year of law school is like being pregnant and giving birth. When you are there, in the thick of things, every little joy is a miracle, and every little pain is the end of the world. But when it is done, and a year later, you forget just how it was.

Law school is a funny thing. First year students are kept pretty much to themselves and there is little interaction between them and 2nd & 3rd year students. Oh, I recognize a few of them because I gave them tours a year ago and told them how great Willamette was, I see them in their study groups, or in the library, but other than that, I do not see them. Then next year I will have classes with many of them and I will wonder who the heck these people are.

However, I am fascinated by how fast time has flown by and how things seem like a distant memory to me. Somethings will be imprinted forever: like walking through the doors my first day of classes and realizes that I was finally walking out the dream for my life. Or doing so well at the first year appellate oral arguments. Or receiving an A in a class my first semester of law school. I won't forget those shining moments. I also will not forget the kindness of Professor Jacobson or Professor's surprising ability of jumping from standing flat footed on the floor, to landing on the 3 foot desk---and the man is in his 60's. Or his cheekiness when he admitted he was in there practicing before so he would not embarrass himself.

But I seem to have forgotten the times I was called on and probably was not prepared. I have forgotten the pain of the first draft of the appellate brief, although seeing the 1L's was a fond memory! I forget between finals exactly how stressful they are. I am sure there are many more...........

Friday, February 27, 2009

Is this for real?

I have an addiction to any court television show. Sometimes they are quite informative, sometimes they are just funny. And then I found this show.....Divorce Court. No kidding. My guess is, without researching, that there is a pending divorce and this "judge" who is really an arbitrator, will settle simple small claims through her court. Either that or these are fictional and these are paid people from the local crazy bin [I know, not very PC, but heck where do they find these people].

Case in point is this video. You have to watch til nearly the end of the 1 minute clip, but it's a doozy. So is this for real? What do you think?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What I have learned in Family Law

So, this is not intended as legal advice. But sometimes what we learn in law school is useful and have had me pondering life in the future.

If you want to live with someone, don't. Co-habitating is a bad idea. Why you may ask? I am not talking about moral reasons, I am speaking from purely legal ones. When you split up, the court will not get involved with money owed or with who owns what property. Of course, you can mitigate this by contracting around it, but even then there are pitfalls and problems.

As for marriage, Oregon's property division laws can be pretty harsh. Marital assests and property are to be divided equally. And sometimes even property you owned before the marriage. What I have learned is that I should keep everything seperate and keep meticulous records so that I can prove in court that I never intended to share my property with my spouse. Then maybe I will be able to keep it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Follow up

So, now the school has made the news. Click on this link KPTV to watch the news story that hit the tv this weekend regarding the threats. What is so funny to me is that these students were not pictured out of fear, but I know who they are just by the sound of their voices. I am pretty sure that the students that made the threats would know too.

The whole situation is not funny at all. My commentary is that when this was first brought to the administrations attention, they did nothing until it had spiraled out of control. Had they acted without haste, it would have never happaned.

Another comment I have is this: I know one of the students accused. This was not limited to two students only. More students were involved and only two are taking the blame because the students in trouble will not give up the names. In addition, there seems to be a slight witch hunt going on. One student is not liked by the student body and this student is the one that the administration is barring from returning, even though what this student said was far less threatening then the student that returned to class.

What is amazing to me is that we are all adults and yet this is not being handled very well. And the result, letting some students get off without consequences, is not just or fair. I would argue that it is not even ethical.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sign of the times?

What a waste is all I can say to this story: Willamette University students complain of harassment. If you clicked on the link, you now know that two law students are barred from the college for making harassing and threatening calls. I have spoken to three of the students that received the calls and listened to one of the messages. After talking to the students, it is apparent that some of the law students [and they were NOT first years] were making these calls while intoxicated.

What is interesting is there is a split in the student body on what should happen. Some of the students think it was in poor taste and the students should be given a firm talking to. Other students think that post Columbine and Virginia Tech, whether these students were joking or not, there is no excuse for it.

Either way for these two students, their careers in law are over. Why? This will have to go on the bar application and this will be seen as not "good moral charactor." So these students have spent a ton of money to go to law school, and in some very careless, tasteless phone calls, flushed their futures down the drain.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Swim, Float, Swim...

Who would of thought about some of the creepy things you can learn in law school? In my employment law class, we studied a case were a man, Barnett, sued some ex employees over a "trade secret." Apparently, Mr. Barnett had spent years perfecting a way to teach infants and toddlers self rescuing methods in order to safe themselves from drowning. Barnett hired two employees who learned the method, promptly quit, and then opened their own studio teaching the same method. Now it sounds funny.....but it is a bit disturbing. See, I went a did a little googling of this subject and found the method used. Barnett has something on YouTube that shows how it works when it is taught, but there are several videos of it being 'taught' to children. Basically it involves just tossing an infant, face first, into a pool. They will kick and thrash, and then you turn their head so that they are floating, let them gasp, and then flip them face first again. After a while the infant learns to swim, then float to breathe, then swim some more. Truly creepy. But if you don't believe me, check it out........

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Motherhood, Student, Employee collide

There is one time in which being a single parent in law school bites: when your child is ill. I have had this hit home this week. My daughter was diagnosed with the childhood ailment of hand, foot and mouth disease. She is miserable and the side note is I have a milder case then her. But what does this translate to? A week of missed classes and work.

Everything comes to a stop when a child is ill. If it were just a cold, I would pack her up and take her to class with me--but this is a highly contagious viral infection and therefore, we are stuck at home. My absences stack up-----and so does the frustration.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Power of the Alumni

One thing that perspective law students do not think about is the power of the alumni. It is like some secret club that you have to be a part of [or almost be a part of] before you can fully understand. The Alumni can open some truly golden doors for you.

From a students perspective, when you meet someone new and they say, "Hey, that's my school. How is the law school dragon treating you?" You find an instant friend that just "gets" you. There is a bond, an unexplainable initial trust, because this person walked the path before you and MADE IT OUT ALIVE.

Since I live in the town the law school is located in, I run into alot of alumni. I make it a practice to always chat and network with these people. The added benefit is that they are the best sources of encouragement when you are freaking out.

I share this as a new insight I have. I think it is important for a student looking for a law school to ask to speak with some alumni. They are the ones that you are going to get the truth from and get a sense of what life was like for them while they were attending school, and how they have done since passing the bar.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New tip for law students: work out!!!

Seriously, find the time to work out. I wish I would have set a priority for this during my first year. There is so much stress that goes on during law school. In the two weeks I have been working out, I have felt a HUGE difference in my overall mood and stress levels. When I am feeling stressed now, I put the Ipod on, and then take it out on the eliptical machine.......I also hired a personal trainer who I can get mad and frusterated at on a frequent basis, but that is not always feasible on a law school budget.

What I am getting at is stress leads to alot of unpleasant side effects: weight gain, high blood pressure, sleep deprivation, depression, insomnia, lots of viral infections/colds, or just plain mean and moodiness. I am sure there are more effects but those came quickly to mind.

Exercise releases endorphines to your body that counter some of these effects. I have been an insomniac for years now, but since seriously working my body, I find myself resting a whole lot better. Also, instead of feeling like I am wound up like a rubber band that is going to snap inside, I feel relaxed and ready to face everything.

So, try not to neglect this in your daily habits. You will feel better and have more energy. I work out in the mornings, and my mental focus is very SHARP right after when I have classes. If you are not working out yet, consider starting before you come to law school so that it becomes won't regret it.

Things you learn in law school

I love my employment law class. I never thought I would like this area of law, but it is all about fighting the "at-will" presumption that this country is so found of. I like thinking that you are giving the workers some more rights, without a union. Especially when the employer acts in a horrible way.

But I keep learning interesting things that bust things that I always assumed. HR departments always say that when a prospective employer of an ex employee is calling for a employment verification, you should only verify when they worked, what they made, and that is really it. But I found out that employer cannot be sued for giving information to the prospective employer about the ex employee. The myth is that this would be a defamation suit. But there is a privilege that applies for employers giving information about past employees. If the employer has a reasonable belief that there was a cause to fire and the new employer should know, you can't be sued UNLESS: you reveal it in an inappropriate way [broadcast it to more people that need to know], or you abuse it [usually by lying]. There is no cause to sue and in fact, these suits are RARE.....

Another myth bunked in law school....see all that money spent on tuition is doing good.

Another Moot Court Competition

Another moot court competition is coming up. I have decided to compete in the Open Appealate competition. I am excited about this competition because appealate work seems to be something that I could excel at. The competition is based on a research brief that you write with a partner [this year's topic is the 8th Amendment]. Then you have oral arguments based off the briefs.

Last year during the first year appealate competition I did very well. I am a fast thinker and respond well to firing questions from judges. Last year, the judge I had said that I have a "gift" in that it feels like I am having a cup of coffee and conversation with them when I am speaking. I want to brush up on this and see if I still "have it." I don't think that appealate work is something I would want to do, but you never know.

So, my brief is due Friday. Oral arguements are Feb 9-12th. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I am catching a cold and feeling yucky.