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?