Thursday, September 30, 2010

The fall out

The fall out of not passing the bar has been really rough.  Emotionally, physically and just in every aspect.  The worst part is trying to figure out how to make a living for myself.  I have consulted two temporary agencies where I have been told that I am over qualified.  So basically I would need to lie about my last seven years of education, and last three years of work, in order to get a job.  I am stuck in this quandry of what to do. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Navigating the Bar Review Course.......

On Friday, after I got the results, the first thing I did was call the Bar Review Course that I used.  They have been great.  They have a pass guarantee.  If you do not pass the first time, they give you access and all the supplemental information to take the bar again.  So, here I am, gearing up to start studying again.  Fun, fun, fun.

In addition, they are sending a representative to the area to meet with each student that wants to in order to develop a plan of attack for the retake.  Interesting.

I still do not have my scores.  I am anxiously awaiting them so that I can see where I went wrong.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Love, love, love

My LRW professor emailed me after she saw a post I put on Facebook that I did not pass.  She is just one of the most wonderful women I have ever met.  Anyway she told me that there is an ability to appeal the results if your test scores are really close.   I should be getting my results by mail either tomorrow or Monday.  After reviewing the score, I will know whether I should appeal or not.

One thing that was interesting...... the handwriting passage rate was 50%.  That is how I took the test, I handwrote the exam.  Compared to the other passage which was 78% for computer takers..... Makes one wonder.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ruthless Trust

Today was a tough day for me, but not as tough as it could have been.  First, I need to say that God has gifted me with the most incredibly loving and beautiful people who I call friends.  These wonderful people will never know the huge part they have played in helping me to not allow a single test to define me.  On the heels of learning to bar results, the family cat Mel had to be put to sleep.  Today was one heck of a shitty day (sorry for the naughty word, but I think that God might just agree with me!)

The day I finished the bar exam, in July, I was filled with a sense of peace.  I made a conscious decision that day…..I was going to practice ruthless trust in my God.  I was going to believe that no matter the outcome of the results, I would trust that He knew, He had a plan, and that it would be to prosper me, not to harm me.

When I stared at the results and my name was not on the list, my stomach sunk, my heart rose in my throat, and I fought the tears.  Then I felt numb for about a minute.  As I sat in my quiet front room, I remembered my promise to practice ruthless trust.  I went to the dictionary --- imagine that, I mean I still am a law school graduate!  One goes to the source!  Ruthless means having no pity.  That means no pity for myself.  No holding back.  No sinking in sorrow.  No falling into a pit of despair.  Got it.  Trust has many meanings.  There are legal definitions, moral ones, academic ones…. All kinds.  But here is what websters says Trust means:  Trust:  a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something b : one in which confidence is placed.

There it is.  I know my God, I know His promises.  I know that He set me on this journey seven years ago.  I know that there is a provision, a blessing in not passing.  I don’t know what that is.  I don’t know what is going to happen over the next six months……but I KNOW in the pit of my soul, where my heart beats, that His plan is perfect……my confidence is placed in Him.

I am not going to pretend I am not disappointed.  Likely when this slumber party is over, and the girls are gone, I am going to take a “me” moment and cry.  Not with pity, not with defeat, not with hopelessness, not even out of fear….. I will cry because I believe that God gives us tears to cleanse the hurt out.  When I am done, I will focus on tomorrow.  I will focus on what needs to be done to climb the mountain.

Ruthless trust does not mean I won’t hurt……..ruthless trust means that when everything looks like the odds are stacked against me, I will turn my face to the One that sustains me.  I am willing to ride in that car, with Him behind the wheel – even if I  have no idea where it’s going.  My confidence is grounded  in the belief that the road was paved before me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bar Results.... tomorrow.

Tomorrow is D-Day, the day that I find out whether I passed the bar.  I feel that I have been in this waiting phase for way to long now.  And I have.  Life has been on hold since May.  First graduation, then study for the bar, then taking the bar, now 8 weeks of waiting hell.  Honestly, I have not been that worked up about it until today. 

I woke up this morning and my stomach hurt.  Of course, I could not sleep, so it started before then. 

I am ready to work.  I cannot do this anymore.  This nothing to do during my days.  I mean, I look for work, but still.  I am having a really hard time not having purpose.

Bar results out 2:00 pm.  To Be Continued.......

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Contact Me Button....

A regular reader wanted to share with me what her first years were like and only could post on the comment button.  So I have figured out a way for the contact me button on the sidebar.  Feel free to contact me directly if you have questions or need an ear.  I really want to make myself as available as possible to you---especially if you are juggling that first terrifying year!!!!!  So Lauren, thanks for giving me the idea.

Thank You Notes

When I first heard about sending thank you notes after an interview I could not believe that you were supposed to do this.  But apparently, you are.  Actually it is another opportunity to put you and your skills in front of the interviewer so that they can be reminded of what an awesome applicant that you are.

Just don't do what I just did --- double, triple and quadruple check!  I misspelled the name of an interviewer on my note.... UGH.  If you do that, graciously apologize, showing that you caught the slip and corrected it and were sorry for it.

Handwritten notes are the preferred method, but if time is of the essence, an email is acceptable as well.  The notes should be sent within 24 hours of the interview.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Round Two Over

I have never been to a callback interview before.  This was interesting to say the least.  I had no idea how to prepare for this go around.  This time, I met exclusively with another attorney on staff that does all the legislative work.  We chatted about the job and he asked me what I was comfortable doing and what I was not comfortable with.  Could I, and was I, willing to say "I don't know, but I will get back to you."

After a 40 minute interview, I met once again with the attorney who interviewed me the first time.  She showed me around the office and showed me the empty office for the new attorney.  I will say the office is REALLY nice and it has my name all over it!  LOL.

The timeframe has changed a bit.  They want to have someone in place on or about October 1st!  They also want to have one final round of interviews with the final two candidates.  I am really, really hoping I make it to round three and conquer!  Keeping the Eye of the Tiger alive (Rocky would be proud).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Call Back Interview and Reality Check

Here are some of my musings tonight.

First, I interviewed for a staff attorney position on Monday and on Thursday, I received a call back interview.  I was really excited.  Let me share with you first that this job is nothing like I imagined doing when I went to law school.  There is no court room involved.  More contracts and torts work (love torts, not so much on contracts!).  But, I am excited.  First, because it is a small office enviornment and close knit.  I can tell that they are looking for a really good fit to be a part of the team.  Second, law is the not the primary purpose of this business.  I would be a staff attorney for a trade association.  I like this thought.  My job would be primarily teaching CLE classes for a trade.  One thing that always bothered me about working at the DOJ was lack of people contact.  I like people (most of the time).  I like human interaction and miss it when I don't have it.  I also do not like drafting the same motions over and over and over.  This job would be varied and I would remain in a constant state of learning.

Which brings me to my next musing.  I went to law school to prosecute.  I took a high concentration in criminal law and I love it.  However, having these last few months off to study has also given me time to reflect.  I had started becoming jaded and cynical with almost a cop mentality.  Everyone was suspicious.  Everyone was a potential child abuser or criminal.  I really don't want to live my life that way.  And certainly, while my child is at home, I don't want to be someone who ticks the criminal element off to the point that someone might try and hunt me down.

Also, after four months out of law school, I am really quite tired of all the legal questions that come my way on criminal matters and divorce.  I kind of want to be able to honestly say "That's not my specialty.  I can give you the name of someone."

I guess I say all this to admit that maybe I am wussing out, or maybe I am changing my mind, or maybe I never really knew what I wanted to do to begin with?  I don't know.  I am just open to all things.  I am open to all possibilities.  And I am excited that this job will be new and interesting -- keep your fingers crossed for me.  They said they want to make a decision by September 24th (btw: bar results come out that day too!).

EDIT TO ADD ON 10/6/2010:  I had to read back on what I wrote here and admit something......this job would have been a copout for me.  I was MADE to do trial work, whatever that may be.  I was made for the cut and thrust of litigation, the challenge, the thrill, the chase, the stress, the nerves, the first responder attitude I have, all of it.  I was uniquely created to take up a mantle that few lawyers have taken up and few are cut out to do.  I would have taken this job for two reasons:  1.  Fear of failure and 2. Lure of money.  Really, not until I held the "Thank you, but we are not hiring you" letter did I really, really evaluate how much of a sell out this would have been.  And how much a breaking of a sacred trust this job would have been for me (more on this thought to come).......  MORAL TO THE STORY:  Be open to different TYPES of law, but be TRUE TO YOUR SELF!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Preparing for an interview

Research tells you that an initial impression is made in the first 5 seconds of meeting someone.  That means that it is absolutely important to look sharp and polished.  I have spent endless hours trying to decide what to wear for interviews, what color to wear on my finger and toe nails, and what shoes to wear.

1.  Polish is important.  I have chosen to wear a medium tone gray suit with a purple shirt underneath.  Conventional, yes, but not boring.  I am wearing ankle boots on my feet with heels to give the illusion of height (I am 5'2 in my stocking feet).  I will have my nails short and practical, but in a french manicure.  Classy, understated, polished.  I will put on my Mac makeup with natural coloring, not to light, but not evening wear either.  No perfume---my regular soap/lotion will suffice.  I will straighen my hair with a flat iron, and sprayed with a shine finishing touch.  All giving an image of professional, confident, and polished --- just what I want to project.

2.  Do your homework.  I researched the association I am interviewing with.  I have figured out who I think will be interviewing me.  I looked everyone up on the internet.  I know the CEO is from the south and new to this area, has middle school and high school children, and was formally an adjunct professor at a small liberal arts college.  The two attorney's are vastly different.  One is a confident looking woman, who is an ex prosecutor, who went to an Oregon law school, though not alumni of mine.  The other attorney is a man around my age, but admitted to the Oregon Bar in 2004.  Nothing much personal about him, but he does the lobbying and legislative work for the association.  He is frequently quoted and pictured during campaigns and ballot measures speaking on behalf of the association. 

I also have read the magazine that the association puts out quarterly for the last year.  I know the hot topic buttons, the issues that are important to the association, and have a clear picture of what the association stands for.  I have done enough research to figure out that this place is a good fit for me, at least on paper.

3.  Be confident.  I have tried to anticipate questions that will be asked of me.  I will be honest and candid.  I have nothing to hide, and in fact, I have much to offer to the team.

4.  Have questions prepared.  I want to know how, or if, the association trains.  What would be expected of me as I try to get up to speed in the area of law that the association operates in.  I want to know how long before I would be asked to do any legal work and what that work would be.  This area of law is immense and not something that you can master in a month, let alone a year.  I want to know how these attorney's learned this area so well, and how fast I am expected to get up to speed.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Making plans just in case

Autumn Lee was 34 years old the day she climbed on the raft with her parents, siblings, husband, and six children.  She was excited about the trip and had been talking about nothing else on her facebook status updates for weeks before.  On Sunday of the rafting trip, she was thrown from her raft.  She was trapped under a log for seven minutes, while her siblings tried to rescue her.  They performed CPR and she was lifelighted to the nearest trauma hospital.  Autumn never came too.  She was pronounced brain dead.  What happened next was a nightmare.  Her mother refused to say goodbye, even though the doctors said there was no hope.  Her husband wanted to let her go.

I tell you about Autumn because I want to stress the importance of having an advance medical directive, also known as a living will.  Most states have these forms that you can down load.  You fill it out, have it notarized and make sure that the person you give the power of attorney to make the decision whether to pull life support has a copy, as well as your primary care physician.

Autumn's mom is not ready to say goodbye.  But her husband and children do not need to see her this way anymore.  While her husband has the right to make the ultimate decision, fighting over what to do can be a painful wound in the family circle.

As single parents, we have to think of these things.  I will be filling out an advance directive to leave with my will.  I do not want anyone doubting my wishes.  This tragic accident has made me talk to my loved ones to let them know I never want to be in that state.  The ultimate gift of love to me would be to let me go to be in the arms of Jesus.

My first official interview

After several applications out, I finally got that treasured call:  a call for an interview.  The words, "Your resume has risen to the attention of the CEO and rose to the top for scheduling an interview."  I am so stoked!  I have never really thought about practicing in the area of law that I applied for, however, after much research, I think I would be a good fit. 

So what tactic do I use to interview?  I read as much on the organizations website I could.  I am applying for the position of a staff attorney.  So, I made myself familiar with the business that they are in.  I looked up, by googling, some of the major players in the organization.  Then I looked at the area of law and will be researching some of the issues so I can be prepared to talk about the industry itself -- though I have little knowledge of the practice of law in this area.

My interview is I prepare some more, I will update here what I am doing to prepare (besides finding a new suit to wear because I have gained the proverbial 10 pounds this summer).  While I want the employer to decide on me, I want to look and see whether I want to hitch my train to this particular star! 

Grants and Scholarship Question

Brynea asked me a great questions:  Are there opportunities for any grants or scholarships for at least tuition that u have encountered?

Any degree above a bachelor's degree presents challenges for finding grants or scholarships.  They are scarce on the ground.  Most reputable law schools with strong alumni base offer scholarships for tuition if you have good grades and do well on the LSAT.  Willamette offered me a scholarship the first year that was pitiful.  But after performing well during my first year, my scholarship was increased to cover 1/3 of the academic cost for each year.

The American Bar Association, as well as state chapters, offer scholarships to minority groups especially hispanic and african-american groups.  These typically have to be applied for by December.

I ran into very few other scholarships in my search for law school.

However, be aware that new school loan restructuring makes student loans much less scary.  In addition, there is a new system in place were if you work in government, public interest, or true non-profit for 10 years, the rest of your loans may be paid off.  Between an income based consolidation loan and the loan forgiveness programs, it is possible that you would have the majority of your student loans forgiven.