Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Movement

The Occupy movement is fascinating me on so many levels; first as a amateur sociologist, second as a student of law, and finally, as a fed up citizen of the United States.  I was a sociology minor in undergrad, which strangely prepared me for the study of law.  But it is at times like this that I truly am amazed at how systems push back and forth against each other.

While studying this subject, I focused on social movements and protests... Every radical protest in the 1900's started with the militants and the college students.  They made ridiculous demands.  Yet, the movements grew and as that happened, the average citizen joined and the demands became reasonable.  Size has everything to do with a successful protest, but also, persistence... especially if what you are protesting is the government.  So far, it looks as if Occupy is here to stay.

The student of law looks to the first amendment.  Yes there is a right to protest, but what and how far can this go?  What about when the protestors right violates one of mine:  say like walking peacefully through my favorite park or driving down a road.  What then?

Early yesterday morning, the city of Portland arrested protestors that had shut down Main Street.  Many were outraged.  But the question remains, whose rights are more important?

This is interesting times for sure.  Will Occupy stick around long enough to become a powerful voice, rather than the irritant it is right now?  Only time will tell......

Saturday, October 8, 2011

You Should Teach....

That has been the common statement to me lately.  Oh, don't worry, I still plan to practice law.... but I need something to pay the bills in the mean time.  To be honest, I ache because I miss school so much.  I have been considering going back to school to get an MA then a PhD in something.... yet when someone said teach, I thought "Ya, that might fill the void."  So, I am going to keep applying for adjunct positions.  I think there is something valuable to be had by sowing into others lives.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Silence needs to be broken....

Yes, it does.  I haven't been talking a lot.  Mostly because I am disappointed in myself.  See, I have taken the bar a few times and have not been able to pass.  Latest example is this past July.  Results came out and again, I did not pass... this time the points for not passing were HUGE.  Not only that, but the fact of the matter is that the MBE (multiple choice questions) continues to be my stumbling block.

Now the MBE has become a monster in my head.  I was in good company.  Two of my good friends, both tops students in the class, were right along side me, except they did pass this last time.  I don't begrudge them.  But I have to wonder what the heck???? I bought a book, which has prompted me to write this post.  The book is written by a professor at Penn State who is speaking to those that have a hard time passing the MBE.  I never considered myself a high risk test taker.  But he says I am.  Why?  I am a single parent.  That means that I cannot cut off my life for the 8 weeks necessary to study for the bar.  I can't.  It's not possible.  So how do I rebound from that?

I don't know.  I wish I had some simple answers for everyone so I can pass and then pass on the solution for you.  As I navigate my way through this, I will share. 

The funny thing is:  If we gave only multiple choice answers, and twenty minutes to answer that question with one of those answers, and no research available -- in the real world of lawyering, it would be called malpractice.

This isn't about what you know... it's about whether you can pass a standardized test.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More money does not mean better product

It's taken me 36 years to figure this out.... just because a product is more money, does not mean it is better.  For the past 4 years I have battled adult acne like you would not believe.  I have been embarrassed by breakouts and have tried everything. I have spent endless money on expensive products which Clinique ladies and MAC artists have assured me will clear all up.  Then I went to try all organic at ALBA and spent close to 40.00 for a months worth of product.  I even tried proactive...... spent the 40 dollars there too.

And then this past month I did some research.  Seems that most women my age do something fatal.  We listen to those "makeup" experts who tell us to wash our face twice a day.  That ends up doing two things:  1) making your face produce more oil because it drys everything out, 2) makes for more acne.

After researching drugstore options, I ran across an article by a dermatologist.  They recommend Purpose.  5.99 for the bottle.  Non-soap, no oil.  Wash once a day.  The Dr went on to say that it is important to exfoliate to clean all pores out.  She recommended a 2.79 bottle of Queen Helene Mint Julip exfoliation product.  So, for the past 2 weeks I have faithfully been using these products.  I finish with a non-comegenic, oil free, moisturizer that I already had.  And guess what?  No more acne.  And as a bonus all the red spots left behind from breakouts are fading too. 

What does this have to do with practicing law, law school, opening a practice?  We all know that if your face is a mess, you feel a mess.  I no longer feel a mess in this area.  I have a glowing, healthy look to my face.  And I am ready to face any opposing counsel or judge when the time comes!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Business Plan: Mission Statement

As I am writing the business plan, the biggest thing that I am struggling with is the mission statement.  This should sum up your business neatly with what you are about and plan to do.  I spent the whole weekend fine tuning mine, running it by people, figuring out what core values I want my firm to hold.  I decided that my whole model will be based upon scripture in a round about way.  In Isaiah 1:17, the bible defines justice for us.  My model is going to paraphrase it to:  do right, seek justice, help the oppressed, defend the cause, and fight for rights.  All that  I do, all that I promise will be based upon those words.  If it doesn't fit in with that model, it's not me.

If you are thinking you might open your own practice, think carefully about this.  Think about what you will put out there for the world to think of your business.  Choose wisely, choose carefully. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

The kids....

My practice is going to focus on family law and disputes.  I know this is a hard area of the law, I don't pretend that it will not be.  The hardest part of this is that I am finding out how much parents use their children as weapons.  Over the last three years, I have had several friends that have gone through a divorce with children involved.  Here is what I have learned:

1.  Petty complaints abound.  That's right.  These complaints are numerous.  A few of my friends have new "legal" (what they think at least) complaints every few days.  They think that the court will intervene.  I use to play counselor to these (they psych kind, not legal kind) and entertain each of the complaints.  But that is NOT the way to deal with it.

2.  Ex wants to control morals.  Yep.  The big thing, more so with moms than dads, is that pesky new girlfriend around the kids.  And unfortunately, some ex's have a revolving door of new hookups and dates.

3.  "I just want him/her to stop being a selfish person and put the kids first."  What can I do to make the other parent, parent?  It is as if the parent believes that there is a motion to file in order to make someone stop being selfish.  Sorry, if your ex does not put your children first, (s)he is never, ever going to.  A court can do nothing about this -- and the truth is neither can you.

Bottom line:  I'm not an attorney yet.  I don't give legal advice to these friends.  I actually refer them to speak to their lawyer AFTER I ask this question:  What is your goal/objective in filing a new motion?  That is, what do you want the court to do?  Inevitably it comes down to something that I want to drive home emotionally and logically to them.......................  They will say things like:  I want him to be a dad, or, I want him to ______.  Then I say this:  No, that's not something a court likely enforce -- that's morality, it seems.  So what do you want the court to do?  The court can ordering parenting classes, or issue a noncompliance contempt order, or require supervised visitation in severe cases -- so what do you want that is within the power of the court??? When asked that they pause.  See the really GOOD parents realize quickly that the outcome means their ex being further alienated from the child's life and the child being hurt even more.  They stop and think about it.  Or, you get the truth:  I don't care, I just want him/her to hurt.

So I have learned quickly something I will apply in my practice:  What do you want the court to do?  What is your goal/objective? 

Yeah, no wonder attorney's are referred to as counselor's.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Trust Accounts....

One thing that the bar is SUPER crazy strict about is definitely those pesky trust accounts.  And as a law student, this is not something that we think about too often.  We are told about the need for a trust accounts and taught a few little things about it.  For instance, in Oregon, any interest earned off the accounts is paid into a fund that goes to legal aid. 

For me, after the fiasco's I have had with my personal banking and customer service, I am definitely going with a local bank.  I want to go be able to go to a bank when I have an issue and deal with someone face to face.

I was able to call the bar today and find out which bank pays the best interest rate off the trusts.  I narrowed my choice down to two banks.  Then from there, I networked out to other solo practitioner's asking their good and bad experiences with the banks.  I think I have narrowed it down. 

I am nervous, unsettled, excited, itching to get going..... all the dominoes are falling into place.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Here and carrying on...

Sorry about the lack of posting... At some point I figure I need to change the title of my blog, but we will wait a bit.  I have been super busy trying to get an office set up and operational by October.  There is a lot involved, from finding space that is affordable, to getting all the "legal" stuff out of the way....

Things have been interesting for me in personal ways.... my health has been a struggle in ways I did not expect, my mom was hospitalized and has been ill so I have been running her office, and making adjustments to my personal life and finances so that I could focus on opening my own business.

I want to share some of my planning, but I need to wait.   But in the months to come, I am certainly going to make notes of things that I want to share with my readers as I continue to make my journey.  I also want to share some of my personal struggles with employment that I have previously been silent about.  There is so much on my mind, so much to share. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ticking Clock

The ticking clock is ticking slowly.  Do you remember sitting in high school and watching the clock ticking by, so slowly?  You could hear the second hand as it chugged along and you were convinced that time could not go any slower?  This is me right now.  The clock is ticking slowly.  I can hear the time tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock......

I am now a little under a week away from the bar results.  April 22nd at 2:00 is the time.  If all goes well, I will be sworn in on May 6th at 1:30 in the afternoon.    I still don't know what I will do, where I will work, what direction I will take.  I have an idea rolling around in my head, but as someone who operates with caution, I don't know if this idea is the answer to a dream, or the start of a headache.... But I still have seven days of tick tock, tick tock............

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gut Instinct

Interviewing.. I rock them.  I just do.  This last time, I interviewed for a firm that is my dream firm to work for.  I was going through a recruiter.  One of the benefits of a recruiter is that you hear back almost immediately how the interview went.

Here was the result:  "They loved you.  Said you were great, interviewed well, confident, dynamic, highly intelligent and would make a wonderful attorney.  But they are not asking you back for a second interview.  I tried to press them as to why and they said it was a gut instinct."

A gut instinct?  Everyone that I have asked about this has said that this is a cop out.  I don't know.  My guess is that for some reason I did not seem like a good fit.  Maybe my big personality would not mesh well with others.  So it's back to the drawing board.  I am bummed but not giving up. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

MPRE Results...

Were posted today and yes, I passed... one exam result down, 1 more to go.  April 22nd is D-Day for the bar exam results.  Can I tell you that it feels like part of the weight on my shoulders has fallen off??? What a great feeling.  Now, pass bar, get a job! Yeah!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


One thing that lawyers love to ask you during interviews are questions that will make you "think on your feet."  Now, I find this annoying.  We all want to put our best foot forward and these questions are designed by their very nature to trip a candidate up.  I use to agonize as well about what questions I would be asked.  I would agonize over this.

Most interviews for legal positions are centered around behavioral questioning.  This is designed to put you in simulated situations to see how you did react and therefore to try and figure out how you would react in the future.  There are a ton of websites out there if you google behavioral interview questions, that will give you sample questions based on what character trait the interviewer is looking for.  I have found these sites helpful. 

I also have found a good formula for answering these questions.  In your legal research writing class, we all learned about IRAC (Issue, rule, analysis, conclusion).  But there is a way to answer these questions in the interviews -- STAR:  Situation, Task, Action taken, Result.  This keeps you concise and with a goal in mind.  At the end of the interview, I give a little closing argument that gives the interviewer tells them that I am interested in the job, and why I am a good fit for the team.

So now you have my secrets to a successful interview beyond the confidence, eye contact, and general warmth.

Oh, one more thing -- have an interesting/funny/memorable story.  For me, when someone says, Why are did you go to law school?  My story is simple.  I saw my first legal dance happen when I was nine and sat in Judge Roy Miller's courtroom.  I remember being in awe and watching the back and forth tango of a criminal trial.  I remember thinking, "That's going to be me some day."  I remember Judge Miller letting me sit in his big chair, at his big desk, and him rolling me around in the chair and pointing me towards Willamette Law Schools campus and telling me that there is where I needed to go.  Not to mention this coincided with the year that Geraldine Ferraro was running as vice president and I found out that I was a political creature as well, but that's another story.  That was the day that the love of law began in me and it never left....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

More than money

Here I am, again, interviewing. I like to interview.  I am good at it.  I am confident and comfortable in who I am as a person and this comes across instantly.  I make direct eye contact, smile when appropriate and have a good time getting to know the person that is interviewing me.  AND I have an ability to read a person instantly. 

The interview today went great and I have a second interview early next week.  This job is a good opportunity.  This is a small firm with one stellar reputation in town.  In fact, when I went through my divorce, I wanted to hire this attorney but could not afford the retainer fee not to mention the hourly billing rate.  While the pay on this job is on the lower side, what I will say is that what I would learn from the two partners of this firm is absolutely priceless.... which brings me to the point of this post.

Think about where you are going to work and who you will work with.  While we all want to make a ton of money, factor in who you are learning from.  Factor in what the partner's attitude is towards mentoring and training a new hire.  What is their plan?  How long have the partners been in practice?  How are they regarded by other attorney's, by the local bar, and by the community?

I came away knowing that the pay is kind of low, but the education I will learn from this firm is priceless.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 2 of the Bar: History

I honestly do not know how I did.  I do know that I flew through both sets of MBE questions quickly, finishing with an hour to go.  I made myself double check things.  The first session was a brutal exercise in staying awake.  The words were blurring in front of my face.  I got up 4 times to stretch, hoping deep breathes and stretching would bring some oxygen to my brain and keep me awake.... didn't really help that much and resulted in a scolding from a proctor.... yeah again.

I don't understand some test takers.  Maybe I have too much of a "I don't give a damn" attitude these days about the exam, or something.  But people, it's a test.  Your life will not end if you fail.  So breaking down and crying during the exam -- if you can't hand the stress of this exam, I suggest maybe the practice of law is not for you.

So, I am done for now.  Hopefully I never have to take it again.  In 8 weeks or so I will know for sure.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

First Day of the Bar Out of the Way

Finished my first day of the bar exam.  I am mentally and physically exhausted.  I can't adequately describe the the feeling.  I wish that I could.  You study so hard for this and cannot predict what will be on the exam.  Our essays consisted of Contracts, UCC Article 2, Evidence, Trusts, Wills, Corporations, Ethics, Civ Pro, and Torts.  The worst part is all that time I wasted on Admin Law, Secured Transactions, Federal Tax, Oregon Evidence, Agency, and Partnership.

You realize that things, like the stupid questions, are idiotic and contrived.  They aren't really testing your ability to practice law, and hold some standard, but testing how well you read, and how well you memorize..... You also come back to your hotel room, or house and you are frustrated, tired, out of sorts and no one you know understands this feeling (except your fellow test takers.)  Well meaning friends and family tell you, "you are going to pass, don't worry."  How do you not worry?  It just eats away at you, day after day.......hour after hour.... until the results come back.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A New Experience.....

Right now I can't post much about this, but I will follow up with some facts and some other information soon.  I have been asked by an organization to be a spokesperson as they navigate a series of lawsuits lodged against them by the attorney general.

I had to think long and hard about this decision.  What I will do is make an enemy out of one of the more powerful men in law in my state.  However, I believe that what is being done to free speech, a free speech to this particular group of people is disgraceful and beyond the pale.  Sometimes we little people need to be willing to take on those in power, to get things accomplished.

I was honored and flattered that someone I know had the confidence to let me handle the press for their organization.  Yes, you heard it PRESS.  Likely I will be appearing before the press, and possibly cameras and radio, in order to make the position of this organization heard.  So, keep me in your thoughts.... I don't want to have a terrible sound bite!  LOL.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Distractions Abound

Why is it that life sends us distractions at the time when we can least afford the time to follow them?  I never have understood this.  I go along good, time starts running thin, and then POW -- things start happening all over the place that leave me where I don't know where to turn or how to get through things..... Not that these are bad distractions -- in fact, they are not.  The distractions I am facing are quite lovely.  But that does not change the fact that the bar is looming, actually three weeks from today.......

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm Here, I Promise....

A few of you have been contacted me wondering where I am.  I'm here.  Studying hard.  I also have to fly out to see my sister tomorrow.  She is pregnant with her 3rd child and things are not going so well.  She is supposed to be on bed-rest, but her husband is deployed overseas in a hot zone.  And she is at home with her 13 year old step daughter, her Asperger's 11 year old son, and a very, crazy busy 2 year old girl.... so, I am headed that way.  Have books to study, will travel ---

So, I will try and post a few more things in the next coming days.  Nothing has really been striking in my mind these days to post... things are quiet, study is ratcheting up...  I still miss school.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ethical Duties.......

One thing that is not said a whole lot, or even really talked about, is that there will come a time when you are going to need to report an attorney to the bar.  Each state has a Rules of Professional Conduct that must be filed.  Rules in Oregon state:

Rule 8.3 (a) A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has
committed a violation of the Rules of Professional
Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that
lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer
in other respects shall inform the Oregon State Bar
Client Assistance Office.

There is also 8.4 which deals with misconduct such as illegal acts, improper relations with a judge, influencing judicial opinions, using someone else to violate the rules and so on.

The first thing you need to know is this phone call is probably going to be the hardest call you will ever make.  In most cases, it is not confidential.  The lawyer that you report will know that you reported him or her.  And with that, you have created an enemy for life.  Law school does not teach you about this.  Very often all they say is that you have a duty to do so, but they do not tell you how hard it is to exercise the judgment to do so.  Human nature is such, that we don't want to get involved. 

What Would You Do, the show by John Quienes shows us that most of us won't become involved.  But with an admission to the bar, that luxury is non existent.  Being admitted to the bar is a privilege that carries some tough responsibilities.  Do what is right at all times but realize there will be a personal cost to you.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Your first legal job....

I have spent several weeks talking to attorney's that I know.  All asking me how I enjoy my job.  One thing that has been a common theme is that most first jobs are horror stories.  One attorney told me that her first job involved a man that would get drunk and pinch her butt.  Another attorney told me about a boss that was verbally abusive and patronizing.  I think it is important to talk about the fact that this profession is filled with people who are alcoholics and people who are extremely depressed.  These people can bring terrible misconduct into the offices in which we work.  The horrible part is that as a new attorney, these are the people that you would be dependent on for a reference, let alone your pay check.

Take the following story from a friend as an example:  My friend found a job with a firm right away.  Things went well, and then one morning my friend's boss showed up at work drunk.  For two days, this attorney advised clients while intoxicated, raged, yelled, drove the company car while intoxicated, and made threats to their spouse so that the whole office could hear.  At the end of the day, my friend called the firm and the managing partners in.  What followed was interesting.  Two more incidents followed.  One where the boss made threats and accusations against my friend for disloyalty for going to the managing partner -- the boss actually made threats to my friend to ruin his/her career.  This friend was not allowed to leave his/her office until a weird loyalty pledge was affirmed to the boss.  The second incident the boss confronted my friend and accused him/her of spying and reporting all activities to the managing partner, followed by some threats.

Another friend worked for an alcoholic attorney as well and was placed in the inalienable position of having to turn his/her boss into the bar when the attorney showed up at a hearing highly intoxicated.  What baffled my friend the most is that no other attorney, nor the judge found the behavior of the drunk attorney as strange or weird.  Therefore it feel upon my friends shoulders to do the right thing and call the bar.  Actually, he/she had an affirmative duty to report such behavior.  As you can imagine, this attorney lost his/her job.  No reference, no thank you.

Another friend found out this the boss had a criminal conviction for spousal abuse.  Not exactly morally fit, correct?

My point is that you are likely going to find yourself in a pickle.  The odds are FOR this, not against it.  There are a few things you can do when researching a firm...... You can call the bar and see if there have been complaints or discipline.  You can run the name through the local courthouse's public records.  If you see a conviction for battery, or DUI -- that's your first clue.  Ask around.  Anyone you know in the profession, asked pointed questions like, "Would you work for this person?"  That may not always help you as professionals have become adept at hiding issues.

This may seem overwhelming to you.  I share it because it is important to realize this is a reality and you need to guard against it.  These are extreme situations -- but they exist.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Do right, even if it bites you in the end........

There is a personal story that I will tell you all someday....... right now it is too fresh, to new, and I feel too betrayed to be able to go into right now.  But a few months ago, I needed to make a decision that could effect my professional life.  I chose to do the RIGHT thing.  The thing with integrity, the thing that would allow me to sleep at night-- that is the thing that I had to do.  While I was assured I would be taken care of, not to worry, that I would have no concerns... the truth is that I was left twisting in the wind.

Lesson learned:  Trust no one.  But always do what you know, in your core being, is right.  It may hurt sometimes, you may lose, but the truth is that your integrity as a person will continue to shine through.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The New Year....

Some people make New Year's Resolutions...  I don't anymore simply because I have never been very good about keeping them.  But I like the thought of them because when you break it down, these resolutions are made so that I can become a better person.  Mine usually had something to do with losing weight.

This year I think I want to concentrate on not myself so much on superficial parts.  This year I would like to help someone achieve something they dreamed of, give to others in unseen ways, be seen as an encouragement to those around me, remember to be grateful even when everything is falling down around me, and continue to lend a hand to all single parents I know.

Here's hoping each of us have a Happy, Safe, and Prosperous New Years.