Monday, March 29, 2010

9 Indicted In Student's Bullying Death - Boston News Story - WCVB Boston

9 Indicted In Student's Bullying Death - Boston News Story - WCVB Boston

Unfreaking believable.........this just proves how cruel kids can be..............

19 Days of Classes....well technically less

If I look at my calendar, only 19 days of classes are!  Where did the time go?  But, if I count class hours...........then I am 39 hours of class left.   Less than a full work week.  This is also my last week of work......12 hours to go.  This is a strange feeling.  29 days on the countdown until I take my last final.

I actually am full of changes right now......changes that are making studying hard.  My sister is moving states away, and taking her two children..........both whom feel like my own kids.  So, I am heartbroken.  This is bad timing for me, because I am having such a hard time focusing on what needs done.   I just came off of spring break.  This weekend, I could not focus on studying at all.....I spent most the time cleaning, which I have found to be extremely therapeutic.  But does not help the reading.  I wish there was a perfect way to cushion one's self the couple weeks before finals.  There is no way.  I hate to share that.  Seems that anything emotional or stressful that can come up, will as finals approach.  Your energy levels are low, you are lacking sleep, and then you are weepy.

Seriously, the last year of law school, stress has taken such a toll on my body that I have notice more gray hairs, suffered panic attacks, drank more coffee than can possibly be good for any person, and my body is falling apart............budget for a few massages---seriously.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting

One thing we do not think about as law students, is that once we pass the bar we become "officers of the court."  One of these responsibilities that this carries is the fact that you are a mandatory child abuse reporter.

Oregon Revised Statute 419B.010, "Any public or private official having reasonable cause to believe that any child with whom the official comes in contact has suffered abuse, or that any person with whom the official comes in contact has abused a child shall immediately report or cause a report to be made . . ."

Failure to report is a violation and carries a maximum penalty of $1,000.00 [and for attorney's a sanction from the bar]. Mandatory reporters have also been successfully sued for damages in civil court for failing to report.

ORS 419B.015, "a person making a report of child abuse shall make an oral report by telephone or otherwise to a local Child Welfare office of the Department of Human Services, to the division's designee, or to a law enforcement agency within the county where the person making the report is at the time of the contact."

Oregon law (ORS 419B.025) provides that anyone participating in good faith in the making of a report of child abuse and who has reasonable grounds for making the report, shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed with respect to the making or content of such report.

I have been familiar with this reporting requirement for some time now.  I have been a mandatory reporter for a few years now because of my voluntary position as an advocate for abused women.  Our office requires it.  I have had to report people, even a family member and it was hard, hard, hard.  Your life changes with this responsibility.  There are CLE classes you can take to become familiar with things you have to report.  And in addition, there is a question whether you can report if your child is a client and they tell you.  Things get awful thorny there.

But start thinking about this now.  Especially if you are going to be a prosecutor, do juvenile law, or work in family law issues.  You will be faced with this responsbility and you will have choices you have to make.  Each state has it's own statutes that govern what is abuse.  Somethings that surprised me about abuse/neglect that I would not have thought of were these situations:

1.  Parent dating a known and untreated sex offender....this is a threat of harm, or neglect issue and must be reported.
2.  A filthy house that would endanger the health or welfare of a child....this is a treat of harm and considered child abuse.  Actually, if the house is dirty enough, it is an actual criminal charge.  In my state it's called criminal mistreatment.
3.  Exposure to pornography.  If the parent is open with it, does not keep items out of child's exposure or reach, it is a neglect issue.
4.  Parental drug use.........failure to protect, threat of harm.
5.  Domestic violence, even if the child is never hurt but merely exposed to it.  This is failure to protect and exposure to abuse.
6.  The standard is minimally adequte.  There must be minimum shelther, food, and heat.  Therefore lack of electricity, food or shelther is also neglect, even if the parent cannot help it.  The parent must find a way to provide the bare minimum.
7.  Lack of medical care.  If a parent refuses to take a child to the doctor for regular check-ups, this can be an issue.  Dental care is also an issue.  [likely not a removal situation, but assistance and intervention by the state to help.]

Those are some issues that I never really thought of before my own training.  Sometimes you have to use judgment in order to decide.  Sometimes there are close class.  Sometimes you will call the state welfare office and they will take your report and do nothing at that time......However, I have seen cases where there were 22 reports before the state intervened.  Every report counts.

As a mother, I take this responsibility VERY seriously.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Break Rocks 3rd Year

By the third year of law school, and by spring break, you are done in.  It's time to graduate.  I will go back and have 3 weeks of classes left, then finals, then I am DONE!!!!!  But spring break this year has been like none other.  First, even though I work, I am much better about wanting to take time for myself for my daughter.  So, this week, I said I would only work my normal hours, switched them up a bit, and have had time to really spend time relaxing, cleaning the house [really needed that], going to the beach, and just having time hanging with my daughter and her friends.  Seems so strange that this will be my last spring break ever.

Responses to Reader Rachel


First, I am so happy that my writing has helped you!  That is encouraging to me and makes chronicaling this journey so worthwhile.

Q:  My biggest parenting concern is that I may get so overwhelmed at times that quality time with my daughter suffers. I plan to take your advice and make law school an "8 to 5"...have you found this do-able all through law school? Even in the first year??

A:  The first year, 8-5 is very, very easy.  You aren't working.  You should have time between your classes to study and read.  You might, especially when writing your first year brief, spend a few hours on the weekends writing or studying.  The second year is a bit tougher if you work as well.  My tip for this is to try and find an activity [like dance] for your daughter in the evenings for a couple of times during the week.  You can study, and she can have some fun doing "her thing."  Because some of the time you would use to study will be used to work instead, you will have to be creative.  Incorporating your child into the study routine can be fun for them as well.  My daughter held up my flash cards for me when I was studying.  Third year, is an even more different experience.  Quite frankly, you stop reading for class.  Most of the cases, you have read before in some context or another.  You know how to skim a case and get out of it what you need for class discussion.  The prep time for class is drastically reduced. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Responses to Reader Sarah

Q:  How did you do it? I am a single mom, seriously contemplating how i could do it - mainly - do you quit your the loans cover all the living expeneses on top of tuition?
A:  ABA rules prohibit a student working over so many hours a week.  If you work your first year of law school, you are insane!  That cannot be done.  For me, I weighed the cost of student loans against my earning potential in the end and came up feeling like the loans were doable. Yes, you will get living expenses, daycare costs, and sometimes transportation costs on top of all of that.  Is it expensive....yep, I have a small mortgage in loans.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  I will be providing security for my child.   I like knowing this.  My second year of law school, I did work minimum part-time as a law clerk [about 15 hours a week and fulltime in the summer]. You make sacrifices, but you need to decide beforehand whether you are serious about making those sacrifices.....

Sarah, I do not regret making the decision to go to law school.  First, I am a different person. I have more confidence, I have better earning potential, I think and see the world differently....I like me.  These are things that I personally would have spent ANY amount of money in order to accomplish.  And they are things that I really didn't consider when I considered going to law school.

Second, my daughter has seen me study and work hard for my education.   She talks about "when" she goes to college, not "if."  She sees the value in an education.  Also, she is a MUCH better student for watching me and is way above her classmates in her studies.

More than anything for me, this is a calling in my life.  I have known since I was a small child this was my purpose.  To ignore this would have been impossible for me. Also, without that deep need to pursue this, I would have not made it through the last several years.  When I felt like I couldn't go on any further, this is what held my head above water.

Good luck!  Let me know what you decide.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Breakdown.......mental, emotional, spiritual, physical

I have alluded to this phenomenon a few times in the past years, but I am not sure that I have spelled out what happens to a person when things get overwhelming.  Once every semester, you will hit the "Wall".....I have talked about this wall a few times but never to the extent that I think people can understand how devastating it can be.

For me, the "Wall" involves just wanting to hide from the world.  Everything seems overwhelming.......EVERYTHING.  Class, people, work, family, EVERYTHING.  It is like the joy is just sucked right out of you and you feel like crying.....this is definitely the way it is for most women.  I have talked to many of my girl friends and have determined that we cry, eat ice cream and pull into ourselves during this time.  We are easily angered, become hostile, and blame it on severe PMS.  But the truth is, the stress has become way too much.

I hit my wall this week.  The strangest thing pushed me over the daughter's fish died.  A fish, that's right, a stupid 4 dollar fish.  I lost it.  Cried, drank some rum, ate some ice cream, and posted modelin stuff on facebook.  I didn't want people around me, yet I did.  Tip #1 for those of you reading, let your friends be there for you.............

In the past I have pushed people away thinking I was crazy for feeling this way.  Thinking that I am alone as a single parent, and I must always be strong and never show my vulnerability, I have not asked for or accepted emotional help during this time.....which honestly perpetuates the depression, because that is what it is plain and simple.  One friend saved me....literally, through laughter and something to look forward too.  Her husband is out of town, and he took the boys.....she sees my facebook and calls me with this, "Hey, D is out of town this weekend, how about you come over and we have a one night stand without the sex!"  Complete with food, liquor, and hot tub!  I laughed so hard, and it gave me something to look forward to.

Tip #2---find and cling to your center.  I am a Christian and believe that coming to law school is my calling and purpose in this life.  Law school challenges faith beliefs like nothing you will ever experience.  If you do not cling to what you belief, renew yourself daily, and march forward through the muck, you will get deeper and deeper in the pit of dispair.  Now, if you are not a Christian, there are other morals, beliefs, and things that you find your center in......maybe metitation, yoga, physical exercise...whatever.  Find it, pursue it and let it bring you some comfort.  You will need it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Some Professors are just AWESOME

Recently I was talking to the owner of a bar prep study program.  One of our professors teaches, or has taught in the past, the Contracts section....which has one huge selling point for me.  Anyway, for some reason this program canceled the Portland classes and switched it to Eugene, taught by all U of O staff.

This professor, when he heard, personally called me at home to tell me of the changes and to make sure that I was getting what I paid for.  This is an ABOVE and BEYOND way to teach, or to even approach the subject.  He is one of my absolute favorite profs anyway, but to have him go out of his way to contact me and give the heads up was such a surprise and a blessing.  What it showed me is that he has absolute integrity.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Heat Is On

I feel slightly guilty that I have not posted in so long......the crazy busyness of 3rd year final 46 days until I take my last final is catching up with me.  There is just so much to do.  Study for a final, figure out which bar study program to go with, write a paper, finish up work, and tie up all the graduation lose ends.......the heat is on.

The world seems crazy to me right now. I definitely have a case of "senior" itis.....if there is such a thing.  Focus in class in nilch, I pretty much zone out unless it is a class that you really can't do that in.

Finally made my hotel reservations for the bar.  I decided to stay in a hotel up in Portland.  I did not want to have anything from home distract me or feel like I had to pay attention to my daughter.  So I booked myself in the hotel for the test site.  So, I just need to walk down there and plug my laptop in and go for it.  One thing done.