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Archive for the ‘Lawyer Problems’ Category

Another way to live

In and other uncomfortable topics, Friendship, home, Lawyer Problems, Uncategorized on May 4, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Some of my readers may know that I have three blogs: one for personal stuff, one for business/professional stuff, and one for makeup stuff.

That actually does not make sense.

At one point in my life, I was doing these three things separately and trying to juggle all of these different aspects of my life: my personal struggles, my growing knowledge of the legal entrepreneurism, and my love for color.

But, I’m all one person. All of those aspects are pieces of one thing. So, I’m combining my blogs into one blog. It’s foolish to believe that my clients, my colleagues, my family, and my friends, and absolute strangers won’t somehow find out about my other pieces–particularly in this uber-linked-to-each-other’s-faces era.

My life is chaotic, and I’m done attempting to make it look otherwise.

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Learned of Love

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Lawyer Problems, Love and Romance, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on January 27, 2014 at 5:59 am

I’ve been sick for a few days–a lingering health malaise that still isn’t cleared up. Right in the middle of all the deadlines of a federal case. And, without the placations of the Prozac I’ve recently quit cold turkey.

Today, my law partner boyfriend (LPBF for short….let’s at least pretend at anonymity) brought me the case file for that federal case in which a deadline is currently looming. It didn’t take long for me to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. It took even less time for me to start taking it out on him in pounding, snipping, cutting words when we had a telephone call about the case. I realized what I was doing and that I was in the wrong. But, somehow, that didn’t stop me. Oh, did I mention that this wasn’t the first time I’ve done that? This wasn’t the first time I’ve done that to LPBF.

After an episode of Downton Abbey tranquilized me (I think it’s their lovely accents), I recognized that I was being an unmitigated douche bag to a man who taking up the slack for me on my case so that I can get healthier. Of all the people who deserve my choice words, he wasn’t one of them. But, he was the easy target. He was the one talking to me at the time.

So, I apologized and asked him why he hadn’t called me out on being so snippy. His response taught me to love him even more:

“Because I love you and now is not the time to argue.”

That response is packed with love and acceptance and patience and focus and passion. Love is a miracle that can happen everyday we wake up and it doesn’t need to come with flowers or chocolate or jewelry or flamboyance–but, somehow, it manages to come in the way you need it. But, it has to be nurtured. I’ll have to get over my unnecessary use of cutting words. That’s not nurturing. It will take love, acceptance, patience, focus, and passion to break that bad habit. I already know someone who can teach me how to use those.

Love is a miracle. I learn something new everyday.

#UMWFG: The Dream Maker

In Education, Happiness, Law School Problems, Lawyer Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on October 28, 2013 at 3:23 am

That’s exactly what your brain is: a dream maker of the sleeping, waking, and life-long varieties. As a teacher, one of my favorite things was watching a student formulate a dream and begin to articulate that dream and take steps toward that dream. My 7th graders are now 11th graders, and it is so  cool to see them pursuing fashion, writing, graphic arts, computer science, music, dance, engineering, skateboarding, sports, public speaking, and general happiness. Encouraging and equipping young people to make dreams and pursue dreams is THE most important function of our education system.

But, I digress. The point is to use my words for good. At this moment, I want to celebrate by using my words for good. I found out Friday that I passed the Georgia Bar examination. I get to be an attorney 🙂 I have wanted to be an attorney since at least the fourth grade and probably since the first grade.

I am blessed to say that I didn’t reach this dream by accident, by luck, or particularly quickly.  While I am not insane enough to believe that every human being should become a lawyer, I am insane enough to believe that EVERY human being needs a dream to chase. More than that: every dreamer needs encouragement and the occasional push while hunting down that elusive and nearly invisible dream.

Here are some mental and emotional obstacles that I have encountered on my continuing journey:

1. I AM NOT TOO OLD. “By the time you graduate, you’ll be 32!” They said. But, I was going to be 32 either way, right? Don’t listen to this one.

2. I AM NOT TOO YOUNG. Ok, ok, ok. So, yes. LOTS of young people need to experience life before honing in on THE DREAM. But, I knew in high school that I wanted to major in political science and minor in history. I took a long path trying to make “sure” that the dream I had was the right dream. There is no “right” dream. There is my dream and there are the dreams that don’t belong to me.

3. THERE ARE NEVER TOO MANY PEOPLE.  “There are so many lawyers out there already. Do you really want to be one more?” They said.  Incorrect thought process. There is not another me who is already a lawyer. There is a reason that God dropped a love of politics and law into a 6 year old’s heart. I may indeed be one of thousands of lawyers, but I have a purpose that is unique.

4. MY DREAM IS NOT THE ONLY DREAM. There’s no need to trample someone else’s dream. That’s just rude. I have no right to do it to another any more than that other has the right to do it to me. It all comes down to the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

5. SOMEONE ELSE’S DREAM IS NOT AN INDICTMENT OF YOUR DREAM. “Oh. A lawyer? Well, that’s not my thing. I’m perfectly ok with ______.” A few times when I told others that I was quitting my job and going back to law school, I was met with a chill. I don’t think that law is the best profession. Law is simply the best profession for me. The fact that I chose law doesn’t mean that I think that anyone else should choose law. Be careful of people who meet your dream with this reaction; before you know it, you might begin to think that your dream is TOO big, TOO impossible, and TOO impractical for you to chase.

6. DREAMERS NEED COMPANY. But, not just any company. I had to surround myself with like-minded dreamers. Dreams are tiring, exhilarating, elusive, and tangible all at the same time. That roller coaster can put pressure on partnerships and friendships if both people don’t know first-hand the weight of a dream. I lost friends and made friends during law school. The making of friends felt great. The losing of friends was wrenching.

7. SHORT TERM SACRIFICE IS CONTINUALLY IN THE WINGS. Dreams are time-consuming and/or money-consuming affairs. Before I started law school, I was focused on paying down my loan from getting my master’s degree and also with saving money in general. So, no fancy handbags; no new cars; no elaborate vacations; no fancy crib. I didn’t have time to plan all my meals. Regrettably, I ate many meals from the snack machine. I didn’t have the money to get the AC in my car fixed right away, so I hot-boxed my way through town for a few weeks. I had to cut down on my church commitments. But, now I know that none of it was permanent. I can lose weight. I got my AC fixed (eventually). I have more time now to spare, and I have learned that new cars, vacations, and houses are not the causes of happiness but are rather the least important symptoms of success. Fancy handbags, I must admit, are my weakness.

8. LIFE IS A WONDERFUL EXPERIMENT. There is no guaranteed outcome for which every human being should be gunning. When I was teaching, I would spend my weekends grading papers and being angsty. Monday morning was a bad time, topped only by the first day after Christmas break. I was overwhelmed and exhausted most of the time. To put it bluntly, I was unhappy. Not because teaching is a bad career–but because I wasn’t meant to be a teacher for any longer than the 4 years that I did it. There is nothing sinful in changing directions. There is no shame in admitting that you need to make a new choice.

9. IT’S RARELY ABOUT THE MONEY. I won’t say never. But, I never cared much about being filthy rich. I’m not sure why, it just never was something I was into. I didn’t go to law school to make piles of money (though, to be sure, if was not blind to the fact that I could make piles of money). When the economy tanked and legal jobs were hard to find and salaries fell to bargain basement levels, I wasn’t *quite* as disappointed as I might otherwise have been. Pablo Picasso, Sigmund Freud, Marie Curie, Thurgood Marshall, Nelson Mandela, Shirley Chisolm and Coco Chanel didn’t chase their dreams for the money (though money several of them made). Money is just a symptom of chasing and catching the dream. Money itself isn’t much good–unless (obviously) you plan on having a Scrooge McDuck-style money tidal pool.

10. TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE. Don’t change your dream because of someone else’s actions or words. Don’t fail to change your dream because of someone else’s actions or words. Your life is entrusted to your keeping alone once you reach adulthood.

Horatio and Penelope and Olivia

In Lawyer Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on August 26, 2013 at 3:51 am

I LOVE crime drama television shows. It seems counterintuitive, right? Bleeding heart liberal lawyer who believes in the importance of organizations like the Georgia Innocence Project DIGS seeing (fictitious) bad guys slammed into the hoods of police cruisers, cuffed, and read something loosely based on Miranda rights. Lots of lawyers like crime shows because…..

1. The ubiquitous minority and/or female assistant district attorney gets to do basically whatever the hell s/he wants. Wire tap? SURE. Fight the power by shouting at your douche bag racist/sexist/classist boss? SURE.

2. The bad guy or gal is ALWAYS in the list of suspects. ALWAYS. And, like, you know s/he did it because you saw him/her commit the crime right after the opening credits.

3. It’s totally ok if the bad guy/gal gets roughed up because you totally just saw him/her slash a lady’s lips off her face and make a necklace out of them. Punched in the face? Seems like nothing compared to the torture the (fictitious) victim endured.

4. There are no rules of evidence. During the (unusually long and elaborate fictitious) arraignment, after Jack jumps to his feet and screams “OBJEEEECTION,” the judge furrows her/his brows and says something like this: “I’ll allow it. But, you’re on a short leash, counselor.” Hearsay? More like WHO SAY? Show unreasonably gory crime scene photos to the jury? GO AHEAD. Badgering the witness?! Psshhhh….if the witness didn’t want to get badgered, s/he should have stayed at home.

5. Opposing counsel necessarily hate each other. I mean, they totally hate each other because they dated or they’re from different sides of the track or something like that. This means that any hearing is suuuuuuuuuuper entertaining because everyone objects to everything and chairs get thrown.

6. There is always, always, always a genius on the team. Every television law enforcement team has at least one human member who knows EVERYTHING: the capitol of Montana; the square footage of Hawaii; when the gas station down the street closes; how to calculate the gravitational pull of a magnet on a paperclip (or whatever….). Along that line, every law enforcement team ROLLS DEEP. There are at least four people working every case and they are all well-rested even though they work about 16 hours a day. And, OMG….THE LAB. The lab responds back with analysis reports within about 24 hours.

7. Everyone, everyone is pretty cooperative. Witnesses sing like blue jays on a fresh spring morning (usually because the witness has committed some type of minor crime….).

8. There is always a way to get around (obvious) violations of due process! Yay! Everything is in plain sight, every one felt threatened, everything is a public danger,

9. Physical evidence ABOUNDS. Dude, there are the victim’s fingerprints made with blood that does not belong to the victim! O.M.G. I bet that blood belongs to the killer. Yes! I BET that this killer is already in some database, and we will have his/her name instantly.

10. The bad guy/gal gets it in the end. S/he’s totally off the streets and no longer slicing off lips to make jewelry. FOR THE WIN. Justice. Served. This. This is the part I like. Getting the perpetrator of the crime off the streets. And, in TV world it doesn’t matter how s/he ends up in jail because we all know s/he is guilty as all outdoors. It doesn’t matter if s/he was beaten to a pulp or did not receive Miranda rights. In TV world (and ONLY in TV world), the end justifies the means.

Words with Friends

In and other uncomfortable topics, Lawyer Problems, Race, Somewhat disjointed rant... on August 19, 2013 at 1:43 am

My apologies to everyone with whom I play Words with Friends, What’s the Phrase, and Ruzzle.  I just tried to “calm myself” by playing Ruzzle and found 12 words. That’s bad. Very bad. Particularly for a (to be) lawyer.

I’ve written before about being Black. Today, I realized (after reading an excellent post on Black Girl Dangerous by Mia McKenzie) that I usually preface my posts about race with a little wind-up. A little bit of a running start that says “yes, I’m Black, but I’m not overly pissed off about it and I don’t feel that I’m generally treated unfairly and I’m not trying to be scary and I’m not trying to make you feel like you are racist and, if you are Black, I’m not trying to make you feel like we have to agree and I totally voted for POTUS Obama but not just because he’s Black and I’m smart and well educated and my family was working class and I wear my hair natural except for the times when I don’t and I just wanted to write this post and I felt kind of like I needed a preface and here is the rest of post.”

I’m angry with myself because I have not, in 31-almost-32-years, found a way to be comfortable with being Black and being a Woman and having the opinions that I have.  I always feel like I should explain how I grew up and where I grew up and how I look and how I sound and who my friends are and what my politics are and what my religion is and how all that fits together.

I’m angry with myself because I’M ANGRY. I’m angry that I am angry about being angry–that is to say: I am uncomfortable with my own anger. I’m angry that I code-switch. I used to do it almost instinctively without a thought–and thought I was doing myself and everyone else a favor. I’m now more cognizant of it and more careful about it.  and it hurts me more when I do it. I can feel my mouth slowing down and my “-ing”s getting crisper and my vowels shortening and my body language contracting.

I’m angry that, at times when I force myself NOT to code switch, I feel like I am being a caricature and I feel like I stick out like a rose in concrete.

I’m angry that, at times when I DO code switch, I feel like a traitor. Does anyone else feel like that? I don’t know. No one talks about it. And, that makes me angry. In my suit with my pumps and my briefcase and my clutch bag, sporting my fancy grammar and SAT vocabulary: I still feel like a caricature. You know what a caricature is, right? Sharp lines, exaggerated features, almost realistic but just not quite.

I’m angry that I even have to think about code switching. I’m angry and frustrated and annoyed that I have to evaluate my neck movements, my eyebrow movements, my hand movements, my tone, my inflections, my clothes, my hair to figure out what it all means to the observer.

The observer. Not me.

Twas the night before Bar Review…

In Encouragement, Law School Problems, Lawyer Problems on May 20, 2013 at 2:58 am

Graduated on Friday. It’s Sunday night. Tomorrow, I start bar review. Bar review is a daunting thought. It is true that I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was a kid; there are three final steps. I need to study for the bar, take the bar, and pass the bar. Studying for the bar starts tomorrow. I gotta tell you: signing into the online review site and looking at all documents and the schedule and the syllabus quite frankly overwhelms me. A lot. And there was a time in my life (not so very long ago) when that feeling of being overwhelmed would have sent me to bed (though, in the end, I am going to go to bed…and watch The Wedding Singer).

But, not today.

Today, I made myself proud. I pulled out my calendar and my flash drive and started organizing.

That, and that alone, is what I call progress.

In defense of lawyers

In Law School Problems, Lawyer Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on October 10, 2012 at 3:09 am

It really chaps my hide when someone (and I mean ANYONE) makes a serious generalization about any group of people…particularly a group to which I belong. Of course, being a law student means that I’ve told my share of lawyer-as-douche-bag jokes. But, I’ve earned my stripes.

I would like for the whole world to know that lawyers have not cornered the douche bag market. There are douche bags in every known profession out there. But, for some reason, lawyers are social pariahs. We tear at the fabric of society. To be clear, most lawyers are former (or current) nerds who spend hours in libraries and artificially lit rooms reading–sounds dangerous.

1. Lawyers do talk a lot. Mysteriously, this is a problem only when we are not in the courtroom. Step into the courtroom and clients want you to jump up and shout OBJECTION every few moments. Of course, after the objection, you have to make an argument. Then, the clients want you to do an opening AND a closing. Geesh. Then, for some unknown reason, EVERY client wants to know what is going on with his or her case…this means meetings and telephone calls.

2. Lawyers like to argue. I think that this is for purely economic reasons; the lawyers who don’t like to argue or take adversarial positions don’t tend to get a lot of business.

3. Lawyers are aggressive. I agree. Lawyers could definitely negotiate with insurance companies in a less aggressive way. Yes, there’s no need to be aggressive when the insurance company starts off at $600.00 and the client has $10,000 in medicals (not including missed wages and the need for continuing care). Soft words and warm biscuits will work.

4. Lawyers don’t actually add anything to society. Thurgood Marshall. F.W. de Klerk. Marian Wright Edelman. Maynard Jackson. Francis Scott Key. William Penn. Paul Robeson. Gandhi. Nelson Mandela. Henri Matisse. Alexander Hamilton.  Absolutely. Never. Did. Anything. For. Society.

5. Lawyers only want money. This completely distinguishes the legal profession from other professions. The following professions are all above a simple cash nexus: doctors, dentists, singers, basketball players, dancers, hair stylists, makeup artists, architects, and chefs.

I’ll be honest. Not every lawyer or law student that I know is the person that I’d choose to be stuck on a deserted island with. But, most of the attorneys and law students that I know are incredibly passionate, articulate, and driven people. Some attorneys and law students are douche bags. If, however, you get stuck with a douche bag attorney…..you know what you should do? Fire your attorney.

 

 

Substitute Curse Words…

In Encouragement, First World Problems, Law School Problems, Lawyer Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on September 28, 2012 at 5:01 am

Yes. I have a problem with my mouth. I shall not offer you any excuses. I need to come up with catchy substitutes, though. I don’t LIKE cursing. I KNOW better. It’s not lady-like!

Someone might be tempted to point out the fact that a substitute is not necessarily better than the word itself. My response: imagine I’m behind you and your youngest child/nephew/niece/sibling/mentee/babysitting charge in line at Target. Would you prefer me to yell out “OH, SMURF” if I fall or would you prefer “OH, %!@*#”??? Hmmm??? Yeah, I thought so.

Try out some of these for yourself by filling in the blank: “Who in the _____ let you wear that blouse with those shoes?”

1. Smurf
2. Toola-Roola
3. Ken doll
4. Wide, wide world of sports
5. Blazing Saddles
6. Mel Brooks
7. Huxtable
8. Zuckerberg
9. Cameron Diaz
10. Dita Von Teese
11. Wocka Flocka
12. Flaming glass of whiskey sour
13. Bananas in pajamas
14. Snuffleupagus
15. Lynrd Skynrd
16. One if by land, two if by sea
17. Road Less Traveled
18. Bean Porridge
19. Technicolor
20. Python Print Leggings
21. Inego Montoya

I’m personally partial to #1, #15, and #19. Feel free to steal one of my technicoloring awesome substitutes for your own use.

Networking and Nincompoopery

In First World Problems, Law School Problems, Lawyer Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on September 18, 2012 at 2:56 am

I read a recent post on a blog that shall remain nameless. The post claimed to give advice to 1Ls on how to have a successful first year. Unfortunately, the post did nothing of the sort. It was the sort of post written by someone who stressed out over law school and believes/wants every law student to do the same.

I’m a person who stressed out over law school, spun my wheels, and got stuck in the mud. I’ve had wonderfully triumphant moments and terribly discouraging moments. I do not, however, believe that every law student has to be stressed to the bone in order to do law school successfully. Without further ado, here are some thoughts about a successful law school year.

1. It’s a weed out system. I know that’s messed up, but it’s true. Law school prides itself on being a sifter that separates the potential lawyers from everyone else. It’s a weed out system. Know that, embrace it, but refuse to be ruled by it. If it wasn’t a weed out system, explain why you are assigned 50 to 100 pages of reading a night. Bad advice will tell you that you have to be the highest in your class that you can possibly be. I do think grades are important, but there are other equally important parts of a lawyer’s skill box: writing, speaking, practical experience.

2. You know that random lawyer you met who is a partner at Big Firm, LLP? Let’s be honest. She may not remember you. Even though you gave her your card. Even though you took her card and sent her an e-mail. Networking is not a magical skill that will unlock the doors to jobs and riches. Bad advice will tell you that you should be at some random meet-n-greet every week. Good luck with that. I’m going to go on a bit about this one, because networking is the one that sticks in my craw.

Networking is not the most important thing you can do to secure yourself a job. If you are just going out to meet people in the hopes of landing a job, I honestly believe that you have missed the point. Human beings crave connection and relationships. Believe it or not, lawyers are human, too 🙂 Personally, I don’t look for opportunities. I look for relationships, camaraderie and collegiality. I look for ways that I can truly connect to a person.

3. Professionalism does not mean you have to be stiff. Professionalism is more about your character than your clothing. Your law school colleagues may not remember that Oscar de la Renta suit you own, but they will remember if you cheated, if you were rude, if you tore pages out of library books, if you gossiped too much, or if you didn’t do good work.

4. You need to find a balance between preparation and sanity. Good luck with trying to read every case every night. You’ll be tired, crazy, annoyed, and annoying. Sometimes you need to close the book, cut your losses, and go to bed. If you get embarassed in class for not being prepared….well, I’ve been embarrassed in class on occasions when I WAS prepared AND when I WASN’T. Get yourself some case summary supplements and black letter law outlines.

5. You should not be constantly worried about finding a job. What will worry get you? Nothing. Yes, the economy is bad. Yes, Big Firm, LLP has cut back (severely) on the number of new attorney hires every year. You get the once in a lifetime opportunity of cutting your own path. The sky is literally the limit right now. JDs are branching out into human resources, mediation, politics, insurance, and numerous other positions. The box is no longer there, so you might as well think outside of it.

What other kinds of bad law school advice have you been given?