Thursday, November 29, 2012

LSAT's: Why they matter.

My LSAT score was average.  My first year of law school I spent saying, "Hey, LSAT'S are not a true indication of how a law student will do."  (Disclaimer:  In my case, I was above school median, and I did do better than the formula said I would -- but this is not the norm).  I spread that around to everyone that would listen.  And quite frequently applicants will write addendums to why their scores should not be indicitive of what type of student they will be either.  They point to their GPA or something else.  But I am here to tell you what the LSAT is indictive of......

1.  Whether you pass the bar on one try.  Yes, you heard that right.  There is a coorelation between your LSAT score and bar passage.  The lower the score the less likely that you will pass on the first try, if at all.  Why?  If you can't do well on the standardized test that is the LSAT, you are going to struggle big time on the bar.

2.  The LSAT is but ONE idicator.  LSAC takes your LSAT score and your GPA and then has a formula that calculates what your first year law GPA will be.... and you know what?  It's eerily correct.  For instance, if you have someone with a 153 score and a 3.79, then LSAC says your first year will have you at about a 3.1.  Yep, right on Johnnio as is evidenced by scores of individuals who demonstate this.  There will always be a few outliers, but by and far, the score is right on.

3.  The mean average of the LSAT is about a 152.  You need to be looking at law schools and find if you fall near the class profile average.  If you aren't close, it's a pipedream that you are getting in.  You want into Harvard?  You better be scoring in between a 170-175.  Otherwise your application is no more than toilet paper to the admission office.  As you go down the tier levels, you will see that the LSAT median falls.  University of Oregon has a 155-160 spread.  You need to hit that mark.

4.  Be competitive in your scores.  If the LSAT median is 153, anything below a 147 is just NOT competitive.  No matter what great argument or tragedy you have for scoring that low is not going to secure you a spot.  Retake the exam.  Period.  Might not be fun, but hey, neither is law school.  (Oh, and don't study the same way you did before --- find something that works this time).

5.  Bad LSAT score means less or no merit scholarships the first year.  Got that?  You want merit scholarships, you better be on the upper end of that score.

6.  You score below a 150 (the median), take that sucker again.  Score below a 145, don't even bother applying to a law school -- unless it's an unaccredited one and you don't want to sit for the bar in any state but California.

Look, there are programs out there to help you learn.  Study for this test as if your life depends on it.  If you do bad the first time, study different the second time.  If it didn't work the first time, it most certainly will not the next time.  So your approach has to be very, very different.  This test is not about what you know... it's about what you can problem solve in limited amounts of time.  Repetition is the key to doing well.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Applying for law school

In my temporary position at the law school, I read a ton of personal statements.  After the first month, they all started sounding the same.  I have thought a lot about what I would recommend to people writing a statement and here are my thoughts:

1.  First, remember this is probably your most important academic paper yet.  Proof read, then have others proof read, then proof read again.
2.  Don't write this like it's some creative writing english essay.  Honestly, I don't want to read about your toes drifting through the lapping of the waves off your boat dock.  And neither does the admission committee.
3.  Everyone applying for law school wants to be there.  You really aren't unique.  Nor is your drive to go to law school.
4.  Don't include a photo.
5.  Don't minimize your mistakes.  Own them in full.
6.  Don't tell us why you would be a good candidate for another law school.

So, having bumped the negatives out real fast, let me tell you what I would do to make myself standout:

1.  Give the committee a snapshot of you and your passion.  This is your one shot to show why you stand out as a PERSON, not as a student.  Your GPA will will tell your success as a student.  Your recommendations will also give evidence to this...... but your personal statement allows the committee to see who you are and how you will meld with the class profile that is growing.  Make yourself standout.
2.  We need to know you are a fighter.  Law school requires immense amounts of focus, tenacity and perserverance --- show us you have that.
3.  Write actively, persuasively, and positively.
4.  Show us that you have researched our school and incorporate specifically what it is about our programs and community that makes you want to call our school home.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My new hero Bob Goff

My friend sent me a link to as she was at a conference where he was speaking.  This man's determination to become an attorney, reminded me of myself.  But his heart to do more with his law degree (and admittedly how he considers Disneyland to be his echoes the call in my own heart.

He started a nonprofit called Restore International.  In the past year, this nonprofit has built two homes for girls who were sex trafficked, one in Uganda and one in India. 

He also has written a book called Love Does.  Looking forward to reading this book and reporting back.

I love reading about lawyers that feel a greater calling in their lives and who take the responsibility and mantle of a law degree seriously.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I have one of those coveted interviews for a recent law grad, bar passer.  The job is interesting, but not the practice of law, even though bar admittance is required.  The job is for an association that as part of it's services provides consulting on legal issues for it's members.  Not only is there consulting and investigating for the members, but also teaching of seminars to educate members and writing articles for publication.  The area is employment law which is a fascinating area and with the economy the way it is, a growing area.  Pretty excited to have the interview.

Oregon: So you are sworn in, what happens next?

No one tells you about the process that happens AFTER swearing in.  I naively thought, great, I am sworn in and it's good to go.  Law school doesn't prepare you for the fact that this is NOT TRUE.  Here is a run down of the bar happenings in Oregon:

1. Swearing in ceremony where you take the oath, and sign it, to be filed with the Surpreme Court.
2.  A few days AFTER the event, the Oregon Bar will contact you with your bar number.
3.  You must wait at least 24 hours before registering your personal profile with the bar.
4.  Register your profile with the bar.
5.  Sign up for the New Lawyer Mentoring program (in Oregon this must be done w/n 28 days of swearing in).
6.  Contact the PLF if you plan on opening your practice.  The PLF is the exclusive insurer for malpractice insurance in Oregon.
7.  Look for your 2012 prorated bar membership dues.  They are due sometime the beginning of December (I had no idea that you had to pay this fee!).

That's just to get you legit with the BAR........ not the mirad of things you must do to get your business registered...... lots, and lots, and lots of paperwork.

Please research before you call....

One thing that is apparent to me after talking to students considering attending law school...  people do not do their research.  So, most law schools have a webpage, most have information they can send out to you when you request the information.  Research your schools requirements.  Let's be frank.. you won't get into Law School that has a median LSAT score of 160, if your score was a 144.  Not going to happen no matter how good your GPA is.  Retake that test.  If you retake the test and do not improve by 5 points or more, and you don't bump up into the 150's, I think you should consider how you studied for the test.  You need a new program.  This test is not about how smart you --- the test is designed to test your standardized testing reasoning and your response to stress.  Nothing more.

Second, visit the school.  Or a law school.  Law school is not undergraduate school.  Each school has specific curriculum you have to complete your first year (and some require 2nd year classes as well).  Find out what each schools requirements are for curriculum.  Find out everything you can about the school and make a list of questions.  It's okay to ask admissions these questions.  That's their job and they love to interact with potential students.  Heck, ask the school if they have any current students that you can speak with...... there you will get brutal honesty.

Let's talk Charactor and Fitness.... If you have a record, you might want to consider what it was for.  A few speeding tickets over a 10 year period is common.  A kidnapping or felony assault -- not so.  I am betting most law schools are not going to grant admission with that kind of record.  Why?  Because the bar won't admit you with that kind of record.  Why would you go through 3 years of HELL only to be told by the bar that you can't be recommended for admission?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Reminder for you 1L's

Today I met a single parent struggling through that first semester of law school.  Watching the agony of wanting to get good grades and wanting to be a good parent to a small child brought up a lot of feelings in me, reminding me of my first year.  I spent some time talking with this student because I could see that the proverbial wall of information overload had been hit. 

So some reminders:

1.  Study smart, not hard.  There really is no reason to read the minuta of a case.  Look at what the case pertains to.  So if it is first degree murder on appeal.... there you are.  Look at the elements of first degree murder.  Now go find what it is in the that case that is being argued that violates/does not establish an element to the case.

For example:  First degree murder is the premeditated killing of another human being with malice aforethought.

You can break that down to:
1.  A human died
2.  Premeditated
3.  Malice aforethought.

If something is on appeal, it deals with one of those prongs.  You can now look at the facts of the case and the holding to find what that is.  And zero in on the courts reasoning.

Some students miss that crucial point. They forget to find the elements that is being appealed and they get lost in the arguments being made.

2.  Find some distraction for your kids.  Enrolling him/her in dance or soccer... anything that buys you a few hours of time.  Something fun for the child to do, while you get an hour to yourself to study.

3.  Find a teenager with a babysitting bag... seriously.  My daughter is 14 and she has a bag of goodies.  She also teaches the little girls whom she might babysit dance and cheer moves.  She gives them one on one attention outside of a babysitting atmosphere -- the upside is your kid gets somethign fun to do -- and you get study time.

4.  Let go.  You are not going to be the 4.0 student you were before you had a child.  And contrary to what you believe, you will not be superparent either..... meaning the dishes and house are going to go to pots.  You might earn a 3.2 instead.  You are not going to be able to stay up until 4:30 on study sessions.... can't do it.  It's not realistic.  And you know what? It's okay.  It's okay to let some of these things go. Your priority is to your kid(s), then school.... but to yourself to.  Which leads me to #5.

5.  Take some me time.  Seriously.  You need to be YOU outside of super student and child.  Find a way to unwind.  Let's face it, if you are in law school, you are likely wound tighter than a mama bear who is protecting her cub.  Take a walk (regularly).  Pick up that guitar that has gathered dust.  Have a regular tv program that does not require you to think.  Actually, the best thing is something physical to get those stresses out.... but the point is this:  get out of the house and for goodness sake, get out of your OWN HEAD.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Job Market is Abysmal

If you are reading this because you want to go to law school, be AWARE, the job market is abysmal.  There is very little out there for recent graduates.  Know this.  Be aware.  And know that one has to think creatively.  The law is traditional.  Very slow to turn.  And that means with the economy as well.  Conservatism in hiring and turning things around.

I am finding that most of my classmates hung their own shingle.  Very few secured firm jobs or government jobs either.  Firms downsized and so those lawyers with less experience were let go and those attorney's filled the market that is usually open for newer attorney's.  Networking only goes so far.

Swearing in Ceremony

I rocked the Elle Woods look the day I was sworn in.  I sat smack in the middle of a sea of black and gray. I have to say that it would have been hilarious if someone would have took a picture from the stage, looking out, with me the only one in a bright color... it would have been like a Where's Waldo! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Waiting Game Again...

From 3/11/11

Here we are again!  The waiting game.  Questioning myself, wondering if I did the right thing, answered the right question, gave the examiners what they were looking for.  The waiting is killing me.  I can't sleep, my TMJ is out of this world -- I'm in pain, and if I don't find a way to deal with this stress, I am probably going to go nuts.  This is not a good place to be.

In addition to all of that. I am still in limbo.  How do I know what kind of job to look for?  And the job market still is terrible.  So, what do I do?  Where do I go?  How do I know what is coming?  I am a planner. I do very little on whims or just because......

((That's where I left off in 2011.  And reading this again today brought tears to my eyes and made my stomach hurt.  I can't believe that was me 1 1/2 ago.)

My first job in the legal field....

I found this in my drafts... apparently I never published it!!! Kind of fun to read something I wrote in 2008.  Thought you all my find my thoughts back then interesting too:

I am one of the lucky few first year students who landed a paying job for the summer. Actually, my job will run for two years. I am working in the government sector for the office responsible for representing the state agency that is responsible for placing abused/neglected children into protective custody. My office receives the case when the agency decides that it would be in the best interest of the child(ren) to terminate the parental rights in order to free the children for adoption.

This job is emotionally exhausting. We deal with the "dregs" of society--parents who neglect, beat, sexually abuse, expose the children to drugs or sex offenders, and so on. These children come to the agency broken and emotionally fragile, having seen images and experienced pain that the average person cannot even begin to comprehend.

As a law clerk here are my average duties:

Organize evidence.
Compile a trial notebook that the attorney will use.
Generate witness list/data source.
Draft petitions, motions, orders, subpeonas, and judgments.
Interview witnesses.
Prepare exhibits.

I actually really enjoy what I do. We take a case and organize it and do the work prep for the attorney.

Mom and Job Collide

This is the hard part... working and single motherhood.  My daughter is so use to me dropping everything in order to attend to her needs.  I can't do that anymore.  We have had a few issues in the past couple of weeks where I had to say to her, "I am sorry, I can't just drop work and pick you up."  The adjustment period from having my sole attention to having to share it because mom has other responsibilities is a hard one for her to adjust too.  On another note, it is nice because she is ASKING for mommy daughter time.  And that is precious to me.  I only have her 4 more years before she spreads her wings and flies outside of my home.  So scary!!!!!


For the last year I have kept busy by serving as Vice Chair, with a recent promotion to Chairperson of the Board for the nonprofit POLE Gems.  POLE stands for Purposed, Original, Loved, Empowered.  This is an organization doing some amazingly awesome things in the city of Salem. Our purpose is to reach sex industry workers -- those that society overlooks and even forgets about -- in order to show these men and women that they are LOVED and VALUED by someone. 

This has been an amazing journey of ups and downs this past year as we have started up and worked to stay afloat.  I have learned a ton about starting a nonprofit, of running one, and generally how to deal with diverse personalities.

Why post this on this legal blog?  Because my legal education has helped me be qualified to fill this position.  I think this is an area that we laywers can easily "give" back and it doesn't cost a dime, just a bit of time.

Oh, and because these programs are important.  In my state, Portland is the #1 hub of sex trafficking in the United States. It's time to raise awareness.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weird how God puts things together

I don't know what I am going to do.... very few job prospects right now as the economy is in the dumps.  But I am beginning to wonder what God is up to.  After 2 years of struggle and not knowing what was going to happen, constant fighting, life a huge struggle...... all the sudden it feels as if the flood gates are opening.  And you know what?  I can't believe how.  For a few years I have toyed with the idea of opening my own office.  I have a GREAT desk/credenza/guest chairs that are the traditional dark wood/glass lawyer desk that I picked up for next to nothing.  I have a free office space if I want it.  But more things are coming together.

A friend of mine who designs logos, stationary and websites.... she has offered to design everything for me -- as a gift!  Can you believe that?  A gift. 

There are more things coming together, but this is the most obvious, awesome thing.  I have to crunch some numbers and take a few look at things, but OMG, this might be a reality.

Elle Woods, I will make you proud.

Today I went shopping for what I would wear when I am sworn in later this week.  In my second year of law school, I told my friend Marty that my dream was to be sworn in wearing a hot pink woman's suit.  Well, I was out shopping today for a jewel tone shirt to wear under my gray suit.  I wanted something that was not really colored because I did not want to look like a woman trying to look like a man!  And as I was walking through the store, I stumbled upon a HOT PINK BLAZER!!!! OMG.  I tried it on and fell in love.  Absolutely fell in love.  As I stared at myself, I thought, why not?  I want to be different, so I am purchasing this jacket and I will make Elle Woods proud!!!!!  Now to find hot pink shoes............

Friday, September 28, 2012

Swearing In.....

Look for a future picture of my swearing in ceremony :)  October 4th is the date.  I am so stoked.  The day my goal comes to complete fruitation.

Someday I will fund a scholarship

I was googling away as I am apt to do, checking out other single mom blog's about law school, when I ran across some interesting scholarships.  I was shocked to find that there are several Tier 4 schools that offer scholarships exclusively to custodial single parents.  Here is one such college:

This is so wonderful to me.  I think that I could start something like this with just funding books at first, and then letting the program grow from there..... another dream found.

Retaking the bar: change what you think you know....

Now that I passed, I started to wonder why.  Not that I question passing as much as what was so different about this time.  Incredibly this time I felt the least prepared.

I have been reading a ton of different blogs by other students that are retakers.  I don't know exactly why I did not do this in the first place, I mean generally, misery loves company.  But I started thinking about the difference this time.

So, why now?  First, let me say that I let my insomnia roam.  Sounds weird, but I began to realize that my sleep aids (particularly prescription meds) were messing with my fight or flight response.  The previous times I took it, I never had that adreneline response test takers talk about.  I had almost no nerves.  A few months prior to taking the July exam, I weaned off the sleep aids completely.  When I took the exam this time:  I had this nervous energy that ate me alive.  I still appeared calm on the outside, but my restless leg syndrome was in full throttle --- I am so sorry to the men on each side of me that had to endure the leg bouncing and shaking I do when like this.  Pretty sure they wanted to see me dead by the first 2 hours of the 1st day of the exam.

Those that say you have to change how you studied are right, but they are wrong.  I think you have to change your study material.  Not all bar study programs are the same.  Barbri just did NOT work for me.  At all.  Instead, I built outlines based on the Board of Bar Examiners subjects, I sat down with my Black's Dictionary, my Strategies and Tactics book, and some hornbooks, as well as some online outlines and went to work.  And what I found is that this time, in researching, I learned not only the subject matter --- but how to take the MBE exam. Until you learn how to take the test, the test will defeat you.

I did not overstudy.  I was known before for studying at a steady pace, then kicking it into gear in July with 12-16 hour days.  This time, I did not do that.  I took an occasional day off even.  (though to be fair, I at least read through 2 outlines on those days).  I did not make flash cards for EVERY single item, but rather targeted them towards the exceptions -- hey, I already knew the blackline rules.  Studying that many times has drilled some things in my head that I will never forget.

I made charts.... yes, visual charts.  This organized simply subject matters that had a ton of tests (worked really, really well for all the tests contained in Con Law).

Real life examples and analogies were attached to difficult subjects.  I found real facts and case law that painted a picture in my head of the legal principle.  And so when I took the exam, if I remember the facts and ruling of the case, I could come up with the answer I needed.

This was a drastic departure from what I always did before, which was work the traditional program.  That did not work for me.  At all.  Period.  The lesson is that people learn so differently.  And these prep programs are made for the 80% who learn a certain way... I am not the 80%.  I am me, unique.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Now What?

So I passed the bar and I am faced with a "Now What" moment.  I was so focused on passage, that I forgot, or I didn't have time, to think in terms of what now.  There are literally no jobs on the market.  And I have no money for a start up practice.  No do I want a loan for a start up practice.  I have my temp job until mid-December so I have a bit of a buffer.  But now what?  Wow, this is scary.

No, I won't represent you.

No sooner than my news hit facebook that I had passed the bar, then people started crawling out of the woodwork wanting "free" or nearly free legal advice.

There is a common misconception that since I trained in the law, I must know all things of course.  Doesn't matter if I don't have any experience in that area or a desire to practice in that area, it is as if I am offending someone for not helping out.

What these "friends" do not realize is just because I passed the bar does not mean I am admitted.  And just because I am admitted, does not mean that I am set up to practice.  There are bar dues and malpractice insurance to take care of first!!!! Just to name a few.

Here was my favorite one from last week:  Hey, I know we have not talked in awhile, but will you still help me on that small legal matter I have been struggling with?  When I saw who it was from, I about fell out of my chair --- this was from a guy that I "dated" but whom dumped me when I did not pass the second time.  REALLY?  I am going to fall all over myself to risk my license to represent you.  Don't think so jerk!

Then there was a dear friend of mine.  Wants help in an area that I would have to take a SECOND bar to be admitted to, nevermind an area that is highly specialized and technical and an area that I would never practice.  I'd rather have a root canal.  And you know how this friend was going to pay me?  Royalties..... Um, that's unethical.  Not allowed.  Finito.  I know this friend did not know this, and really needs help, but I would be more of a hindrance than a help.

The thing is I have a kind heart.  And there are two women that I will figure out a way to work pro bono for them.  They need it. One I would do for her child.  The other woman, I would do for the pure pleasure of cross examining, intimidating and otherwise putting the screws to the opponent who is someone that I cannot stand.  That one I would think about paying to do :)  Not really, that would be questionable in the ethics areana as well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I need some trial experience....

I have co-chaired two bench tried cases and have appeared before the juvenile court countless times.  And that experience was fantastic.  But if I want to do criminal law, I really need to do some job shadowing.  I need to co-chair a trial or two and walk through the steps that are needed to get the experience so that I can line myself up to be court appointed. Now to just find an attorney who is willing to take this task on.  I mean, the truth is, I would work for free for this "training."  I want to be able to pitch myself and say that I have co-chaired criminal and family disputes as a LICENSED attorney.  Step one of this process is to find that person who can do this with me.

Charactor and Fitness Review

This is honestly something you need to think about before entering law school.  I have copied this from another fabulous blog at, in it's entirety.  Shout out to this author.  I was going to write something similar myself, but the author did a complete and accurate job.

FROM:  Law Student 101:  Understanding the Moral Character and Fitness Application

For July bar examinees, application deadlines are fast approaching.  Those deadlines include the application for a determination of the examinees’ moral and character fitness to practice law.  Some states require that it be submitted simultaneously with the exam application, while others, such as California, allow submission at any time.  Though it can be a daunting form, it is extremely important that applicants take it seriously and answer every question with complete honesty.

Gather Information

First time bar applicants are usually surprised that the moral character and fitness process is such an extensive background screening.  Considering that questions, such as employment history, may require responses going back to the applicant’s 18th birthday, some of the information may be distant memory. How many of us remember our supervisor’s name from a part-time job at the GAP freshman year of college?  It is important that applicants read the entire application before answering any of the questions.  The applicant should gather all of the requested information so that everything is available for references as the application is completed.  Some of the same information may be called for in different questions.

Complete and Honest Disclosure

You cannot get away with dishonesty on bar applications.  Failure to answer truthfully and fully is a sure way to be denied admission.  The examiners really do check all of the information you provide.  This is why in some states a moral character determination can take up to six months (a reason you should not delay in submitting the application).  Telling half-truths and omitting information will only raise flags for investigators and could result in a formal inquiry, during which you will have to appear before the moral character committee and explain problems or discrepencies they uncovered.  The applications allow for attachments or addendums, and if there is an issue the applicant feels will draw concerns, such as delinquent debt or past crimes, he/she should attach an explanation.

History That May Cause Problems

The author of this blog post is admitted to practice in two states, both of which have notoriously rigorous moral character standards and investigations.  From colleagues, I have heard a variety of horror stories, and it seems there is no consistency as to what will invoke a formal inquiry or rejection.  For example, colleagues who left school with massive credit card debt, sometimes delinquent, had no problem getting through the process (because they were completely honest and had an explanation), while another colleague, already admitted in one state, had to submit to a hearing because of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which was entirely related to medical bills—the debts had even been paid in full by the time he applied for Florida admission; though he passed the Florida bar exam on his first attempt, it was almost a year after before he was granted admission.  Nevertheless, there are a few issues that will definitely cause problems, such as crimes of moral turpitude, like theft or embezzlement, violent crimes, and academic dishonesty.  There is not a solid definition for “crimes of moral turpitude,” but rest assured that if the crime involved dishonesty or harm to another person, it certainly would be included.

Applicants always worry about DUI’s and possession of marijuana, two of the most commonly committed crimes in the United States.  These are probably not crimes of moral turpitude.  They are crimes of poor decision making.  Check with your state bar examiners.  Depending on how recent the crime was committed, it may not be a concern.  However, if the applicant failed to complete the sentence, he/she will have a difficult time being approved.  Again, complete disclosure is necessary– failture to disclose a DUI for example, is a sure way to delay the approval process.  As for crimes committed during adolescence for which adjudication was withheld or a plea of nolo contendere was entered, read the question carefully.  The question “have you been convicted of a crime” is very different from “have you ever been charged with a crime.”

Debt is another area that bar applicants worry about.  Again, there is not a consistent approach among the states, or even within a state.  Bar examiners know that every law student in America leaves school with substantial student loan debt and, often, significant credit card debt.  The bar committees want to make sure that you are responsible with debt.  Thus, delinquent or “charged off” credit accounts may draw further questions, but even those can be overcome with an adequate explanation and a plan to solve the debts.  However, take as caution the case of an Ohio bar applicant.  Recently, the Ohio bar denied admission to a man who had defaulted on student loans and had $16,000 in delinquent credit cards.  The irony, of course, is that without bar admission, he can’t work as a lawyer, and without work, he will never be able to clear the debts.

Follow Up

Most states require that applicants continue to supplement applications for a period of time, usually six months.  Don’t neglect this duty.  If you are requested for an inquiry, consider hiring an attorney with experience in bar disciplinary matters.

Finally, be aware that the cost of the application is far from the only cost you will incur when completing the application.  It may be necessary to gather official transcripts from colleges, copies of court records, credit reports, driving license abstracts, MPRE score reports, etc.  These all cost money to obtain.  You should also submit the application via FedEx, UPS, or certified mail so that you will have delivery confirmation.

Good luck!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What would you like to know?

I have been sitting here racking my brains on trying to figure out what I could post next and drawing a blank.  Once I have that first attorney position or start interviewing, well there go, easy stuff.  But what interests you to know now?  Are there questions that you have about the bar?  As you all know, I am now an expert at taking the bar.  What can I answer to help you along with your journey?  Drop me a line either in the comment section of this post, or email me using the button at the upper right hand corner.  The point of this blog as always been to encourage other single parents thinking of going to law school.  Encouraging YOU makes me feel encouraged.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Let's Talk Finances

When you fill out your bar application you have to check boxes for late credit payments.  Apparently this is to see if you are financially responsible.  If you have any credit blip you admit to, and you have to admit to it by the way or it is an integrity issue, then chances are there is going to be a character and fitness review.  This is something your law school does not prepare you for.  I know several friends right now whose admission is being delayed until the Board of Bar Examiners can do some digging.

Apparently they ask for a current credit report, a financial affidavit and other facts about why you were late on your payments.  They do not allow you to send in this additional information here in Oregon until after you know that you have passed the bar.  Then you have 3 1/2 days to send back the requested information.  Fun times, right?  Seems that this should be requested beforehand.  If there is a serious issue to bar admission, then how can the applicant actually remedy the issue in 3 1/2 days?

Anyway, all this to say, if you pay your bills on time --- even if you have to go to a blood bank to sell your plasma, then do so please.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Day After......

This morning I woke up and did not believe that yesterday happened.  I think after fighting for so hard the relief feels unreal.  I had to go to my computer and open the results again and look to just make sure it was all real.

After everything was said and done yesterday, I burnt my bar study books!  LOL.  Yes, yes it felt good.  I even took some pictures which I will share one on here.

I have a friend who took it with me that did not pass.  I felt for this person like nothing else because I have been there so many times.  You want to be happy for your friends, but you are left asking that ultimate question:  Why?  Why did they pass and not me?

I have spent a lot of time analyzing why.  Why would God do this when I went to law school out of obedience to the dream that He gave me many years ago.  I don't know that the "Why" will ever truly be answered.  But a dear friend reminded me of a few things of the Why....... my daughter has had to share me with this journey for an awful long time.  And these last two years have been full of turmoil for her... but the beauty is that I was able to be there for her.  My family went through a series of hospital visits, personal issues, pregnancies and other things where I had the time to assist.  I was there to take care of them, to love on them..... in ways that if I had passed, there is no way I could have been there.  If for only those reasons, in the bigger scheme of the cosmos, I did not pass, then it's okay, I am at peace with it.

I write this to say to all:  If you find yourself in my position, please don't give up.  There is likely a bigger purpose in the journey that you need to learn.  I am still learning and analyzing mine.  Someday I might even be grateful for the lesson.

Willamette's 3 + 3 or BA/JD Programs

What I would have given for this opportunity when I started my journey of going back to school.  Shaving off a full year of schooling and the cost associated with that would have been phenomenal!!!!

Willamette's College of Law has partnered with both the undergraduate programs at Willamette and with Oregon State to offer a program where you complete your needed undergraduate credits by the end of your junior year and then enter into the College of Law.  Once you complete your first year of law school, you get your BA from your undergraduate school and you are on your way to a law degree as well.

Admission into either of these programs does NOT guarantee admission to the law school.  An applicant still must apply to the law school, take the LSAT, and have a applicable GPA.  But it's doable, and it is less time to complete... which is something that helps when we think of managing our time, how much time we are out of the work force and so on.  I would have gratefully leaped at the program.  I was not too keen on the whole get a liberal arts major.  I took a lot of classes that were time fillers (mostly electives).  This program would cut some of these out.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I have stayed pretty quiet on the blog front for so many reasons.... but one critical one was studying for the bar and then trying not to freak out.  This is a multiple time I have taken it.

But my dear readers --- today I found out I PASSED THE BAR!  That's right.  I am Lisa Wright, esq.  That feels so incredible to be able to type and announce here.

So how did I do it?  I focused almost exclusively on MBE stuff.  I used Kaplan (AWESOME, BTW) and I used Benchprep..... both programs have 1000's of questions and they tear the answers apart.  I also bought a book "Starting your campaign for the MBE" written by a law professor and bar grader...... best book ever.  I found some of the mistakes I was making.  I learned to find the red herrings very, very fast.

So October 4th is the big day!  As I embark this next journey, I am going to try so hard to chronicle what is going on.

For now, I am working in the admissions office of the College of Law at Willamette.  I am going to write some things about some of the AWESOME programs they have started there that I think are great for single parents.  And I will write about job hunting, possibly setting up a practice, and the mentoring process in Oregon.  There's a lot to talk about.... ALOT.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Federal Bases Are Alien Planets....

Some observations for spending a few days with my sister at Fort Carson.  The most staggering is how by entering the base, you basically check the Bill of Rights, I kid you not.  The thought that by virtue of coming on base, I shuck so much of my rights scares the poo out of me.  And realizing that that suspension of rights dates back to a court case during world war II, when we were under attack, startles me.

Did you know that an MP can search you without probable cause?  Oh yes, yes they can.  In fact, when you enter the gates it gives you a list of all the searches that you are subject to.

On the converse side of that, you could basically hide on base from state authorities.  So a few years ago, a state issued search and arrest warrants for a soldier who lived in the barracks of a base.  He was suspected of molesting a child.  The authorities believed that part of the crime was perpetrated in the car owned by the soldier and the state wanted to conduct DNA testing and a forensic search.  The base would not allow the state onto the base to collect the vehicle or to interrogate the soldier.  The state had to go through a long, complicated process to get a special warrant from the federal government that forced the bases hand.

When the soldier later pled guilty to the charges against him in state court and was sentenced, the base would not accept the guilty plea.  The powers that be on the base allowed for a court martialing practice that cleared the soldiers name of any and all charges as far as the military was concerned.  He was allowed an honorable discharge and when his time was served, he was later allowed to re-enlist at a lower rank, but still received credit for the previous time he had served.

So while a child's life was ruined, he got a short time out and when he was out a few short 14 months later, he was able to resume his life...... Including being transferred overseas where there are no sex offender reporting laws.

So while we civilians risk giving up our liberties, those soldiers are far better protected --- even when they shouldn't be.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Royalty vs the Common Child

A friend of mine the other day made a great observation.  On Friday of last week, a magazine published topless photos of Kate Middleton, or as we have come to know her, Prince William's fashion forward and lovely wife.  These pictures were obtained due to a security lapse while the royal couple were vacationing in the south of France.  Fast forward to Tuesday, a mere 4 days later, when a French court ruled that the publisher must take down all photos, must return all digital photos, prints, stills or any other replica to the palace to protect her privacy.  A daily fine of 10,000 euros accrues for every day that the publisher refuses to turn the photos over.

Why is it that we protect and treasure the image of a princess to such a degree?  Society and governments were concerned about privacy and the upset.  And yes, it is sad that the privacy of this couple was breached.  However, let's remember she was an adult who chose to get one with nature, knowing full well what risk she took by doing this.

My friend, the one who made the observation, asked why we can't do that for exploited children?  Why is it that the pornographer's "rights" and "privacy" is more important than the innocence, safety and well-being of a child who has been exploited?  Why did it take only 4 days to stop the further publication of tasteless pictures of a princess, but prosecution or the succession of child pornography is ongoing?  I realize that the fact that there are ways to hide on the internet a poster's identity.  I realize it is hard to identify the child at times.  Yet I think as a society and with evolving technology it should be easier to find these predators.  Yet in the US, privacy issues overrule the child's right to not be exploited.  And that is sad.

So is this a question of money?  Is the fact that Princess Kate has money and prestige why the French courts moved so fast?  Is the fact that these children are usually victims of poverty that we shrug and turn away?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Getting Healthy

One of the things that is universal about college, and ESPECIALLY law school is this:  You pack on pounds.  Seriously.  I put on 20 pounds during my three years at law school and noticed that quite a few of my peers did the same.

Why did we do this?  Simple.... We are so busy that making a plan on what to eat, or planning ahead, becomes impossible.  The law school has vending machines, a cafe, and a coffee shop --- what more do you need?  On top of that, many of us crave sugar and fatty foods when we are under a tremendous amount of stress.

Two weeks ago I said enough.  I immediately thought about the foods I was eating and realized that I was going to kill myself if I did not make some changes.  I eliminated processed sugar and flour from my diet.  As soon as I did this, miraculous things started to happen.  Endless energy, no more headaches, and the 7 years of insomnia?  Gone. 

Strangely enough, contacted me during this time with a link to their website.  In the coming days, I am going to review a few of their products.   Check out their website for special offers.

I just got my package from them yesterday.  I was concerned because their were not ingredient listings on the website, but I am happy to report that there is no processed flour in the ingredients and sugar is far down on the list as well.... so now I just need to make some and review!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

McDonald's Coffee: The truth about the infamous lawsuit

The other day I pulled through McDonald's for their $1.00 soda and a $1.00 McChicken (I know, horrible for me, but I needed quick and very cheap).  "Welcome to McDonald's.  Would you like to order a free coffee today?"  I sat there dumbfounded.  Free coffee?  Really?  Apparently from March 12th through the 23rd, you could get a free coffee at McDonalds.

Why was I dumbfounded?  The idiocy of a corporation and the belief that all people would not know the FULL FACTS of the Coffee lawsuit if the 90's.  In fact, amongst my non- law school friends, this remains the most misunderstood award in tort law history due to a political smear campaign.

So, let me make you aware of the facts as they were:
1.  Normal coffee that you brew at your house is approx 135 degrees.
2.  Corporate McDonald's policy was to brew at 185 degrees, +/- 5 degrees.
3.  McDonalds was aware that this degree of heat would, in fact, burn a customers lips, throat, and mouth.
4.  McDonalds had been warned several times that the heat was too high for safety.  There had been other burns, from other customers.  McDonalds refuse to lower heat, stating their customers were often driving and wanted their coffee to still be hot when the reached their destination.  McDonalds had documented a long history of the severity of this problem.
5.  At 185f, the heat would cause SEVERE burns within 2 to 7 seconds.
6.  The plaintiff was a grandmother and 79 years of age.  She purchased her drink as a passanger in a car.  She was dressed in sweatpants.
7.  She took the top off to add cream and sugar.  The car was parked.  As she took the top off, the cup, the entire contents tipped in her lap.
8.  Her sweatpants absorbed the hot coffee, holding it to her skin, and she suffered 3rd degree burns over 6% of her body.

The jury awarded the grandmother, who had to have several painful skingrafts, what amount to 2 days coffee purchases (2.7 million), but the judge reduced the award of punitive damages to 480,000.  She also received money to pay for her medical bills and pain in suffering in the amount of 160,000.  After the trial, McDonald's dropped it's corporate policy and coffee was brewed at 155 degrees, which allows for the coffee to cool and avoids serious burns.

A woman who suffered serious burns...... And if McDonalds can offer free coffee for 10 days, can you imagine?  For some reason I found this campaign ironic and absurd.  McDonald's fought tooth and nail against a serious injury when the facts pointed to that their policy was dangerous.  I find it turning my stomach, that 20 years almost to the anniversary of the severe burn, McDonald's can give their coffee away from free.  While the lawsuit changed their corporate policy, and gave them what results to a little pat, shrug, and poke of the elbow "don't do that again," the ones that lose out on this are really the plaintiffs.

Why did the Plaintiff lose out????  Simple. I am not talking about the grandmother.  I am talking about future plaintiffs.  The conservative right, has used this case erroneously as to why there should be tort reform.  This case is the "banner" case of the argument about frivolous lawsuits.  Yet, how often do we hear the truth?  We don't.

Perhaps I write this because I am clearly starting to see how mega corporations like McDonalds, lobby to great effect against the little guy.  And it is starting to make me feel sick.  Because they use this public sentiment to lie to us, to deceive us, into believing something that is only partially true.  In this case, the lady spilled her coffee and she must of known it was hot!  There is a warning on the top of the coffee cup after all...... what one does not expect is to have any more than a mild red spot and an ouch -- we don't expect to have 3rd degree burns.  But we the public do not remember the FACTs, we remember the SPIN.

Well I remembered.  And said NO, to that cup of coffee.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Health Condition

Again, I have not posted in so long.  I have been ill.  From the last post, until now, things have not been a picnic but rather a small, slow nightmare of learning what happens when people are unemployed and uninsured and have a health condition.

For the past several years, my doctor has been treating me for TMJ.  I would get extreme pain in my ear and jaw particularly during times of tremendous stress.  In October around the time of the last post that I made, I was convinced I needed an extraction of my back molars.  I figured they had cracked from all the clenching that I did with my jaw.  I was in tremendous pain.  Ultimately the pain faded a bit.  I had no health insurance and no income, so having teeth pulled was last on my list.  I figured I would baby myself along and deal with it.

In November I was standing in Blockbuster when it felt like someone hooked up jumper cables to my teeth on my right side, upper teeth and just cranked it up.  I actually felt giant jolts.  After an hour or so, it stopped.  A few days later, it happened again.  After an hour it stopped again.  This repeated a few more times until around the 10th when the jolts were followed by the feeling of someone hitting my face with a metal bat.  This lasted 5 hours.  5 hours of the worst pain in my life.  Worse than childbirth..... way worse.

On the 16th of November, it came again.  Worse.  6 hours of pain had me a screaming, crying mess.  I told my mom that she had to take me to the ER or I was likely to hurt myself to end the pain.  Crying actually hurt my face.  Tears made me feel like razor blades were slicing my face open.  The cold air outside hurt even more.  I had never felt anything like this in in my life.

I got to the ER and was admitted immediately -- no waiting in the waiting room for a room to open up.  My blood pressure was 185/79.  I actually almost passed out while they were taking my vitals.  I waited for 2 hours to see a doctor (when pain is not visible, you are last in line to be seen).  The ER doctor and a on call neurologist broke the news to me:  I was suffering from a chronic pain condition called Trigeminal Neurolgia.

Trigeminal Neurolgia, hereafter TN,  is a condition in which the largest nerve in your face misfires and sends pain signals to the nerve even from just the slightest touch.  This condition is the known in the medical community as the most painful condition known to medical science.  Those that suffer from it have coined it the "suicide disease" because many who suffer from TN actually take their life.  There is no known cure.  Actually, to make things better, doctors and experts do not know why it happens.  I was told I needed an MRI sooner rather than later to rule out a tumor or MS.  With no health insurance, I chose later.

The first line of treatment is anticonvulsant medications that you would treat epilepsy with.  Unfortunately, these medications have awful side effects and take a long time to build in your system.  My search began.  My primary doctor was not skilled in this area and recommended a trip to a neurologist.  Something I could scarse afford.  After much research I found that OHSU had an expert in the field on their  payroll.... AND a financial assistance program.  I applied and was accepted for financial assistance.

In late January I saw my neuro... who confirmed the diagnosis and referred me to an MRI.  He also made it clear I could not take the bar exam as scheduled in February.  It would be a few more months, by his calculation, before we had this condition under control. I was devastated, but determined to be treated.

The MRI came back clear of tumors and MS.  For that I am thankful.  But the pain was tremendous for a long time.   I am happy to say that the pain is for the most part controlled now and the side effects few.

This is a scary condition to have.  One that usually hits those in their 70s and 80s.  But I am glad that there are places like OHSU that give assistance to people like me, who are caught in the system.