Law School Graduation Year: 2012
Current Employment Status: Public Information Coordinator at University of Texas at Austin
Undergraduate School: University of Texas at Austin
Undergraduate Major: English
Hometown: Austin, TX
Status: Part-Time Day
3/8/13 - This last week I took off from work to crisscross central Texas with Lori (Assistant Director of Admissions) in search of prospective students for Texas Wesleyan Law. I had been looking forward to this for a while because, hands down since leaving law school, recruiting students is what I’ve missed the most. We had a blast!
We met with pre-law students at Texas State in San Marcos, the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, and then finished up at St. Edward’s in Austin. All three events were different as far as location, number of participants and the format, but there was one consistent thread: everyone we met was excitedly thinking about becoming a lawyer.
I guess I love meeting people at this juncture of their lives because I remember well what it felt like to be in their shoes. I don’t know for sure, but it’s highly likely my face radiated the curious enthusiasm I now see in theirs. It’s so easy for me respond to them because I am flat out excited about my profession and the wonderful, fantastic journey I took through Tex Wes Law.
We met lots of really great kids. I say “kids” because most people we met were more traditional undergrads, but there were a few non-traditional. Too, there were several with families and kids of their own. I think they were pleasantly surprised to know that getting into and through law school with a family and kids is not impossible—after all, I did it. Once they found out that I also did this crazy Austin/Fort Worth/Dallas commute for four years, well, that put some of their concerns in perspective.
I love telling my story and affirming that the way it worked out was not of my doing or choosing. I firmly believe my “law school experience” could have been more conventional and much simpler the way I had it mapped in my head. However, the way it turned out was infinitely more perfect because nobody would believe it if I wasn’t standing there to prove it. This way, I have no problem saying and people have no problem believing that this whole accomplishment was a God thing.
It’s funny, a couple of times—ok, more than a couple, Lori and got lost navigating our way through these three very diverse campuses. We would inevitably look around and one of us would say, “This doesn’t feel right.” Then we’d crack up laughing and re-visit the Google maps. I feel so blessed that never once did things not feel right for me at Tex Wes Law. I hope that something I said to someone I met last week will plant a seed and help nurture the next dreamer.
1/25/13 - I think that last week bar prep went into overdrive. Last Thursday I received an email from one of my friends with the subject line: “Bar Prep is Killing Me!!!” Before I could reply, I got an equally frantic text message from another friend asking that I call her at lunch because she was at the end of her rope; I could totally empathize.
I thought back to what comforted me during my bar prep summer and emailed every hint, trick, shortcut, and positive suggestion I could remember. At lunch I called my other friend and after 50 minutes, she seemed better. Whew! I feel so helpless watching my friends go through the turmoil brought on by bar prepping. However, this most important part of the journey is something only they can overcome. I hope that any words of encouragement I had to offer gave them some assurance.
The trauma of my own bar experience is still very fresh in my mind. I passed a couple of our student workers the other day as one was trying to identify what fragrance the other was wearing. She stopped me and asked if I thought the other smelled like peaches. I took a whiff and said, “Nope. She smells like bar exam.” They looked at me like I was crazy. I correctly identified that she was wearing “eucalyptus spearmint aromatherapy stress relief lotion”. I knew this for certain because that was my scent of choice for all of bar prep. I had the lotion, body wash, pillow mist, candle and car spray. From now on, when I smell that scent I will be transported back to bar prep. Needless to say, the two girls were amazed at the accuracy of my nose!
In other news: On Wednesday I waited for 2 hours to meet Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at a local book store. Regardless of the huge crowd, I never thought of passing up this opportunity. I purchased her memoir and was able to get it signed. In the three seconds I had her attention at the signing table I told her that as a newly licensed attorney it was an honor to meet her. She congratulated me and wished me luck. That was pretty much the highlight of my birthday week. Yes, today is my birthday. My mom is hosting a nice dinner party for me and invited some of my close friends over for a fun evening. I am excited to end this busy week on a high note.
Next week, my friend Lyndsay (fellow alumni blogger) is coming to visit for a few days. I can’t wait to see my wonderful law school friend. We need lots of time to catch up.
1/4/13 - Can you believe it’s already 2013?! I wish I had another week (or two!) off, but at least I’m not starting bar prep this week like some of my friends. Ugh!
Previously, I deliberately skipped bar prep/taking analysis until I knew my own results. However, now might be a good time to share some of what I did to successfully pass the Texas Bar Exam.
First, get organized and stay that way. I posted a huge calendar on the door to my home office so everyone (including me!) could see the seriousness of the task. I wanted a true visual of what I was doing and how much time I had to do it. It listed my BarBri program and my own notes for other assignments that I built into my weekly schedule.
Every Sunday I took a Multistate Performance Test (MPT) under timed conditions. I also downloaded and printed the Procedure & Evidence (P&E) portion of past Texas Bar exams clear back to 2005. I completed three sets of criminal and civil procedure per week and kept the most recent P&E to do on the Sunday before my bar exam. As I worked these, I got better each week and nearly gave myself carpal tunnel!
Weekly study time was 40 hours minimum, but I always hit 50+. I logged my hours daily and added them up at the end of the week—in all, I put in over 500 hours. Studying happened everywhere: bar prep CDs in the car, on my MP3 player when I was without a book, and in my headphones as I fell asleep. I focused on one day at a time, rather than the whole task. This helped to keep panic at bay as the exam approached and more importantly, during the exam.
In short, I was militant about my studying and bar prep. It was the worst kind of torture and took more discipline than anything I’ve ever done, but I don’t regret the level of pressure I put on myself. During the bar exam, as I sat there looking at the materials, it was just ONE more of many MPTs, P&E’s and multiple choice tests that I’d taken all summer. By that time, I knew my enemy and knew it well—it put up a good fight, but nothing I couldn’t handle.
If you want more specific information about my bar prep methods, email me and I’ll be happy to share. I created a bar prep blog where I tracked my process every week; maybe something I experienced will ease some of your concerns and help you reach the next level. Good luck!
12/14/12 - I’ve put off writing this episode of my blog waiting for my attitude to change; it’s a slow process. Things get really crazy this time of year as everyone is trying to wrap up last minute details before the holidays. I totally need the upcoming two-week vacation that we get in higher education – lately, it’s been brutal in open records world.
Sometimes I wonder if this mountain of work will ever become manageable. Before coming here, there was one person handling all the University’s open record requests—ONE. That’s one person for the over 2,000 requests this institution receives any given year. I am awed that this has been possible for so long. My job is to make this team even better and to help address the open records beast which has gotten way too big for its britches.
It’s often a daunting job because I never really feel like I’m managing my day, but more like my day is managing me. Did I mention that “other duties as assigned” is code for “fire fighter?”
I’m still trying to acclimate to the different demands of being at the intake part of open records, as opposed to the final leg of the process. At the System offices, for the most part, I had a set of regular requestors and media that knew me well; we had an understanding. Here, most requestors are new to me and I’m starting from square one.
I can imagine it’s difficult to ask “the government” for information and believe that the answer you receive is honest and forthright; I get that. So I really want to handle each request the best way I know how and hope that each time I do, I’m building a foundation that will earn me some credit with this requestor on the next one. It’s a painstaking process, but I’ve done it before and it makes for such a difference when the requestors know you to be a good steward of the public’s trust. We’re not perfect at this government agency and you’d be hard-pressed to find perfection in any agency—government or not. But, we do what we can with what we have. That’s really the best we have to offer.
The one awesome thing that happened this week is that I finally received my law license sent to me by the Clerk of the Texas Supreme Court. I plan to get this framed and will have it on my office wall for the new year. Speaking of, I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Be safe and see you on the flip side.
11/16/12 - Sure, I received that non-descript tan postcard from the Board of Law Examiners about 6 weeks ago. But not for a second did I believe its message that results were “expected” to post on Friday, Nov. 2. If you’re ready to sit for the Texas Bar Exam and don’t know that results ALWAYS come out just after noon on the day before they tell you they’re coming out, you haven’t been paying attention.
The question of “what will I do on Bar results release day” had been a reoccurring worry. I decided to take the day off work and go to the movies. This way I could pass the time NOT stalking the results page. Besides, I reasoned, at that point my fate is sealed, so I might as well face it on my own terms. I called my best friend a week before and asked if she’d spend the day with me; she readily agreed.
That day, I got up like normal, took the kids to school and drove to Schertz, TX to meet my friend. I wore purple because it’s my favorite color and made me feel royal and powerful; it’s also the color of the law profession. Pretty early I began getting texts from friends wanting to know: “It is up yet? Now? How about now??” That was not helpful.
Letty and I decided to go out for brunch and then head to the movies. I silenced my phone and handed to her for storage in the vortex of her purse. We spent the morning catching up, laughing and nervously trying to ignore the weight of the day. She picked the movie Perfect Pitch (a Glee-type movie) and it was great. I enjoyed the soundtrack and we relaxed.
As the credits rolled she looked at me and said, “They’re up, aren’t they.” I couldn’t speak, just nodded. We walked out into the sunshine—a knot forming in my stomach with every step. We got to her van and she pulled out my phone. I told her to look for a text message from Karla because I trusted that she would report accurately. I watched Letty’s face and it seemed as if time stopped. Then I saw a huge smile appear and she assured me that she didn’t need to find Karla’s message…there were messages from so many people all congratulating me for PASSING THE TEXAS BAR EXAM!!!
The feeling of relief that buzzed through my body at that precise moment is one that I will never forget. I hugged my friend and sobbed like I had been holding back an ocean—because I had. I sent a prayer up to heaven and told my dad: I did it!!! And I know he was happy.
This last Monday, November 12, 2012, I took my oath as a Texas lawyer as administered by the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court. It was probably the most humbling day of my life, the culmination of so much work and sacrifice. Today, as I write this, my dad has been gone one year. All I needed was one more year, Dad. How fast life changes.
10/26/12 - Fall is here! It’s chilly and blustery outside and I’m just a couple of hours away from my Friday night football fix. There are only three more games in the regular season for my son’s high school. We’re 6-1 and have an excellent chance of going into the playoffs, so maybe I can hang onto this season for a bit longer. It’s going by too fast and when this marching season ends my son will only have two more—college is just around the corner. This mom is NOT ready for that.
I spend my days on a college campus and feel like I’m in another world. It seems very different from when I was a student, but maybe I was just as “weird” then as I think these kids are now. (I doubt it!) For one thing, I’m amazed at all the students I see walking around with their faces in a “smart” phone.
I don’t get the fascination and I certainly don’t appreciate the zombie-people that walk around oblivious to the world and the traffic and LIFE. My kids have termed this as mom’s “Anti-Technology Rant,” but that’s not it at all. It’s more like my anti I-Must-Be-Entertained-Constantly rant. Whatever happened to walking down the street and talking to a friend or waiting in line for a movie and, uh…I don’t know…conversing with people or looking at the world or daydreaming?? My kids have smartphones (Not purchased by me!), but I continue to dig in my heels and retain my simple texting phone. I will look at my email on my terms and not be chained to the grid constantly. I also monitor my kids’ phone use so I don’t help create the next zombie generation; it’s a constant battle.
Work is stressful and just when I wonder if I’m in the right place I see a glimmer of affirmation. This week a student worker and I started talking about her struggle to decide on a graduate school. I spoke from the heart and told her that I believe she will be where she needs to be if she is open to what God wants for her. If I learned anything from my journey to and through law school, it was that His path for me is infinitely better than anything I could plan for myself. My student helper and I had a great conversation and at the end she asked where I go to church. She plans to visit there with me on Sunday. That made me happy from the inside out—maybe I’m here for a reason after all.
10/5/12 - Now that I’m an alum, I’m making good on a personal promise to support and promote my law school whenever I can.
Yesterday, our Assistant Director of Admissions and I attended the Southwestern Association of Pre-Law Advisors law school fair on the University of Texas campus. I talked with quite a few prospective students and shared my perspective about Tex Wes. I loved it! This is exactly what I enjoyed most about being a student ambassador; I feel like I have a wonderful secret and am bursting to share with anyone that will listen.
I talked with students, answered their questions and gave my business card to several who were really interested in learning more about Tex Wes. I want them to know that even though I work at the University of Texas, if they want to know more about MY law school, I’m available to meet them one-on-one. I hope some of them take me up on the offer.
This week definitely wrapped up better than it started. While I won’t go into detail, I must say this: I’ve learned that when you do your job and do it well, you will make people angry and maybe even make some enemies. I get that; it’s happened to me before and I guess will happen again. While part of me wants to detail exactly how I was personally attacked this week—just for doing my job—my accuser would get the limelight that he desperately wants. Well, not this time, buddy. Libelous and defamatory though your words are, they are but a whisper in the din of affirmation I get every day from my family, friends and co-workers. I am so lucky to be surrounded by mentors and colleagues that truly know me and value who I am.
Meanwhile: It’s October and that means Bar results are looming. Most days I don’t even think about it, but lately it’s nagging at me like a gnat. I’m still not ready to speak on this (let’s call it, “That which cannot be named”), but I’m cautiously optimistic. I framed my law school diploma and hung it on the wall in my office. I also purchased an identical frame for my law license and left a blank space on the wall where it will fit perfectly. So there it is…I put it out there in the cosmos; I hope the cosmos is listening.
9/14/12 - Since coming back to the University of Texas life has been on fast-forward. There’s a certain comfort level returning to work with people that I knew prior to law school. I’ve also made new friends as well.
One such friend, M.G., and I talk regularly about cases we’re working on and I like her more each day. We are close in age and have similar personalities; I think we’re soul-sisters. At any rate, she makes work fun and we laugh a lot.
Last week, we somehow started talking about what it’s like to be a Hispanic female attorney. M.G. mentioned that once when she walked into court she was mistaken for the court reporter. I recall reading a similar account by other Hispanic female attorneys in a study conducted by the Hispanic National Bar Association a few years ago. She also told me about another time when she attended an employment law seminar and was approached by a non-minority woman who proceeded to tell her, “We’re out of coffee. Can you get some more?” M.G. said she started to laugh and said, “Are you serious?!” The woman repeated her inquiry, but louder as if her request was lost in translation. M.G. then said, “I don’t work here, I’m attending the conference.” The woman said nothing, no apology, nothing…just walked away.
I was shocked hearing this story, but I also greatly admire my friend for her reaction. I don’t think I could have handled that situation so gracefully. I fear I would have responded in anger that this stranger would 1) assume I was part of the service staff and 2) unable to speak English, just because of the color of my skin.
M.G. said that when this happened she’d been practicing law for a while and so she had developed a thick skin. I, on the other hand, still have fresh memories of how hard I worked to get through law school and the bar exam. Admittedly, to have been dismissed as “the help” would have made me really angry and very hurt.
This is exactly the kind of mentoring I need at this point in my career and I have to thank M.G. for sharing such a poignant story with me. I think as female attorneys, and even more so, as female attorneys of color, we need to recognize our worth. Clearly there will be times when others don’t; sad, but true. Thanks to my Bluebird for being such a great friend.
8/24/12 - And…we’re back! I so missed blogging for Tex Wes Law! Thanks to everyone in Admissions for letting me continue chronicling my adventures after law school and post bar exam.
It seems like the bar exam was so long ago; but really, it’s been just about a month. My life has changed so much in a very short time. I think I’ll hold off on a post bar analysis, except to say that I was pretty happy leaving the Arlington Convention Center. I was glad that I made it through and I felt like I gave myself the best opportunity to pass the first time. I had no regrets about any of my preparation, so I pray that it was enough.
The very next day after the bar exam I had a job interview at the University of Texas at Austin and got hired on the spot. I am now the University’s Public Information Coordinator. People who know my previous work experience are probably going, “Wait, that is the same title you had in your last job BEFORE law school,” and that’s true. However, instead of being at the UT administration offices, I’m now at the main campus. While I am working in the same area of the law that I worked before, it’s totally different now. It’s different because I have two little letters behind my name, “J.D”…and, it turns out, that means a lot. I can truly say that my investment in law school has already paid me back in spades. In this crazy economy with 20%+ of Americans without jobs, I was unemployed less than 24 hours after the bar exam. That, my friends, is a blessing of unbelievable proportions.
My best “finding a job” advice to prospective and current students is this: Don’t forget your friends and contacts from before law school, because they will help you bridge back into the working world. During law school I constantly kept in touch with my previous co-workers and my professional contacts. It might have been a friendly email every couple of months, or a Christmas card in December, but they heard from me often. Why? Well not only because we had genuine friendships and professional relationships, but because I knew where I wanted to end up and I knew that keeping these avenues open would help me get back there.
Your best opportunity to get hired is for people to already know you, your work ethic, and your work product. This not only gets you in the door for the interview, but to the head of the line. I am so excited to be working for my undergraduate alma mater and to be putting my wonderful Tex Wes Law degree to good use.
5/9/12 - I’ve known about this last blog for months now and I’ve tried really hard to pretend it’s not there. Well, I managed to get that one sentence typed without crying. I’ve never been really good with goodbyes. I pour myself into a goal, a job, people, and then, life goes on and things change. I hate that.
For the last four years this place, this wonderful place that is Texas Wesleyan School of Law, has been my comfort zone. A part of me is very sad, heartbroken even, that it all has to end. Graduation is supposed to be this wonderful thing, and it is, but what they don’t tell you is that it’s also very anti-climactic. We’ve got one week off and then we’re back in the trenches for nearly an entire summer to study for the Bar. There’s hardly time to bask in having completed my legal education.
Of the many lessons I learned at TexWes Law, the most valuable came from the people I met and those who mentored me along the way. Back when I was searching for a law school home I had no idea what was waiting for me here. I questioned the path that brought me here because I was short-sighted and could not, in my human mind, conceive how this set up would work. In retrospect, this path was clearly made for me and I am awed at the wonder of a God that would not only answer the desires of my heart, but place me in the capable hands of people who’ve shown me love and grace beyond measure.
There’s no way to mention everyone by name, so forgive me if I don’t. A few however must be singled out:
To my friends in Admissions, I love you all. It has been a pleasure being an ambassador for you and for TexWes Law. You all make the hard decisions and I am humbled that you gave me the opportunity for a legal education.
To Barb and Chris: Thanks for holding down the fort for the Deans. Your professionalism and never-ending patience with us students is appreciated.
To Dean Short: I’m gonna miss sitting in your office and always getting such great advice from you. Your compassion when my dad died meant more than you’ll ever know.
To all of the professors along my journey: Thank you for sharing your insight, expertise and good humor. You challenged me, frustrated me, and made me grow. I am wiser for having known you all.
Thanks to Gerald for keeping our school safe with your security team, and always showing up at just the right time to give a girl a lift from the far parking lot.
And to Ofelia, the staff member who emptied all our trash cans and kept the bathrooms neat and tidy: Muchas gracias por su amistad. (Thank you for your friendship.)
To my closest girlfriends Lyndsay and Cristina: I love you girls! You both kept me sane and kept me laughing. Not seeing y’all every day is going to leave a void. You will both be fantastic lawyers one day and deserve all the joy in the world.
I’ve offered to become an Alumni Blogger and so I’m hopeful this isn’t my last one. But if it is, I hope it’s obvious that I will never forget my time at Texas Wesleyan Law. Its farewell for now, as I go on to the next phase: Graduation, here I come!
4/25/12 - I was sure that Lyndsay’s blog endorsement for my election as graduation speaker would have put me over the top, but alas, it didn’t. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone in this my last year of law school, so I’m pretty proud to be one of only two girls to throw my hat in the ring for consideration (along with about 10 guys!!). Though disappointed, I’m not discouraged—after all, I still get to graduate and that’s what’s important! Finally, I see that my experience losing a bid for 8th grade student council president (to Melina Guerra—yes, I still remember her name!) did serve a purpose, since I was much more prepared to take defeat with grace. C’est la vie!
Although last Thursday was my last law school class…EVER, today was the last day of my clinic. Leaving the Justice Center today with four of my classmates, all of us dressed in suits and toting briefcases, was completely surreal. I wanted to walk slower, take in the feel, the smell, the whole vibe of this place so I’d not forget a single moment of the experience. While I got three credit hours for this class, I would have done all the same work—weekly class and 180+ hours in the office—for less. What I learned was invaluable and worth so much more to me than I can even explain; I kind of feel like I got the better end of the bargain.
I ended my stay with the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office by doing one last presentation to the Grand Jury: a murder case. I think this semester I’ve done about 15 presentations from prostitution and drugs, to sexual assault of children, and now murder.
The murder occurred in a pocket of Arlington that is populated by immigrants whose language, culture, and distrust of the police added to the confusion. My case “summary” was 4 pages long and many of the witnesses had complicated names, so I tried hard not to confuse the Jurors. I finished the presentation, and then the prosecutor and I answered some follow up questions. We asked for a true bill on this case, and received just that from the Grand Jury. Now, the criminal prosecution process begins for this defendant….
I’m sure gonna miss that place!
4/11/12 - So the conversation started like this: I’m in the DA’s office with a fellow intern, whom I should point out for the sake of this story, is younger than I am. I’m contemplating my blog topic and ask him for a suggestion. He said, “There needs to be less tomfoolery in law school!” I started to giggle. But when I asked him to elaborate on his comment, I began to see his point.
He said that he was tired of classes that were carried by a handful of people, that more people needed to come prepared, or if they are prepared, they needed to speak up. Then there were little irritants like people who don’t pick up their trash in the library or get up from the tables and don’t push in the chairs (thereby creating an obstacle course in the walkway). While the specific complaints don’t really matter, his point is very important: law school is for professionals and you should take it seriously. I agree.
In retrospect, I think if I’d come to law school right out of undergrad I might have been guilty of some “tomfoolery” myself on occasion. Clearly, we’re all smart enough to be here, but often there is a lot of variation in the students’ level of maturity based on his/her age, experience, and history. This is what I think exasperates my colleague. For the most part, people do tend to mature really fast in law school, even if they came in thinking this is Undergrad Part 2. Otherwise, they don’t last long. There may be plenty of us moms here, but YOUR mom is NOT here to make sure you get things done and meet your daily obligations.
It’s not that this experience isn’t fun, but ultimately there is a level of responsibility that comes along with this career path, and if professionalism doesn’t start in law school, then where? For those of you who just received your “Congratulations! You’ve been admitted to TWU Law” letter, it’s time to put your big boy/girl pants on and act like you’re gonna be a lawyer someday, because the future is right around the corner!
3/28/12 - So I might as well ‘fess up. I didn’t finish my Advanced Torts outline, but I’m about 60% done—which is 60% more than was done before Spring Break. How’s that for looking at the glass half full? It’s still a work in progress.
I’m already sentimental about leaving Texas Wesleyan Law, but there are almost daily reminders that this season in my life is coming to a close. Today was no different.
I got approved for my “Bar loan” which will cover my living expenses during the many weeks of Bar prep when working is impossible. The thought of having to work WHILE juggling Bar prep was terrifying. I did a lot of praying the last couple of weeks and finally left it in God’s Inbox, sure that He’d figure it out, just as He has every detail of my unbelievable law school journey. He did.
Several hours later, I also found out I got a Bar prep grant from the school that will significantly defray the cost of my prep class. I am so very blessed to have always had all my financial needs met just in the nick of time. I truly believe that things move on God’s time and His time is always right, so I am a grateful and humbled girl today.
We had Dinner with the Deans tonight. Over dinner, we had an open forum for students to ask questions of the administration or talk about issues that needed attention. Someone asked about our school’s identity, as in, “What reputation are we building in the DFW legal community?” Our Dean of Academic Affairs began talking about the many new clinic offerings that appear to be on the horizon including Immigration and Employment Law, to add to our Family Law and Criminal Prosecution clinics.
It was all I could do to not jump up and shout for joy. This is just what our school needs and can do well. My time in the Criminal Prosecution clinic has been invaluable; the more students that can participate in experiential clinics, the better. Our identity is being built daily with these programs and I am so excited about our future.
3/7/12 - Every February since I started law school we had at least a couple of snow and ice days off; not so this year. Figures! THIS year I was ready with new shoe spikes that will now probably get used to aerate my spring lawn instead. Sigh.
Apparently, winter has left the building and spring has blown in with a vengeance. It has also blown in some horrific allergens that are making me miserable and putting me in a foul mood. I guess if there’s an “up-side” to feeling under the weather it’s that next week is Spring Break. I can (if I want) lie in a puddle for a week and recover. Not likely.
Actually, next week I’ll be outlining my Advanced Torts class all the way up to current, which is going to be a task. But I’ve now published this as my goal, and so I risk public shaming if I have to come back here and report that I didn’t do what I said I would. I have but ONE course for which outlining is appropriate. How lame am I if I can’t do this?
I will also be planning a preliminary Bar studying schedule using my wall calendar. I met with Professor Chambers today to ask some specific questions about how best to do this. He mapped out a game plan for me and I’m going to get busy on it now. No more audio books on my commute; I’m going back to my law CD’s like I did 1L year. Joy.
So far in my Passing the Bar class, I’m getting lots of really good insight and feedback into taking the Bar Exam. There is so much to review and learn; I’m hoping by starting now I can get significant portions under my belt before prep begins in earnest. Whatever it takes to pass the Bar the first time, I’m going to do it.
Right now though, I’m going to find that “night-time, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, so I can rest medicine,” and hope for a better tomorrow. Nite!
2/22/12 - I know that at some point in my blogging I’ve opined that there is a reason law school is (generally) three years. As I am in the final leg of my part-time 4-year plan I am feeling every bit of the exhaustion of this journey. I promised myself that I wanted to finish strong, and I will, but I have to admit it’s been slow getting started this semester. Seeing as it’s nearly the end of February, I better “get started” quick, huh?
There has also been some sort of viral phenomena circulating among the 3Ls/4Ls. While I thought I was immune, “Senioritis” is dogging me almost daily. I’m enjoying my last semester, probably too much, and feel like I should be stressing out more than I am. Is that weird?
I only have one class for a grade (Advanced Torts) and the other two are pass/fail. I’ve never taken so few classes and while there’s just as much to do, it’s a different kind of busy. In my Passing the Bar class and my Criminal Law Clinic I’m busy “doing” instead of reading about doing. Having had a career before law school, this is the kind of busy I’m more accustomed to—law school busy is a comparatively recent adaptation I’ve had to make in order to survive. I guess this is what it feels like to be comfortable with where I am on the learning curve of my chosen profession and it’s a good place for me. I’ll have more than my fair share of stress in the months ahead. For now, I’m on cruise control.
Next week is the February bar and my friends who recently graduated are in the batter’s box—it’s nearly game time. That means I’m on deck. Up until now it feels like I’ve been weaving through those endless zigzag corrals they have at Six Flags; those fool you into thinking you’re moving, when in reality you’re nearly at a standstill. But that as slow as those lines are, it’s eventually your turn. After these guys go next week, my turn is on the horizon.
2/8/12 - If you ever get the opportunity to attend the American Bar Association Judicial Internship Program, I highly recommend that you do. My friend Liz (1L Blogger) and I spent several days last week at this year’s Program, which was held in New Orleans. I had to miss one day of class, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
This was no ordinary conference full of lengthy lectures - this was a hands-on experience where students could practice research skills, learn how to become a judicial clerk, and network with judges from around the country (and world!). Who better to train potential law clerks than the judges who hire them?
There were five students and four judges in my group, so the student/mentor ratio was fantastic! Over three days, we worked on our research assignment and began locating the relevant law for our judge to issue an opinion on the hypothetical matter. Throughout the process, the judges helped us refine and narrow our focus to find appropriate case law and outline it in a way that was useful for the judge. We also had a workshop where the judges critiqued our resumes and offered suggestions to help make them better. Also, a three judge panel of the 4th Circuit convened right there in a hotel ballroom so that we could hear oral arguments.
Even though our days were full of legal work, we did manage an evening at Café du Monde to enjoy warm beignets and café au lait. On Friday, we inadvertently stumbled upon a movie shoot on Bourbon Street for an upcoming movie - Now You See Me with Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo. Somehow, between scenes, we caught Mark Ruffalo’s attention and he stopped to take a picture with me.
That was a highlight of the trip…UNTIL, I got to see and hear U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speak at our last Saturday session. The man is just brilliant! I had so much fun at the Program and came home with a stack of business cards from new friends and influential people. Definitely glad I went on this wonderful adventure!
1/25/12 - If I ever doubted that I have a touch of claustrophobia, jail has convinced me otherwise. For the second time in my life, I heard the clang of a jail door slam shut with me on the inside. It still gives me the creeps.
We visited the Tarrant County Jail last week for my clinic class. This was my second time in jail - in high school I also visited the one in San Antonio as part of a pre-law program. My impression hasn’t changed: I never want to go there for real. The cells are small and crowded; you can forget about privacy even for the most intimate of functions.
We came into minimal contact with the inmates, but many in booking were in cells with big glass panels facing into the room as we passed. I wondered whether the inmates felt like they were animals in the zoo. I found myself not wanting to make eye contact. Yes, they are there for alleged crimes, but they are still people and it just didn’t feel right to stare at them as if they were part of the tour.
Based on the week I’ve spent at the District Attorney’s office, I think my reaction mirrors their philosophy. They are not there to judge anyone; the job of a DA is first to represent the state and second to seek justice—whatever that may be. Even when “justice” doesn’t mean “conviction,” I think that the right outcome is better than a wrongful conviction. From the caliber of people I’ve met at the DA’s office, I think they’d agree.
On another note: Recently, the Office of Admissions hosted a Blogger/Student Ambassador Awards Dinner, and it was one of the highlights of my time at Tex Wes Law. One of my friends and current alumni blogger had an award named after her: The Lisa Waters MVP Ambassador Award. I received this honor from one of the most special people in my life - Dean Hurst, I will never stop thanking you for seeing in me the potential that other law schools overlooked. I am forever humbled and grateful.
1/11/12 - It’s here. My. Last. Semester. 2012 is already starting out awesome just for this very significant reason. I’m excited that I have 122 more days until graduation (but who’s counting?), however, I still think I need more time to do all there is to do before I go.
Spring officially began this week, but I started last week in Civil Motions Workshop during the Winter Semester. It was fantastic. There were only twelve of us and the professor was Judge Bonnie Sudderth of the 352nd Judicial Court in Tarrant County. All we did was practice oral advocacy, which is exactly want I wanted to do.
Using one of the Judge’s old cases, we argued three motions as if we were the plaintiff and defense attorneys in the matter. Having the class in the Judge’s courtroom after hours made it even more realistic; she even wore her robe. The one-on-one time we got was invaluable and we asked the Judge all manner of questions about what to do and not do in court. It was such a rush standing at that podium and arguing my points. Practice makes perfect, you know!
For my last semester I finally have that three-day school week I envisioned when I started law school as a part-time student. I have only nine hours: Advanced Torts, Passing the Bar, and Criminal Prosecution Clinic with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office. I am nearly giddy with anticipation to see how my Clinic works out. Besides class, I’ll work fifteen hours a week at the DA’s office. I’m not sure yet which division, but it doesn’t really matter. This will be the closest I’ve gotten to being a real attorney.
One thing I didn’t expect is that it’s getting mighty lonely here. Nearly everyone who started with me part-time is gone. More often than not, faces are unfamiliar. My group of close friends is ever shrinking. I guess it’s a sign that my time to move on is fast approaching. Thankfully, a small ray of sunshine in my Torts class: my friend Lyndsay is in there too. What a welcome surprise.
12/14/11 - I can’t believe how things have changed for me, as the end of 2011 draws near. Friday will be a month since my dad passed away, and as a result it’s been pretty subdued at home. This year’s holidays have been relatively low key. Thanksgiving was less elaborate than usual and Christmas will likely follow suit. Nobody is really in the mood and, let’s face it, finances are tight. I’ve done a minimal amount of shopping…mostly for my boys.
My first final, Consumer Law, was the Monday after Thanksgiving. Then I switched between Sports Law and Evidence, with the latter being the most challenging. At least it’s over. Grades will come out…whenever. I’ve got one more semester of law school and nothing is going to stop me now.
The Bar exam is an ever looming reality. On Thanksgiving Day I prepared my exam application and hand-delivered it the following day. I nearly fainted when I handed it over - it’s official. I’ve already heard back from the Board of Law Examiners so I know they are digging around in my background. I’m just waiting for my official invitation to attend the three-day party in July 2012.
Currently, I am back working at the University of Texas System and it’s a good comfortable place for me to be; less stressful than being unemployed or being somewhere new. I sit in my cube and work on any number of assignments that come to me. It’s good “thinking” work and I am left to my own devices. Just what I need. I know I’ll snap out of it soon, but for now, I’m okay with just getting through the day, not being rushed and not having a million things to do.
As I wrap up 3.5 years of law school it is bittersweet. Mostly, I’ve enjoyed my time at Texas Wesleyan Law and would not change my decision to come here for anything. I might wish I could have had this experience closer to home so that I’d not have missed so much time with my family. But then again, perhaps it is because I am so far away from home that I have been able to excel and devote my time and energy to this law school and my studies here. If it’s possible to love an institution, I can without hesitation say I love this place, because it is but a sum of its people.
Looking forward to my last year of law school I’m determined to go out with as big a flourish as I came in. I have several personal goals—which I won’t detail just yet. Some experiences to get to that I have skipped thus far, and new doors that are waiting to be opened. I will squeeze all this into my new three-day spring schedule that will allow me to cut my commuting down to one weekly trip. (And my little Toyota Yaris says, “Amen!”)
I still believe everything happens for a reason. If you want anyone to expect great things from you, you must first expect great things from yourself. 2012…I am ready for you and hope you are ready for me. It’s been a long time coming.
My heartfelt thanks to my many friends, (i.e. colleagues, classmates, professors, administrators and staff at Texas Wesleyan Law), for your caring words and concern for me and my family during our time of loss. But mostly, thank you for being there every day in the big and small ways. Wishing you all a peace-filled Christmas and promising New Year.
11/22/11 - Last Tuesday night, I went to sleep with a heavy heart. My dad was in the hospital and had just been put on a ventilator. By 4 AM, while getting ready for my drive to Fort Worth, we got the call. I cried and cried, torn about what to do. I knew my dad would’ve wanted me to carry on with the day’s plans: go to class and attend an important scheduled meeting at the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office (DA), but I didn’t know how I’d hold it together. My mom convinced me to go. I don’t remember most of the drive to Fort Worth; my mind was elsewhere.
I remember wanting to go to a school dance at 14, and asking dad first because I knew he’d convince my mom; he did. I remember that vast parking lot where, at 16, he showed me how to drive. I recall how patient he was with me driving that old Chevy truck and how, because of him, I’ve gone my whole life a safe and careful driver with not so much as a parking ticket to my name. I remember him running up and down the street along with the marching band —he was one of the dads that hauled the water jugs to make sure we all had enough to drink during those long, hot parades.
As a grown up, we often laughed about the side jobs he used to take—hauling brush and junk for other people. Even when he was working, he’d always stop in time to pick me up at the high school. That truck would come down the street, overflowing with limbs and trash, and pull up in front; I was mortified. I’d rip open the door, fly into the cab and scoot down on the floor board telling him to hurry up and go. Instead, he’d park and look to see who was chasing me—ready to take on anyone who wanted to hurt me. Me: “Uh, dad…nobody’s chasing me, I just don’t want to be seen in this junk truck!” He’d throw his head back laughing. Those were good times.
In the last several years, we started a family tradition of going to see the Yankees play the Rangers every summer. Dad loved that. I would buy the tickets right around this time every year, and tell Dad so he’d be looking forward to it for months—we’d go to celebrate his birthday in May. Last summer was to be our last.
Dad was one of the only people that never questioned my decision to come to law school. He always told me how proud he was of me. At the funeral, many people knew about me because of him; he apparently talked about me a lot. I’m heartbroken that when I graduate in May, he will not be there. I picked up my graduation pictures the very day he passed away. I also went to the DA’s Office and nailed that interview. The following day, I got an email that I’ve been accepted into the DA’s Criminal Prosecution Clinic next semester. There were only six spots available, and on one of the saddest days of my life, I still managed to make my dad proud.
This one’s for you, Dad. I love you. Jose E. Paez, May 4, 1936 – November 16, 2011.
11/16/11 - I want to talk about a touchy subject: Bar results and passing the bar. Results came out November 3rd and I realized that next year I’ll be looking for my name on that pass list. Suddenly, this Bar exam urban legend is very real and very scary. Time feels like sand escaping through my fingers, and no matter how I try to slow its progress, my own Bar exam gets closer each day.
There are plenty of things in life that people can’t understand until they’ve been there - law school is one. For we who experience and survive its challenges, the next formidable hurdle is the Bar exam. I have many classmates who have passed and a few who haven’t. It’s hard to know what to say in the latter situation—there are no words to make it better. The reality is that 88.36% of those that took the exam in Texas passed. But a little over 10% did not—that’s for all law schools; none had a 100% pass rate. No matter what law school you attend, the Bar exam is a difficult beast for everyone and no one is immune from its sting.
It is a misconception that if you get through law school, passing the Bar is easy. Only another lawyer or law student really understands. Those who pass the Bar are listed, by name, on the Board of Law Examiners webpage. I hate that it’s done this way, mostly because Texas Wesleyan is such a small school, so it’s easy to determine who is missing. Imagine if someone took your salary or your list of debts and put them on the web for all to see; that’s the kind of personal invasion I’m talking about.
The Bar exam is not your friend, it’s a beating…as Professor Chambers says, “They want to BAR you from the profession.” All we can do is prepare well, have faith in our abilities, and let the chips fall where they may. If I can walk away from that exam and know that I did my 100% best for 2.5 months of Bar prep and those three days of testing, people can think what they want. I’ll have nothing to hang my head about. Congratulations to our recent Texas Wesleyan Law Bar passers and much love and admiration to those still fighting the fight.
11/2/11 - Like in the movie Jerry Maguire, when Tom Cruise outs himself by writing a manifesto about sports agents making too much money, this semester in my Criminal Law Practicum has inspired me to make a confession of my own: I don’t think I’m cut out to be a criminal defense lawyer.
The class concept is pretty interesting. The professor gave us a CD with tons of files on it; some contain practical information about criminal defense like drafting a client agreement, setting up a fee structure, and resources to use in working up a case. Another huge part of the CD is the material we’re using for the class—an actual case file from indictments all the way through sentencing. Using this material, we are to be the defendant’s lawyer and “work” the case from beginning to end. We have an assignment (or two!) to complete each week that covers some part of the trial—bail setting, various pre-trial motions, opening and closing arguments, etc.
After my initial review of the lengthy case file, I concluded that my “client” is a violent five-time convicted felon—a thief, a robber, and a burglar. In a span of eight years, he was given several chances at probation and blew it every time. Now, I’m to defend him on two counts of aggravated robbery. Because of his glorious history, he’s looking at 25 to life. Depressing. It’s been hard for me to work this case because, frankly, I think my “client” is a scumbag and probably deserves to get life.
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that everyone deserves a good defense—I just don’t know whether I have to be the one that provides it. I guess that’s part of the fun of law school. While we are here in this safe place we can try on many hats. We see what fits and what doesn’t. In the end, if we’re lucky, we find something that ignites our soul with passion and conviction. Speaking of, I have a feeling my “client” is up for a conviction of his own. Not even F. Lee Bailey could get him out of this mess.
10/19/11 - I’ve not said much about my family so far this semester because too much has been going on with school. For the most part, things at home have been the normal crazy that I’m used to. This week is different…
My mom just called to tell me that my dad’s been in the hospital since he collapsed on Sunday. He got airlifted to San Antonio, and after two days there and many tests, they still don’t know what happened. My mom’s cell phone died, so she hadn’t called me until today when they finally got back home. For now, Dad’s doing alright, but we’ll have to watch him closely for a while.
I also learned today that I have some issues to work through with my son’s orthodontist. Because of my time up in Fort Worth, I’ve been unable to be there for most of his appointments and now there’s some question about the treatment that we can’t seem to iron out over the phone. It looks like I will have to skip Thursday’s class so I can be in Austin and meet in person. Sigh…it’s so hard to juggle all these normal family appointments with such a cram-packed law school schedule AND my physical distance from home. This is when I would love to say, “Beam me up, Scotty!” and instantly get from point A to point B.
Most upsetting though is that a very close friend of mine, one that I love very much, tried to commit suicide last week. I can’t tell you how very sad that makes me. Luckily, he didn’t go through with it. We spoke tonight and it was such a feeling of joy to hear his voice and to tell him that I love him. I plan to spend lots of time with my friend so that he never feels that alone again. There are so many beautiful things in this world, so much opportunity and good to be had—nothing and no one is worth taking your own life. I want to dedicate this post to my friend and his second chance.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and thinking of suicide, please reach out for help before it’s too late. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. God bless.
10/5/11 - I have a sign in my home-office: Chaos, Panic & Disorder: My Work Here Is Done! Yep, last Thursday was one of those days. I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry, but for sure, I learned some valuable lessons about assumptions.
My professor needed volunteers to conduct a trial—a prosecutor, defense attorney, and a police officer. Everyone else would play jury. Suddenly, “I’ll be the prosecutor,” escaped from my mouth. Instant volunteer-remorse.
I tried to prep, but with only the police report, I was confused about how to admit it as evidence. It’s clearly hearsay….right?? I composed a list of thirty questions along with my anticipatory objections and thought I was ready.
Wrong! Turns out, all the rules of evidence apply EXCEPT hearsay. The professor purposely neglected to identify the officer, but I assumed it was the one that wrote the report. Wrong, again! It was a “reader” –someone unrelated to the case (so that his statements can’t be used later for impeachment); he won’t even attend the trial. My whole game plan fizzled. Uncomfortable? YES!! But better this occur in class and not in a real trial. The defense attorney was just as confused, but the “judge” prodded him along as to when he should object.
Later at work, Randy had me call the District Attorney (DA) to ask about getting documents from their file for use on our civil case. I called, got transferred a few times, and was told to talk to the attorney on the case. I asked for the phone number, got it, and confirmed that it was for the DA. I called and, wow…he answered. I began telling him what we needed and Randy came to take the call. In seconds he mouths to me, “This is the defense attorney.” The color drained from my face; I’m mortified. Randy salvages the call and then tells me that this is a good learning experience. He explains how he knew he was not talking to the DA and how, as a novice, there’s no way I’d have known. In this teachable moment, he reminds me to always confirm the information I get from others. Even though you should be able to rely on what they say, people make mistakes.
Moral of the story: There’s always room for dessert, especially if it’s humble pie.
9/21/11 - Alright, I can finally talk about it: MPRE scores came out. Praise God, I passed with flying colors! I would have been surprised to fail, but you never know. In my mind this was “the state of TEXAS” standing between me and a passing score, and I really wanted to pass the first time. I’m so glad this is done. I’m starting to see signs around school about prep classes for the November MPRE exam and I just smile.
My 3L bar card arrived, so I’m official! I promptly filed my first lawsuit a few days later. Then I called the client, introduced myself, and discussed the status of her case. She was very happy to hear from me and I was amazed at how easily “I’m the lawyer working on your case,” just rolled off my tongue. Next, I’ll prepare the medical billing affidavits and begin reviewing another case set for trial in October.
A heartfelt thank you to: Emily, Doug, Julie, Gloria, and Ruth. These folks in Admissions, Financial Aid, and Student Services made it possible for me to timely complete a complicated scholarship application. I needed so much documentation that I doubted I’d make the deadline, but when I asked for help I was received warmly and with a smile. I don’t know that they realize how much their efforts are appreciated, especially when one of us students comes running in needing something done fast. This, my friends, is when it pays off to be in a small school where people know and care about you. It’s not just a job, it’s a family.
I must’ve been running on positive energy last week - when I went to hand-deliver the application, a stranger came to my rescue. After failing to find an open meter, I pulled into a parking lot (with zero cash in my wallet) and appealed to the attendant’s mercy. He graciously let me park for free. When I came back, he was gone. Angel? I have no idea, but if he wasn’t, he sure acted like one. Yup…things have been pretty good here lately.
9/7/11 - This week is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I suppose we all remember where we were. I was eleven days into a new job at the University of Texas System. I had a good friend in New York then, and I recall trying to call him on my cell phone with trembling hands. Between busy signals, the calls to his work and cell phone went unanswered. I finally found him at home in Queens.
My call broke the news. He flipped on the television and we silently shared the collapse over telephonic miles. As I sat in my office looking at the beautiful Texas flag flying outside my window, I didn’t want to hang up. I breathed a quiet prayer of thanks that I found my friend. Many others, I know, never found theirs.
Later, a wave of dizziness passed over me when I remembered that right before I got the job at UT, I had been actively seeking to relocate to NYC. I sent many resumes to the East coast, and once spoke to a recruiter from Morgan Stanley who wanted to interview me. Although they wouldn’t pay for me to relocate, he told me to keep his information and to call and schedule an interview when I got there. Morgan Stanley occupied no less than twenty floors in Two World Trade Center, the highest being the 74th floor; United flight 175 hit right at floors 77-85. I wonder if the man I spoke with made it out; I wish I remembered his name.
That day changed my life. That was when “homeland security” came into being and when my job at UT, protecting sensitive documents from release, took on greater significance. That’s when I found out that sometimes the greater good is truly greater. That’s when I decided I would do my job so I could become one more brick in our country’s wall of defense. As a future attorney, that’s the kind of job I want—one that makes a difference, one that means something. For all its imperfections, America is still the best country on earth.
8/24/11 - Although I know intellectually that no amount of planning ever guarantees a plan’s flawless execution, I’m convinced that the Law School Universe seizes on this fact and exploits it at every given opportunity.
So much for thinking that getting a new laptop two weeks before school would save me some time. Nope. I ended up returning it yesterday because my pre- installed software was corrupt. After spending hours personalizing my computer and setting up my files, I ended up back at square one last night. The domino effect was that it put me behind on reading for today’s Consumer Law class, which put me behind reading for Evidence this afternoon. Ugh! At least the store gave me no hassle with the exchange. Good thing, because I would have had to go all “Deceptive Trade Practices Act” on them. Well… whatever I could muster after only one class period. Still, I was ready for battle. Thankfully, I got to skip the drama.
I’m still blogging at the law firm for Randy as I did last semester, but now I’m also going to work with another solo attorney there, Coby. I wanted trial work so they both agreed to sign for my 3L bar card. Coby gave me a file yesterday, a personal injury case I can work from beginning to end. I’ll be drafting the petition, the discovery, and the affidavits—everything. When my card comes in, I’ll be able to work with the client, conduct depositions, and appear in court. I feel like a kid with a driving permit! It’s exciting to think that once I get that bar card, I will be the “attorney” handling the case. It was kind of funny to see Coby’s face when he gave me the file. He just grinned and said, “You’re gonna take that file home and read it cover to cover, then you’ll have a million more questions, huh?” Yep. By the time I’m ready to move on this, I’m gonna know that case file as if I had been sitting in the car with the client. I can’t wait!
8/17/11 - My 3L (4L as a part-timer) year has arrived! My breath has caught in my throat several times as I have reflected on this milestone. I’ve promised myself that I will continue to work hard (no “senioritis” for me) and that I will focus on being a great law student one last year to fully absorb this most wonderful experience before moving on.
On Saturday, I hosted a table at 1L Orientation and met many of our incoming students. I continue to be amazed at what a great job our Office of Admissions does in finding our new 1Ls. I had such a great time and was humbled by how many students told me they read my blogs before coming here. I met people with whom I’d emailed, and spoke to others who told me my words inspired them to take a chance on law school. Several times I found myself blinking back tears.
When I look back at the path that brought me to Texas Wesleyan Law, it is undeniable that God had/has a plan for me. How could I have known? The truth is, I don’t need to know - stumbling upon people that I inadvertently touched with my story is affirmation that everything happens for a reason. The vast majority of the new students that come here already feel like family…family I didn’t even know I had. So, welcome to our Law School my new friends and future lawyers. Enjoy your time at Texas Wesleyan Law, because too soon it will be time to move on.
About half of my summer to-do list got done. I didn’t get to my bar application, but I did do my 3L bar card application. So far, I think it’s going to be a great semester. I’m taking Evidence, Criminal Law Practicum, Consumer Law, and Sports Law. The Universe welcomed me back on Monday: I got here at almost 11 AM and found ONE last spot in the closest parking lot---first space, first row. It was kismet!! Yep, I walked into school with a smile on my face ready for a new year. Let’s roll!
8/10/11 - If the summer is a preview of how fast my last year of law school will progress, I’m in for a crazy ride. School starts next week. I’m excited and sad and scared and anxious all at once. With 4L looming, all I can see is almost exactly 12 months ahead of me where there will be nothing but work. In fact, “work” may be my new mantra….school WORK, netWORK, bar WORK, find WORK—in that order.
I’m already behind because my summer to-do list remains unfinished: I have to fill out my 3L bar card application and complete my bar exam application. The latter isn’t due until November at the earliest, but I don’t want this paperwork hanging over my head so close to finals. I may still get it done. Looking at my calendar, it appears I have approximately 2 hours and 38.5 minutes available on Saturday night between 10 p.m. and 1:38 a.m. Ha ha...I’m kidding! Sort of.
In other news: I got a new laptop. My old one was running on XP and I didn’t want to risk trying to (eventually) load the bar exam software on such an old operating system. So far I like it, except that it’s like moving into a new home and nothing feels right until you get it personalized. This has taken up lots of time the last few days, but again, better to mess with it now than next week when my laptop and I will be back in business.
7/27/11 - NYC went by so fast, but my mom and I had a wonderful time and saw lots of the city. As a bonus, Derek Jeter got his 3000th hit the weekend we were there. Awesome!
Our main event at the AAJ Convention was a Sunday morning brunch hosted by the Women Trial Lawyers Caucus. I met many talented female trial lawyers who took time to chat and personally encourage me in my law school journey. Just at my table of eight there were three U.S. Congresswomen with whom I had breakfast! Thanks especially to Marianne LeBlanc and the Women’s Caucus for an unforgettable experience.
Meanwhile, I have to shelve my future lawyer dreams temporarily and focus on completing my legal education. Even though the new semester is still three weeks away, I have a major test coming up. Next Friday I will take the MPRE - the ethics portion of my State Bar exam; a passing score is required to practice in Texas. Seeing as many of my friends are taking the BIG bar exam this very week, the MPRE seems tame by comparison. Nevertheless, it is a challenge I must conquer before taking my own bar exam next July, so it’s kind of a big deal.
I’ll be in Fort Worth this weekend to take an MPRE review class at school, so my Saturday is pretty much toast. That’s ok; my friend Lyndsay (another blogger) will be there, so we’re in this together. Wish us luck!
7/6/11 - Start spreading the news….I’m leaving today. Well, not today, but this weekend I’ll be in New York City! This is my all time favorite city, so as I’m sitting here typing I can’t stop smiling.
It’s funny, soon after I submitted the last blog I got a call and received the opportunity to attend the annual American Association for Justice Convention in NYC. Clearly, God knows what he's doing. He has such wonderful things in store for me that it’s a shame I keep getting in the way of His plans.
I’ll be able to attend legal seminars and network at the convention, but I am especially looking forward to a mini-vacation. My last vacation was in 2007 when my family and I spent a week in NYC. Since then, I have been in school, working, or in school AND working—I’m mentally and physically drained. Ironically, the fast-pace and overload of NYC is just what I need for a few days. The frantic buzz of NYC makes everything else pale in comparison. I imagine that by the time I come back, I’ll look at my hectic life and be grateful for its comparatively slow and steady pace. This is just what I needed to lift my spirits.
My mom’s going with me, so watch out 5th Avenue…the girls will be loose in the Big City! I’ve also found tickets for us to see Jersey Boys on Broadway, but that’s a surprise. Don’t tell! Sixty-degree evenings in July!?! Sweet!
6/22/11 - Filling out my new academic calendar exhausts me. I am anticipating my “senior year” and realizing how expensive it will be—also, taking the bar isn’t cheap. From where is all this extra money supposed to come, especially if you have a family and a life with bills attached? My stomach has been in knots lately pondering these questions. Job postings seem to be stuck on $10/hour—except that Dairy Queen in Austin starts at $12. Really.
This financial regression is indeed a bitter pill to swallow. I’ve talked to friends like me who were professionals before law school and we worry about being “salary snobs.” Not that the work is beneath us, but that we left jobs paying twice or three times $10/hour to attend law school. Now, as we prepare to complete our legal education we are expected to re-enter the job market at 2/3 less than when we left? I guess it’s for the employer to decide whether he/she wants a baby lawyer to shape and mold, or whether the value added by an established professional is worth bumping up the initial salary to get one of us on board as a contributing member of the team. It’s not my plan to be “rich” after law school, but what I want to avoid is needing a lawyer myself—a bankruptcy lawyer—when I get out. I have to trust that this too shall pass and that God has my back, just as He has throughout this journey.
6/3/11 - Ah… summer blogs! It seems like only yesterday it was my first summer as a law intern at the University of Texas System, and here I am working my last. While it’s great to be in a comfortable, familiar place, I’m so used to the “hyper-drive” of law school that I find myself longing for some action. No doubt, I am grateful for my paid summer job, but it sort of feels like going to the beach only to realize it’s at low tide. The days are long here and I am reminded that practicing law isn’t always the drama-filled roller-coaster that we see on television. In fact, much of the daily legal work that goes into those short-lived legal battles is the difference between winning and losing. Still…document review, while necessary, is so tedious.
In other news: I’m whittling away at my two “to do” lists…one is for fun and the other for survival! I saw a movie at the theater, I baked cookies for the family, I’m gathering materials to make football mums for my son’s high school, and I’m reading a fiction book. From the other list: I’m studying an Evidence hornbook, I have three scholarship applications pending, and am kicking the job search into high gear. (Any potential employers out there??)
Advice for 1Ls: Check out the E-Legal News link on our home page. Under the “Scholarships” tab there are often opportunities for entering 1Ls. I wish I’d known of this resource when I started. Good luck!
5/11/11 - Since my last blog, I’ve attended a Civil Service Appeal Hearing with my boss, Randy Moore, and he won the appeal. I’ve had two finals (my last one is tomorrow), and the results of the February bar exam came out.
This semester, my exams were spread from the beginning to the end of our 2-week finals period. At least I had plenty of time in between exams to catch my breath. Last semester, I had finals three days in a row, so I’m not complaining. No predictions, as usual…I take it as a good sign that I didn’t freak out, so we’ll see. I will say that it pays to study professors’ old exams if they have any on file. My study partner and I did just that and there were at least four questions verbatim from the old exam. Score!
Bar results were encouraging. February bar exams have a reputation for brutality; I don’t know why, but I’ve heard that rumor enough that I believe it. So, even though I could graduate this December I have chosen to stretch my final year of law school through to May. This time next year it will be my turn to take on the Texas Bar.
Meanwhile, this is my last blog for the semester and I want to thank my family for hanging on for another year. Thanks also to my law school friends for making me laugh and for being my second family every day. Congratulations to those that recently passed the bar and lots of luck and love to all of you taking it in July. A special shout out to the person that found my watch in the library last week and turned it in; I got it back yesterday and that made my day. Its people like you that make Texas Wesleyan Law such a special place.
Hugs and much gratitude to all the Texas Wesleyan Law administration for all you do for us students every day. I attended an Admitted Students Reception last night and am encouraged by the awesome crop of 1Ls that will be here in the fall. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to work with you as an Ambassador for Texas Wesleyan Law. I love this place and I love you guys! Happy summer!
Reading the letter, I felt my head spin…all D’s and one F?!? And to make it worse the grades were all written in bright red…staring at me, laughing. How did this happen?
It’s started…I had my first grade nightmare last night. I was so grateful to wake up this morning and find that I still have time to study for my finals and it was nothing more than an anxiety-induced nightmare. I don’t recall having these kinds of nightmares before though. I’ve gone to sleep only to find my mind continues figuring out one legal fact pattern after another, long after I’ve put my books away for the night, but never have I had dreams of grades. That’s kind of unnerving.
Maybe it has to do with this week being the last week of classes and finally getting some detail about exam formats from my professors. One exam is mostly multiple-choice and the other is all multiple-choice. Both professors said the exam should not take the full three hours. Hmmm, I don’t know how I feel about that. I’ve historically done well with multiple choice exams, but what kind of monster questions are these guys going to think up to separate the herd? That has me kind of worried and probably why I am quietly freaking out in my sleep.
This was my last week working at the law firm. I have to thank my boss, Randy Moore, and all the friends I made at the office for such a great semester. I’ll still be blogging for Randy over the summer, but I’ll miss seeing Randy, Teresa and Kim every week. Also thanks to Coby Wooten, a Texas Wesleyan Law alum, for encouraging me to get my 3rd year bar card so we can try some cases together.
As our last hurrah, Randy and I are going to a Civil Service Appeal Hearing tomorrow in Grand Prairie. I’m anxious to see him in action. After spending all semester hanging around with these trial lawyers, litigation is starting to intrigue me more every day. So many choices…
4/20/11 - Beginning last weekend, I was so miserable with allergies it felt as if I wore a fishbowl full of water over my head like a helmet. On Monday morning, I was pleasantly surprised that I hadn’t asphyxiated in my sleep; I’d had grave doubts about seeing the sunrise when I fell asleep on Sunday. Even though I still felt like death, the week was full of deadlines, so there was no rest for the weary.
I finished my Major Motion Assignment on Sunday as planned and I’m happy with the final product. Since I was done writing two days before the deadline, I actually had time for editing and proofreading. Prof. Pierce will love that!
It was also my turn to brief and discuss cases in my State and Local Government class. I chose a topic with which I am very familiar: Open Records. We started to discuss the specifics of the statute in class, but we’ll continue on it this week. It felt so good to be able to talk with authority about something for a change. Wow, I’ve so missed that. It’s a tricky little niche of the law, and when I worked at the University, I just loved unraveling the puzzles and side-stepping all the traps meant to make the statute so user-friendly.
I’ve decided to drop the 4 hours of summer courses I planned to take. I didn’t have enough hours to qualify for financial aid, so I was worrying about paying the bill. After assessing my finances, I figured that I could take those four hours in the spring and still have a lighter last semester. What’s the rush anyway, I love law school!
This weekend was pretty laid back. I took Friday off from studying to sleep. I needed it - with finals looming, I have to be back to 100%. I also watched a movie, and my family was like, “What are you doing? Why are you watching a movie?” Guess I’ve got them conditioned to know something’s up when my face isn’t in a book. That’s all for now!
4/6/11 - This blog is a collection of randomness and things that make you go, “Hmmmm….”
Writing deadlines are hitting hard now and many of us are functioning on very little sleep. Literally, this place could be the movie set for Zombieland. I’m running a little low, but it will get worse this weekend because my Litigation Drafting Major Motion (yes, all capital letters because it’s that big of a deal) is due next Tuesday. I will have it done by Sunday if it kills me.
Last night, my youngest son showed me some advanced math problems he’s doing in 6th grade. I looked and my blood ran cold: Logic Games. Yup, those horrific LSAT questions that turn most prospective law students’ brains into oatmeal. I proceeded to tell him about the LSAT and its Logic Games torture chamber. For fun, I printed a few sample questions for him. He went off and about 20 minutes later was back having completed all 6 questions correctly. I sat there with my mouth agape. We then had a serious conversation about his future. Law school, he says, is his plan “B”…he wants to be a professional athlete. That’s fine…I’ll wait. When he realizes that his brilliant legal mind is a terrible thing to waste, I’ll be there with law school applications in hand. Bwahahahaha!
On Monday, I registered for fall classes and easily got everything I wanted based on seniority. Looks like I’ll have 12 hours for the fall, leaving only 7 for the spring. Amazing. I have to stop and savor that….
Yesterday, my Toyota Yaris hit 100K miles, thanks to my treks to/from law school. I just need my car to hang on for one more year and then I’ll put her out to pasture. I’m such a dork, I had to pull off the highway when the odometer turned so I could take a picture for posterity! That will be on Facebook soon.
Last but not least, thanks to the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas for presenting me with a scholarship last week. I was pleasantly surprised and remain very grateful.
3/23/11 - You know it’s gonna be a long day when: Breakfast consists of bagel crisps, peanut butter, coffee, AND a 16 oz. energy drink, neither of which ever kick in. Having two drafting classes is really starting to wear on me; all I do is draft…all weekend, every weekend. Tuesday nights are brutal because I have to finish my Estate drafting in time to print at home before driving back to Fort Worth the next morning. I typically don’t get to sleep before 1:30 a.m. and then I’m up by 4:30 a.m. to start all over again. I guess I can do that for a while, but as the semester progresses, it’s getting rough. Today was bad—it’s after 7 p.m. and I’m still at school.
I’m convinced that the time change messes me up for at least a week. It got the best of me yesterday when I was reminded that I never adjusted my Dallas alarm clock. I got up and while getting ready for class I looked at my cell phone and realized my mistake. Even if I wanted to…er, I mean…even though I wanted to make it to my 8:30 class, there was no way. But, the misfortune did provide a tangible reminder of why I love Texas Wesleyan Law: By the time I got to school and checked my email a classmate had sent me her notes from the class I missed that morning. This speaks volumes about the kind of students we have here; people really care about each other and that’s just awesome. Thanks a million, Kate!
There’s a rumor that last week was Spring Break, but I didn’t see it. I completed 41 pro bono hours at the City of Austin and rediscovered how exhausting it is to have a full-time job. Somebody also forgot to tell the professors about the break, because there was no rest from the onslaught of drafting and reading.
As a treat, I’ll be in San Antonio this weekend attending the Mexican-American Bar Association Law Student Conference. I’ve applied for one of their scholarships, so wish me luck!
3/9/11 - What did I tell you? God is in control! I knew my summer would solidify, and shortly after submitting my last blog, I got an email from the office manager at the U.T. System. One of the attorneys that replaced me when I came to law school will be leaving soon and they are in a pinch. Rather than call in a temp that they’d have to train, they invited me to come back for the summer. I’ll be doing my old job of responding to open record requests and drafting requests for opinion to the Texas Attorney General. And the best part is that I’ll get paid like a real employee again! Of course, I accepted on the spot.
I’m excited about going back, and yes, doing my old job. I loved doing open records and writing winning legal briefs to the AG. This was my area, my niche, and it’s been a while since I felt that kind of confidence in the humbling halls of Texas Wesleyan Law. As this is my last law school summer, it’s time to start looking for a real job. I’m hoping to go back to U.T. eventually, so the fact that they sought me out for this position is very encouraging.
In fact, many summer opportunities were just over the horizon: I also spoke with the City of Austin last week and they wanted me back too. I explained about UT, but then offered to do some pro bono work for them during Spring Break. Turns out, they would love to have me back, so next week I should be able to knock out all my required pro bono hours! That’s one more check off my “To Do” before graduation list.
As far as classes, I’m learning so much in my drafting sections. I suspect that this is because I spend hours upon hours preparing documents each week. It’s quite a challenge to keep up, but it’s very useful and practical information. I’m getting a steady stream of A’s on my work and that’s really good to see.
2/23/11 - Things happen really quickly in law school. So, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that my time is already taken—I’m just waiting to find out by whom!
Take today, for example…while my two law school besties (Megan and Jonathan) are on Day 2 of the bar exam, I received an impromptu invitation to a Tarrant County Trial Lawyer Association luncheon.
This semester, I started blogging for plaintiff’s attorney, Randy Moore. He shares space with several other personal injury attorneys, so I get to see all kinds of cases, clients and lawyer styles. Today, two of the attorneys were going to the luncheon and invited me along. They are intent on turning me into a trial lawyer, and I have to admit, what I’ve seen so far makes for some exciting work.
We went to Joe T’s, and along with a nice lunch, there was an interesting presentation that focused on jury interviews. I learned that at the end of a trial the attorneys often ask jurors to critique their court performance. These candid comments really help the attorneys identify what they did well and what they need to improve—from a jurors’ perspective. I’m sure it’s quite humbling for trial lawyers (who generally have a reputation for dramatic flair) to go through such a process, but it helps them to hone their trial skills and get better each time. I have to admire the dedication I saw in that room.
As an added perk, I ran into Judge John Chupp of the 141st District Court at the luncheon and approached him about coming to speak at a meeting for one of my student organizations. So the moral of this story is: Always dress for success - you never know where you might go and who you might meet while there!
On the summer job front: One of my interviews got rescheduled, and they called me last week to offer the job. It’s not paid, so I’m going to need alternative funding before I accept; this might be a problem. The second interview is still pending. So, we’ll see!
2/9/11 - The last two weeks have stuttered along, all because of a little snow and ice—yeah right, it was a Texas Blizzard, y’all!! We missed 4 days last week and today, I’m blogging from Dallas during Snow Day #5. While I had good intentions of getting ahead in my studies, not much of that materialized. Reflecting on last week, I didn’t fall behind, but I didn’t get ahead either. Instead, I got many more hours of sleep than I’ve had in a while, which I hope will help me out in the long run. I’m right where I need to be as far as classes, so I’m not worried.
What I am worried about is summer employment. Last week’s DFW ice storm stranded me in North Texas, but I escaped back to Austin just in time for it to hit there on Thursday. Friday, I woke up to several inches of powdery snow at home, and the two interviews I had for that day were quickly cancelled. That afternoon, I wrote new cover letters to the employers and reiterated my interest, so hopefully they will reschedule my interviews. That’s the one thing about summer internships, especially those that pay (which are rare these days), you snooze you lose! I got an email yesterday that one of the employers is rescheduling for this Friday, so I’m looking forward to that.
Today is the second State and Local Government Class that’s been cancelled, and I’m bummed. We did manage to have yesterday’s Litigation Drafting class, so I now have a new drafting assignment for next Tuesday. Our last one was a group assignment, and while there is something to be said about working in teams, it’s often easier to work alone. Either way, getting the job done is essential.
There’s a bit of fun on the horizon this weekend: my boys’ Cotillion Ball got cancelled last week and has been rescheduled for this Saturday. I’m looking forward to a fun evening as a chaperone, getting to watch all these teenagers practice their social graces. Until next time, stay warm!
1/26/11 - I’m still a bit frazzled with my new semester schedule and haven’t even finished updating my calendar with all my upcoming events. Although I’m still part-time, I’m taking 5 classes and wow, there’s so much work to do. I’m also putting in 20 hours a week at two different jobs which is going to take some getting used to.
This semester I’m taking two drafting classes and have writing assignments due pretty much every week. So far we’ve started slow in Litigation Drafting, and have prepared only a short memo and a demand letter, but I’m sure it will get harder as we go. We also turn in weekly time sheets and track the hours we spend on our “client’s” case. It’s these types of practical skills that I hope will put me ahead of the learning curve once law school is a distant memory.
I’m really enjoying my Estate Administration Practicum and even purchased the suggested notebook of drafting materials. I was giddy just going through the contents including a nifty CD of forms. My friend Lyndsay (a fellow blogger) and I were laughing about how we feel like such nerds getting excited over probate forms! I’m also taking Texas Pre-Trial and Marital Property, both of which are tested on the bar exam.
For me, there’s always one class each semester about which I’m really excited - this time it’s State and Local Government Law. I know I want to be a government lawyer. I’ve worked for so many different government entities in my professional life, and spending last summer immersed in municipal law just reaffirmed where my heart belongs. I’ve always found that some of the best and brightest are working in government law, many of whom have been wonderful mentors to me over the years. Obviously, Wednesday afternoon is the highlight of my week, when I get my next dose of Government Law.
Yesterday was my birthday and I had a great day. I had a nice lunch with my friend Karla in Dallas and then drove home to another “party” with the family. Good times.
1/12/11 - I’m convinced that just setting foot inside the building for the Winter Term immediately transformed me into a work magnet.
Well, my rigorous writing paper refused to go quietly into the night. Last week, I got an email from Prof. Ayres that my paper was one page short of the ABA requirements for rigorous writing credit. I already knew this since about 4 hours after the deadline for submitting our papers when, out of nowhere, my brain sounded the alarm, “We’re one page short!!! You numbered the cover sheet!!! Horrors!!!” I chuckled to myself and thought, no way—this is just a joke from my brain still swimming in adrenaline. Nevertheless, I checked the final draft on my PC (Insert expletive here!)--my subconscious brain was correct. Although Prof. Ayres’s email didn’t surprise me, I was pleasantly surprised that she let me write another page in order to get the credit; I just assumed it was too late. Over the weekend, I was back at it. Finally, it’s over. Again.
My Deposition Skills Workshop was, in a word: Awesome. This was my first oral advocacy class and I totally had a Perry Mason moment. In my class of sixteen, I was nearly last to question the witness on the first few days. It was a breach of contract claim but the “contract” was unsigned by either party and only had the defendant’s business card copied on it. As all the “good” questions got asked it became more difficult for me to think of a new angle. Finally: “Mr. Jackson, are you illiterate?” (Snickers from the jury box.) Then I asked whether he knew how to write, whether he’d ever been a party to a contract, what his customary “signature” looked like, and whether he EVER used a business card in lieu of his signature. Just about then (in my head) the Boston Legal theme started playing! After class, I did get some pats on the back for thinking to question the signature. It just came to me: Invalid contract = no breach. Case closed. What a rush!
12/15/10 - Every year I promise myself that THIS December I’ll be better organized, I’ll prioritize, I’ll learn to say “no” when time just won’t permit one more thing to be done. Yeah, well…there’s always next year.
The last two weeks of my semester brought me to new heights of exhaustion, but it was mercifully short-lived, and I finished my finals within the first week. I’ve returned to work at UT System as I have the last two Decembers and things have settled into somewhat of a routine except for the additional errands associated with the Christmas holidays. Did I mention that my oldest son has a birthday right in the middle of all this and my youngest son has his birthday in early January? So there are holidays and birthdays galore at my house, adding to the chaos and keeping me running at fever pitch. Hmmm, sounds really similar to the tempo I keep during the semester.
Interview bidding for the upcoming Public Interest Job Fair begins today. This is where I found my very cool summer internship last year. This year, however, the pickings look to be really slim. I was kind of bummed out about how many employers are looking for volunteers. I’ve yet to figure out how one is supposed to transition from barely making it on a student budget to having a zero budget for an entire summer. I’m not sure this is very feasible for many students in particular those like me that have lots of work experience and a family to support. Depending on how this plays out, there’s always the option to take classes during the summer which I’ve been able to avoid so far. I guess I just have to trust that God is in control and things will work out the way they are supposed to. I’m going to apply for a handful of interviews and see where it goes. I do have to say I was incredibly lucky to get such a well-paying gig at the City of Austin last summer and I am so happy that I had that wonderful opportunity.
I missed December graduation, but for a good reason. I was selected to win an award from the Dallas Law Charities and so last weekend I was in Dallas to attend the award presentation at their annual Christmas Ball. It was a wonderful evening in a downtown Dallas hotel and I had the opportunity to meet many distinguished members of the local medical, legal and law enforcement communities. I want to especially thank Clarabeth and Juan Hernandez of Hernandez Law and all the sponsors of the Dallas Law Charities for their generous support of Texas law students.
Lastly, as I close out 2010 with this final blog, I want to say farewell and good luck to all of my friends that just graduated and will be taking the February bar. I pray that you will have clarity of mind and unwavering focus in the next several weeks as you begin your bar prep. Megan and Jonathan, I love you guys!!
To all my friends, family, and the faculty and staff at Texas Wesleyan Law (who have themselves become my friends and family), thank you for another wonderful year. Thank you for making me a better person for having known you. Your lessons have not fallen on deaf ears. I wish you peace and love for 2011. Merry Christmas all!!
11/23/10 - Finals are a real pain in the neck; I mean this both figuratively and literally. Unfortunately, it’s the latter that is currently the most urgent. Lack of sleep and upwards of 13 hours at my laptop for each of the last three days has left my neck, shoulders and forearms pretty sore (from typing). I guess this is the “rigorous” part of my Rigorous Writing class; it was indeed a physical beat down. But hey…I can now check that off my list of things to do. After printing up my final copy on Sunday evening, the family and I celebrated with root beer floats!
Now I can begin studying for exams—my first one is a week from this Wednesday and then everything will blur as I limp towards the end of my 5th semester, when I can finally bask in my official “3L-ness.” (Yes, I just made that word up—it’s my blog, I can do that.)
Speaking of blogging…next semester I’ll be getting paid to blog! (Calm down, Admissions folks…I’m not going to start charging for my literary witticisms—I do THIS blog ‘cause I love it!). Actually, I interviewed for a blogging job at a local law firm last week and was hired on the spot. I’ll be working with Randall D. Moore in his law office and I’ll primarily be blogging about current events relevant to his practice. I’ll also be helping out in the office, so that’s more legal experience in my toolbox.
Graduation is coming fast and my two closest friends, Megan and Jonathan, will be leaving. I will miss them both very much. I can’t elaborate too much on this point, because I know to do so will make me cry. The law school experience is unprecedented, and those of us that go through it together are bound for life. I love you guys and I’m so proud of you both. XXOO
Many blessings to all my family, friends and any prospective students out there—Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Best of luck on finals to all the Texas Wesleyan Law community.
11/17/10 - With three weeks left in my semester I’m shifting into fire-fighter mode: My “to do” list is prioritized daily by what fire threatens to burn down my whole law school life. It sounds a bit dramatic, but really I think most of us are running on pure adrenaline from now through finals.
Case in point: Today I walked into Criminal Procedure and for the first time saw that my friend Marcus was in my class. I had no idea he was there all semester. Then, plugging in my laptop I looked at the guy to my right and wondered why he was sitting in Sam’s seat. Then it hit me…what day is it, Tuesday? Ugh!! Crim Pro’s on Monday! I had to re-pack my stuff, exchange my books and race to Secured Transactions.
After class I offered Megan a ride to her car so we walked to the far parking lot. Once there, I realized that I had no idea where I parked. It took me a minute to remember that I was in the other lot. As we trudged back, someone’s car alarm went off and I about jumped out of my skin. Megan and I shared a nervous giggle. Yup, it is finals time—my nerves are shot and I’m so focused on work that I am on auto-pilot. Geez, it’s a wonder I made it to school with my shoes on!
So my Law & Literature presentation is done and now I’m back to the paper which is due next Monday. Honestly, my rough draft was so rough I’m surprised Prof. Ayres didn’t cut her fingers picking it up. She gave it back already and offered some really useful comments that I definitely plan on using.
Update on the school re-zoning: We WON!!! After review, the school board decided that it didn’t need to open the new school for at least another year, so they left the neighborhoods alone. Although a temporary fix, score one for the little guys!! I suddenly have the urge to sing, “We Are the Champions.” All for now, back to work!
11/3/10 - Slowly, my Law and Literature paper has begun to consume my life. Our rough draft is due next week and even the skilled questioning of my classmates and I couldn’t get much clarification from Prof. Ayres.
Us: “What exactly do you mean by rough?”
Prof. Ayres: “It should be pretty much done.” (So, rough = done??)
These are the kinds of cryptic conversations that go on among law professors and law students.
Thankfully, I like my topic: Insurance Bad-Faith Litigation as Illustrated in John Grisham’s The Rainmaker. I have nearly every Grisham book and this one’s my favorite, so things could be worse. I wish I could fast-forward to the finished product - from this vantage point there’s a whole lot of work to do!
Spring registration is done and I didn’t have to settle for anything I didn’t want. I prepared written scenarios of the various ways my schedule could work out (uh…seven scenarios to be exact!) and I could have had my choice of any of them. I got the requisite 12 hours plus one more in the winter term, so things are right on track. Every extra hour I get between now and next spring just lightens the load in my last semester. I’m excited to have two drafting classes: Litigation and Estate Planning. It’s all well and good to understand the concept of practicing law, but actually drafting legal documents…well, that’s where it’s at.
Another good thing is that my classes are early, which should give me lots of time to study, get a job (I’m still looking!!!), and/or start checking off my pro bono hours. I’ll continue the twice weekly commute, but will have to go back to leaving Austin by 6 AM to make my 9 AM class—I’ve been really spoiled this semester leaving at 7:30 AM. Maybe my schedule will have to include time for a nap!
I think I’ll be doing a prospective student event in a couple of weeks, so maybe I’ll get to meet some of you in person. Until then…wish me luck!
10/20/10 - Today, I am exhausted. If I had enough energy I’d petition for a Fall Break, which I hear that some law schools do have. It would be great to have a week to collect ourselves and play catch up. (Just in case you are intrigued by this idea, Dean Short…)
I think the perfect time to have Fall Break would be the week of registration. It’s not enough to be consumed in the chaos of THIS semester—let’s add registration for the next semester right in the middle of it all. Sigh. I suppose the process is the same at other law schools, so you’d think I’d be used to it by now. On the bright side, I only have 2 more required classes, and then nothing but electives (including bar-tested subjects) after that. Turns out, if I take 12 hours the next three semesters I’ll be done. That’s extremely exciting and terrifying all at once.
I’ve signed up for our Winter Semester, which consists of one week courses that are worth one credit hour each. These will take place the week before classes resume in the Spring. I’m taking Deposition Skills Workshop, and am very excited to get some hands on training in this area. Other than my first semester, my commuting hasn’t allowed many opportunities for me to practice oral advocacy. I’ve never thought about being a litigator, but who knows? Maybe after I start working on this skill it might become my new passion. I’m thinking this course will also look good on my resume and transcript.
Update: Tomorrow the school board votes on the re-zoning plan. There’s a planned protest at the elementary school and parents are being asked to send their kids to school “tardy” so the district loses its federal and state funding for the day. I’ll be at school, but even if I were in Austin, I’m not sure how I feel about this method. I guess if anything, you gotta love the First Amendment and the freedom we have to petition our government in whatever way we believe is appropriate.
10/6/10 - I’ve never been skiing, but I can imagine flying down a black diamond slope—dodging and weaving, obstacles blurring on either side of me, and praying that I don’t tumble head first into a low-hanging branch. Yep…that’s about how I feel at this point in my semester. I can’t believe that it’s already October. I am hurtling fast towards the finals count down and wow…nobody told me where to find the hand break!
Although I was right to think that this was going to be a strange semester, the only thing that is remarkably different is the fact that three of my four professors use PowerPoint presentations daily. While I appreciate the highlights they capture on these presentations, I’ve discovered that it makes me very lazy. I take notes and if I miss something, I simply highlight it as a reminder to myself to go back to the PowerPoint. The problem is, I haven’t been doing this. Instead, I use the presentations and fill those in with MY notes. This is the first semester where I’ve had this kind of dilemma, so I’m not really sure which process will work better. I feel as if I’m learning to study all over again. I really need to rediscover my internal motivation; perhaps I left it on the ski-lift!
Drama on the home front: Our school district proposes to rezone my neighborhood out of our current middle school and into another that is triple the distance away. Everyone’s up in arms and last week’s public meeting wasn’t pretty. The school board meets tomorrow, and we’ll be there en masse. Petitions are circulating, parents are emailing the school board, and we even have a Facebook page. All available information just doesn’t support the proposal; even the district’s own criteria weigh against the move. But the logical alternative - review the district holistically - is understandably not palatable. The proposal offers a piece-meal fix that likely will just prolong another inevitable rezoning in the near future. Time to put the power of the people to the test. Wish us luck!!
9/22/10 - Things seem to have finally settled down. Yesterday, I took my son to the craft store for items to make a science model. I’ve noticed that the more analytical I am with my brain, the more I want to paint or cook or make a Christmas wreath. It’s like my mind is trying to keep me balanced: analytical and creative. In the store, I was mesmerized with the stuff to make football mums, but we came home and made the model instead. Then I threw together a crockpot breakfast casserole (it cooked all night and breakfast was awesome this morning, yum!!) and then read for class. I didn’t get to bed until close to 1 AM, which seems to be the standard time for me this semester. Yeah…I’m not too sure how long I’ll be able to keep that up!
Last week I interviewed for an internship at a local firm. I started talking to the receptionist only to find out that she wants to go to law school AND she reads my blog! (Hi, Jessica!!!) That was a cool, yet very odd thing to find out right before going into an interview. Immediately I wondered if I had written anything that might come back to haunt me in my interview, but then I relaxed and remembered that one of my favorite things about blogging is how honest I get to be. So, I figured that if someone reads my blog they likely get a good sense of who I am, and I’m just fine with that.
I spent last weekend working on an abstract and source list for my Law & Lit paper. Turns out, combining these two disciplines is pretty challenging and I’m kind of fumbling around trying to retain my legal writing and infuse a little liberal arts. I did get to use my ol’ Bluebook which was fun. I used to love doing the citations we did in 1L legal writing, that kind of methodical, detail-oriented work is very relaxing to me. Sometimes you need that kind of auto-pilot work to give the noodle a little breather!
9/8/10 - Whew! I have had a whirlwind of a day and have so much to tell you!
A Labor Day weekend it was—I labored for three days on my outlines. I am current on two and nearly there on the third. On Friday, I ran errands and worried because I got no studying done. However, last week was super busy, so ultimately I was ok with taking the day off. I made up for it the rest of the weekend though with each day devoted to one subject; it was brutal. So much for a short week, it’s the same amount of work just shoved into less time!
Next Monday, one of my student organizations is hosting Texas First Lady Anita Perry at the law school. We are hoping for a wonderful turn out, but getting there takes lots of planning. Flyers must be made and distributed, invitations printed, facilities reserved, and logistics coordinated. I think it will be quite a notable event to have such a distinguished guest here and I am hoping that the whole law school community will take this opportunity to come hear her speak. I have to thank her office for being so gracious and the First Lady for taking time to come visit our school.
Update on my aunt’s case: I met with a lawyer in Austin and prepared a fully detailed notebook containing everything I’ve gathered about the accident. The attorney was visibly impressed with my work. He reviewed the liabilities of the case with me in detail, unlike the meeting he would have with a “regular” client. He figured that as a law student I’d be able to follow, which I did. His candor was refreshing. He ultimately declined the case because it was too far away, but he offered to refer it to other attorneys in San Antonio. By the time I got home from our meeting, I had two referrals, one of whom took the case. This attorney was also impressed with my work and as a result he’s invited me to sit second chair (i.e. “co-counsel”) at the trial. That’s pretty darned awesome!
8/25/10 - Have you ever heard the saying that as a 1L they scare you to death, 2L they work you to death, and 3L they bore you to death? If I ever forget that I’m on an atypical graduation plan as a part-time student, THIS is going to be the semester that brings it home. Although last year was technically my second year of law school, we part-time students are on four-year plans. Thus, all my hours to date actually put me at 2.5L this semester. All this to say: even though it’s only week two, I’m definitely feeling the swell of work that was promised by the aforementioned adage.
Also, I took leadership positions in several student organizations and now have to make good on those commitments. The beginning of a new semester is generally crazy, but now all these student orgs want to schedule events, recruit new members, and actively serve the school and community. I’m thinking this is going to be one really crazy year. Note to self: Don’t over-extend next year!
So far this semester has a really strange vibe to it. I’m taking Law and Literature, Criminal Procedure, Secured Transactions, and Business Associations. With no business background, both BA and Secured seem a little daunting to me. Ok, actually, I’m very much out of my element, so that’s a little unnerving for me. I’ve got faith that my professors will bring it down to a level that I can grasp. I’ll definitely have to stay on top of this stuff. I do get to read several novels for my Law and Lit class, so hopefully that will balance out my brain drain on the other courses.
I’m excited that this semester puts me halfway done with school, but I’ve got mixed emotions because many of my entering classmates will start graduating this December. That makes me sad. For now, it feels good to be back blogging. This week’s been busy; I enjoyed this break to catch my breath. I’m glad to be back at Texas Wesleyan Law! Welcome back, everyone!
8/4/10 - Summer is nearly over, and soon I’ll be back down the rabbit hole. I have mixed emotions with this realization. Law school and I have a mysterious love-hate relationship even though, for the most part, I really enjoy my studies, it is by far the most demanding and life-draining experience I have ever known. No matter how much love you have for your future profession, at some point, you just want to get done with school and recover some semblance of control over your life again.
My internship ends next Friday and the other interns are leaving this week; it’s kind of sad. I’ve spent the last 11 weeks with these folks and we’ve gotten to be good friends. Both Will and Angela will be done in time to take the February bar, and my stomach knots up just thinking about that. I’ll be nervous for them, but they will do great. I’m sure our paths will cross again, but it’ll never be like it was this summer…we had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun. Sort of. Anyway, Angela and Will, I’ll miss you both and wish you well your last semester/quarter of law school.
Meanwhile, there are a couple of social events on the calendar the rest of this week. Today we interns are getting taken out to lunch. We’re excited about actually taking lunch - we often worked right through on most days. Then, this evening the Law Department is hosting a gathering after work which promises to be fun. I brought my camera and plan to take lots of pictures just to remember all the cool people I met this summer. Tomorrow, we’re attending a reception at a local environmental law firm with one of the Assistant City Attorneys, which will give us more exposure to the legal community.
In all, I’ve grown to like the comforting automated voice in the elevator that welcomes me daily into City Hall, “Going up!” It reminds me that, yes, I am going up, and with each day I’m just a bit closer to the prize.
7/28/10 - You ever have one of those days where you start all kinds of projects but never complete any? That’s been my summer, and though it’s winding down, my “to do” list keeps growing. Let’s face it, my goal to finish reading all five of my Law & Lit novels before school starts isn’t happening. I had good intentions, but it always felt “too early” to start worrying about next semester’s reading. Instead I wanted to focus on all that was going on in real-time: I took my kids running, hung out at the pool, spent time with family, had friends over for dinner, and just enjoyed life. It was well worth it.
Back at work, I’ve had a busy couple of weeks with several assignments pending. Soon I’ll no longer be an intern and I’m sad about that. My co-interns (now officially my friends) and I often talk about how great the experience has been. The City did a great job matching us up. We learned a lot from the work, but also from each other. It helps too that we all have such outgoing personalities and were ready for anything. Most days we took at least twenty minutes in the afternoon to clear our heads and laugh until our faces hurt. Good times.
As an update, I’m still looking for an attorney for my aunt who was hit by a car in November. I’ve done some leg work getting her documents together and organizing them for an attorney to review. We’ve got a two year statute of limitations, which unfortunately, is not long enough for me to finish school and do this myself. She’s got over $6,000 worth of medical bills that she shouldn’t have to pay, so I’ve got to keep pushing for her.
Good news: My best friend Letty and her family are back from Guam and are now stationed in Texas. She’s closing on a house in Schertz tomorrow and we’ll get to see each other all the time. I’ve done without her for a couple of years now, so it’s good to have my sister home.
7/14/10 – Clearly, law school summers are continuations of the semester rat race with only a change of venue. One of my co-interns and I were discussing how first semester 1Ls have the best life and don’t even know it. Socratic Method aside, there’s a crazy amount of hand-holding and accommodation afforded to 1Ls because everyone expects you to be clueless. Around November of 1L, you meet Career Services - that’s when you’re officially in the race.
Case in point: Here I am mid-internship, and I am already looking to find another awesome placement for NEXT summer. My resume, writing samples, and cover letters are done and I’m registered for several job fairs. This, my friends, is what they don’t tell you: After that first semester, plan to add essentially another course to your schedule called “Job Hunting.” It’s totally an independent study course, so nobody’s gonna pressure you to get stuff done. Don’t expect much if you don’t do much. I guess when everyone else has a summer internship and you don’t, that’s the equivalent of a big fat “F.” And so it goes….
Last week I went to Municipal court and watched trials. As we two interns sat with the prosecutor, I noticed that people looked at us differently. We did the obligatory whispering and shared information as the witnesses testified. We had to look like a formidable group; three of us against one pro se defendant. I tried really hard to listen to the cases objectively, and pick sides in my head based on who made their case. In one trial, I watched a Spanish-speaking defendant argue his way out of a public intoxication ticket using a translator. It was a weak case and so when the judge said “not guilty” I had a hard time not smiling. The defendant’s closing got to me: He asked why, in the absence of proof (no video, no sobriety test), his word was worth less than that of an officer. I hope that this experience demonstrated to him and his family that the justice system, although imperfect, strives to do the right thing.
6/30/10 - Summer is almost halfway over and I’m just getting started. I know the end is fast approaching, since I’m scheduling appointments for the days leading up to school and those first few weeks back. Seriously?! Plans for September?! Normally, my type-A personality would rejoice knowing so far in advance where to be and what to do. BUT…as my calendar fills up, the weight of my third year in law school (with another year after that) makes me weary. I can’t think of it just yet. Although…
I got online this weekend to search for textbook deals. I found about half of what I needed and got them for WAY less than retail. It’s sick to pay upwards of $100 for a book that you will use for about 4 months and then sell back for $15. As a result, early book hunting is essential. Don’t think your classmates aren’t wheelin’ and dealin’ trying to get the best price. They are, we are…you will too.
It occurs to me that I didn’t say anything about grades posting last time, so I should probably wrap up last semester before moving too much further on. So, I was pleased with my performance. I definitely learned that it pays to stay on task consistently. I had to grit my teeth all semester long to keep focused when I was going stir crazy, but now I’m so happy that I did. I decided not to not take 1st Amendment as pass/fail and wondered later if I’d regret that choice. Ultimately, I worked really hard in that class and so getting the grade was all the more rewarding. Also, after the challenge of Con Law, I had something to prove to myself.
Life at home with “just” work is a nice change. The boys and I went swimming on Saturday and I got my first summer sunburn. It was so relaxing floating in the cool water with just my nose and toes sticking out. July 4th is this weekend and Megan’s coming to visit! Not so fast, summer. Linger just a little longer…
6/16/10 - In our last episode I thought my blogging was done, but not so! I’ve been asked to share, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Law School Style.”
Thus far my internship with the City of Austin has been great! Working in municipal government is not unlike my last job at the UT System. Both entities are involved in so many different projects that there are countless legal areas to explore. The wonderful thing about this internship is that I don’t have to settle in one spot; in fact, they encourage us to investigate as many areas as possible. I feel like I’ve been given a Golden Ticket and Willy Wonka just opened the door to the factory!
Week one I attended my first City Council meeting and that was eye-opening. Austin sure has a segment of vocal people with all manner of concerns that they want heard. Often, issues that come up in meetings turn into questions for the law department.
Week two I went to court and heard a motion on a demolition permit. I also watched a Med-Mal case and a Negligence claim. I saw several attorneys with different court room argument styles, some of which I liked more than others.
We met at Austin Police Headquarters last week to attend the Chief’s Monday briefing. We toured the old jail and the various investigatory divisions from financial crimes to homicide. I also took my picture with the Chief which was awesome! In between all this I’ve written several memos and put my trusty Blue Book and legal research skills into practice on attorney-client issues, waiver, statutory construction, and legislative intent.
This week we’ve toured Austin’s Water Treatment and Waste Water plants. I’m impressed with the process and how clean our water is here. Generally I’m amazed that lawyers are needed for such varied legal services; who knew? Add to that all the employment issues that surface in any large entity and it’s no wonder this place is jumping. Speaking of, I’ve got to get jumping myself—we’re off to tour the Federal and District Courthouse!
5/19/10 - For the last few weeks at school, there was tension in the air, punctuated by swells of panic as test after test came and went. Then…the day after, in the same hallways and in the library, there was peace. I realized at that moment that I really love this place and I’m glad to be on this journey.
I’d like to thank the Academy for the privilege of this honor, but it had nothing to do with me being here. Instead, plenty of others did, so here goes: My thanks and gratitude go to Dean Hurst, Emily, and Lori in Admissions. I’ve so enjoyed being a Texas Wesleyan blogger and student ambassador. Thanks first for giving me the opportunity to prove that I belong here, and second, for letting me share my experiences with anyone who would listen.
My admiration and respect go to Dean Short who is not only a fabulous Property professor, but a wonderful person. I spent lots of time in his office this year and always found him to be insightful, professional, honest, and pretty darn funny. Thanks for keeping an open door and inspiring me to work harder in my classes.
To my friends: thanks for sharing your thoughts, arguments, and opinions—you made me think and redefine my own perspective which helped me grow. In particular to Jonathan, my Westlaw partner and one of my best friends: Thanks for constantly being someone I could count on and for making me laugh when I wanted to cry. You are one cool guy! Also, to Megan for demonstrating how to live a life of conviction; it’s rare to find someone who always strives to do the right thing even when it’s difficult. There should be more people like you.
For now, I begin my internship on Monday and am looking forward to all that the opportunity has to offer. I’ve got a stack of books to read, an entire season of House M.D. to catch up on, baseball games to attend and evening sunsets to see from my deck. Yeah, I love law school but this summer break is very much welcome. It will be nice to plug back into the real world…for now. Have a blessed and safe summer!
5/5/10 - Saturday was Kentucky Derby Day, so I took a study break for the “fastest two minutes in sports.” Even so, my mind didn’t stray far from studying. My pick for the race was Devil May Care; she was the only filly running, and well, I had to pull for her. Had I looked at the others I would’ve chosen Conveyance because the name reminded me of Property Law. Funny enough, Conveyance was in the lead early on then he started…to…wear…out. I sure know the feeling.
Last week classes ended and studying for finals began in earnest on Tuesday. I saved a crazy amount of time by outlining throughout the semester which now gives me time to make flash cards and work more practice problems. My friend Cristina (a 1L blogger) and I trudged through Property for two good days and then I switched to First Amendment with Megan for the rest of the week. We did about five hours on Thursday then I went home to Austin, but we resumed on Friday via Skype which was oddly effective. Thanks Megan for the suggestion--technology is awesome! I feel more in control than I did at the end of last semester even though it’s a false sense of security. All it takes is one well-crafted exam question to remind me of exactly who’s in charge of the law school game.
My First Amendment exam was today. I am relieved and strangely empty. Perhaps this means that I left everything I had in that exam room, or maybe it means out with the old and in with the new: Property II exam tomorrow at 9 AM. For sure it means that there’s no time to waste wondering what it means. All I can say is that whatever happens, I have no regrets. My two exams this week are essentially a repeat of those that gave me the most trouble last semester and rather than let any past shortcomings prejudice my outlook this time around, I’m doubling my efforts and giving it my all. Law school is one tough cookie, but so am I!
4/21/10 - The last time I wanted to ride a roller coaster I was maybe 9 years old. It was the ol’ Texas Cyclone at Astroworld and at that time it was the highest wooden roller coaster in the universe…or something like that. Anyway, riding it was a great idea right up until we hit that first huge drop—since then I’ve never liked roller coasters; after last week my position has not changed.
Things were crazy mostly because I was in financial aid crisis mode. It’s an ironic thing that at the point in the semester, where you have the least amount of mental energy to spare, these issues surface. It’s tough to go from a full time job to part time law school, and a quarter of your former income, if that. Thankfully, the good people in Financial Aid and in the Business Office made sure I got some additional funds AND that I didn’t have to wait long for the check. I had heartburn for awhile, but in the end dodged yet another bullet. So thanks, Doug and Sherry. Also, I have to thank my friends Letty and Jonathan for sympathizing during my financial aid meltdown…ok, meltdowns…there were a few. And a special heart-felt thanks to Mike for being a God-send.
Well, that was the down side of the roller coaster, but then I caught an upswing. I finally got a call from the third of my potential summer internships. They already knew I had accepted an offer but they wanted me to interview anyway and maybe they could offer me more to go with them. That made me feel really good; however, I politely declined since I’ve already committed to the City of Austin. The recruiter was gracious and promised to contact me early next semester to remind me to re-interview.
That same day I was offered the position of State Bar of Texas Law Student Division Junior Representative for Texas Wesleyan, which I accepted. I’m looking forward to the opportunities this will provide for me to plug into the legal community outside the law school, and in particular, back home in Austin.
I had the first part of my Civ Pro final tonight and I think I only missed one! Afterwards, Martha, Karla and I completed our Discovery Group Project which is due Monday. There are a few more things that fell into place since last blog, but it’ll have to wait, it’s been a really long day. Nite!
3/24/10 - I managed to smile coming back to school on Monday. I guess it’s sort of cheesy, but I think each new day holds such promise that I can’t help but anticipate the various legal doctrines waiting for me in these classrooms. Spring Break was a success because I went in with a plan and stuck to it. My outlines are current for all four of my classes and the memory of the hours I spent outlining is still fresh in my head, so I’ve been diligent to continue all week. After all that work I did take a few days off to relax; the road trip with my mom and aunt was a blast.
This weekend I got a registered letter from my home owner’s association. This is never good—it’s either a bill or a complaint. Apparently “someone” has complained that my yard needs attention. Immediately my law student hackles are ruffled because while I’m accused of a “violation” I am denied the due process of knowing my accuser’s identity. There’s something un-American about that.
Moreover, to me my yard looks fine considering we’ve had one of the wettest winters ever. There have been times, admittedly, when it was shameful, but this is not one of those times. In my reply to the complaint I pointed out that I would happily mow, edge and weed my lawn but for the fact that it is still dormant. Thus, I presently have no lawn. Seeing as the first day of spring was Saturday (and it was rainy and cold), I argued that the state of my yard is consistent with what one would expect at this time in the season. I also suggested that the Association was either 1) camped out in front of my house stalking me, or 2) my newest neighbor has no life and is looking for non-issues to gripe about. The point being, there is a lot of gray area between a manicured and an overgrown, unkempt lawn and that’s where I fall; therefore, this is not a violation. Let’s see how far that gets me!
3/10/10 - I wish I had a DVR remote control for life. This weekend my family drove me nuts and I suspect they have been snatched and turned into vicious Time Suckers—I’d like to put them all on mute and pause.
I stayed up late Friday studying knowing my oldest son had dress rehearsal for UIL band competition on Saturday. I took my book to read while at the band hall and that worked well, so I decided to treat the family to a movie and then get back to outlining. I managed to enjoy the show, but getting home and trying to study proved next-to-impossible with this group. Even though I closed myself off in the bedroom, the dog ran in, the kids were back and forth, and the other parent in the house was tired (8:30 pm) and wanted to go to sleep. Huh? Can’t you see all my stuff set out, my computer on, and the fact that I spent most of today doing stuff with and for y’all??? UGH!!! So frustrating.
Well… there I went, moving all my stuff and changing venue to the COMPLETE other side of the house. Sometimes these guys really don’t get it; few who aren’t in law school do get it. As the first person in my family to go to college, the concept of law school is so remote that I might as well be learning Greek. As frustrating as this is for me, it must be just as, or more, for them. Mom can’t just drop everything and go to the park, watch TV, or whatever. And when I say I need to study, guess what? I really do. Seriously.
I have tons to do this week so that by Wednesday of Spring Break I can meet my goal of having all my outlines up to date. Then I plan to have some fun for two days on a girls’ road trip. Wish me luck! Speaking of…15 minutes after submitting my last blog, I got an email offer for a PAID, full-summer internship with the City of Austin. Happy dance!
2/24/10 - The middle of the spring semester is a really weird time. There are so many things on the horizon: summer school (yes or no?), internship or job, Spring Break (catch up or relax?)—I feel like I’m in a perpetual state of “wait.” Except for classes that continue pressing forward daily, it’s a challenge to stay in the moment.
Last week I was offered an unpaid 6 week summer internship and I’m excited about that. I know you’re thinking, “excited” about working for free? While the internship is unpaid there are available avenues to get stipends. This weekend I’ll be working on my Fellowship application which is one way students can get funds for taking non-paid public interest jobs. So, what’s “exciting” about the offer is the opportunity to be named as a Fellow and to learn about another area of the law in a new setting.
I also went on a second interview for another internship and got to meet all the attorneys in that office. As it turns out, I knew a couple of them in my life before law school which was a welcome surprise. I’d be happy with either placement so I’m hoping the dust will settle soon and things will start falling into place.
I was totally caught up outlining Property on Friday which lasted until Monday; now there’s more. I’m also trudging along in my other classes and treading water successfully. My Civ Pro professor has assigned a project to accompany our study of discovery. We’re in groups and have a fictional case for which we have to draft two forms of discovery. I know 1Ls didn’t do this last year, but I think it’s a great idea and will give us a chance to apply the things we’re learning in class.
This is Day 2 of the February bar exam; I’ve been thinking about and praying for my friends who are in the middle of the storm. The whole Texas Wesleyan Law community is pulling for our grads--best of luck to all of you! Make us proud!
2/10/10 - Last semester in my Professional Responsibility class we studied the Texas Lawyer’s Creed, which is essentially a mission statement for the legal profession. The Creed outlines lawyers’ professional responsibilities to the legal system, clients, other lawyers and the judiciary. The concepts were abstract to me then, but recently I came across my handout and one in particular caught my eye: I am responsible to assure that all persons have access to competent representation regardless of wealth or position in life. What does that mean and how does one strive to consistently meet this objective, when in many cases the bottom line is all about money?
I got a call from my aunt who was hit by a car in November. Two law firms have dropped her case. We talked at length about their possible reasons since neither firm has bothered to explain why. As a future lawyer I understand the economic logic of rejecting a case when its facts may make it difficult to win, but where does that leave the victim who’s been wronged and can find no advocate? Are we as a society OK with people getting run over by a car and left on the hook for medical bills, time away from work, and a decreased quality of life because the end result may not net huge dollars for the firm? I don’t think so, and it seems that’s not the profession envisioned by the Creed.
In reality, most cases don’t show up neat and tidy so that you get the big pay day with minimal work. I’m not saying that you have to take every case that walks in the door, but at minimum, every potential client deserves your honesty and your professionalism whether or not you take their case. It’s easy to forget, but each file in any firm’s office represents a real person with a real issue that changed their lives – otherwise they wouldn’t need legal representation. I hope I never become so “seasoned” and so “professional” that I forget that being a lawyer should be less about money and more about helping people.
1/27/10 - On Sunday when I looked at my schedule for the week I wanted to cry. There were so many things to do I just knew there wasn’t enough time in the week to finish. If I were being overly cynical I’d say that it wasn’t much more than I do in any given week, and that instead I was feeling down because it’s the end of an era. Yep, Monday was my birthday and for my big 4-oh I had my normal 3 hour commute, three classes, a meeting with Professor Rambo and a Westlaw promotions table to host with my fellow student rep., Jonathan.
Once I decided to just put my head down and plow through the week though, it wasn’t so bad. Actually, Monday turned out pretty great. My awesome group of friends made my day by whisking me away from campus for lunch, cake and presents. It was pretty nice getting all kinds of birthday wishes from my friends on Facebook. And as a perk of being in a small school, I couldn’t walk down the hall or go into a class where somebody didn’t wish me “Happy Birthday.” Talk about feeling special!
I have three interviews set up for Thursday and Friday in Austin. I’m anxious to get my summer plans in order so hopefully one or more of these opportunities will get the ball rolling. I can’t let these interviews cut into my study time though and so I’ll be hauling my books along and working as if it were any other school day. I’m happy to report that as of my last posting I have kept true to my promise and am outlining weekly. I hate having this hanging over my head, but I know that come finals time these outlines will be my anchors, so I’m putting in the work early and consistently. Law school is all about discipline. Sigh.
A special thank you to all my family and friends that made this birthday week really great for me. Now though, I’ve got to get back to the books—onward and upward!
1/13/10 - Hello spring semester! What took you so long to get here? I am one semester away from being halfway done with law school. Whoohoo!! Even though I’m having a blast, it’s nice to see this milestone approaching.
I have to report that I completed several of my goals during the break: I finished my John Grisham novel, polished up my resume and writing samples, and applied for several internships. I’ll find out later this week if I have any interviews, so keep your fingers crossed because any one of these opportunities will allow me to stop commuting for the summer and stay home in Austin. Also, I applied for several that would allow me to work on constitutional law issues; my pulse quickens just thinking about that. (I say this even though our ConLaw grades from fall have not yet posted and I have no idea if ConLaw likes me as much as I like it, but at this point, let’s just assume that the feeling is mutual!) I’m going to be working diligently this semester to set up an exciting summer for myself and right now everything’s in flux which makes me very nervous.
Speaking of nervous…with the first week of classes comes (of course) its share of seating chart stress; this is turning out to be a more widespread phenomenon than anyone let on at first. There are more of us out there. Thankfully, admitting this is a problem is the first step to recovery!
I’m taking Property II, Civil Procedure II, Wills & Estates, and 1st Amendment as my elective. I’ve designed a better schedule this semester and have built in lots of study time during the day. I’ve also decided that Friday is my review day for the week which will include outlining. Hopefully, keeping on top of the work will help me tie ideas together throughout the semester. I want to begin this semester with the end in mind and since I’ve put this out in my blog, I’ll feel guilty if I don’t follow through. You gotta love internal motivation! All for now, I’m off to class.
12/16/09 - I’ve been gone from the law school less than a week and it feels like forever. When my Property exam finally rolled around, I was so beyond exhausted it was like welcoming death; I just wanted it to be done. Law school exams are very much like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get. It has less to do with how you did personally and more to do with how you compare to others. After three semesters I’ve yet to predict my grade on an exam, so I’m not even going to try. Instead, I’m going to stay “law-free” for the semester break. Yeah, right!
Monday I took my son to participate as a juror in our YMCA Teen Court. The kids have already been found guilty of their offenses, usually drug/alcohol-related, and they go to Teen Court for sentencing. The whole court is run by kids including the judge, jury and lawyers. It was really cool to see these 13-17 year old kids handle court procedure so well; I was impressed. Not only did it give my son a glimpse into the legal process, I can’t think of a better life lesson than being part of a jury called to deliberate on another kid’s fate after he broke the law. As my son will be 13 on Sunday, I think this was a powerful experience that won’t soon be forgotten. On the ride home I asked about the factors they considered when deciding the number of community service hours to assess. He said they considered whether the kid was remorseful, whether he was a good student and if he had a history of trouble. They thought that the maximum hours should be reserved for those that showed no remorse and/or were habitual trouble-makers. Wow. What insightful kids.
The holidays are in full swing back at my old office with a luncheon or potluck every time you turn around. I am enjoying my time without a law book in my face. Unless…does John Grisham count? Wishing you all a blessed and Merry Christmas.
12/2/09 - Well, it’s crunch time people…and I’m in the thick of things. Finals began on Monday with the remainder of Civil Procedure. I think it went well, but a three hour test in the evening sure wears you out. I’m not commuting during this week or next and am staying with my friend, Leah, in Dallas, so I’ve had more time to study. With no classes to differentiate one day from the next, I didn’t even realize until this evening that it’s already Wednesday. I had a couple of things on my calendar that had to be done today, and well, they weren’t.
It didn’t help either that I was basically incommunicado today because the weather threw a wrench into my plans. I was on my way out when Leah informed me that it was snowing. So, I did what any normal Texan would do in such a case: I got my camera. After taking a few pictures and marveling at the huge flakes, I refocused and got back on track. At the gas station the snow continued to fall and although it wasn’t sticking, it made me reconsider getting out in the weather. I grabbed some coffee and backtracked to the house. Lucky (or not?) for me, I have no internet at the house and so I had no choice but to work on my ConLaw outline with no temptations from Facebook or email. It took every ounce of will I had, but right around 7:30 PM I received my reward: a fully complete outline…all 64 pages worth. Now, I just have to memorize it by Tuesday. Yay!
Next week I have my last three finals and Fall 2009 will be on the books. ConLaw and Property are mountains in my path, but I shall overcome. Right now, there’s more studying to be done. I’ll be back to work at the University of Texas System after finals. I can’t wait to see all my friends again and celebrate the end of another fine semester. Until then, keep the emails coming and keep sending all your positive energy!
11/18/09 - Today was a really rough day. We took part one of our Civil Procedure final exam in class and I learned that one of my law school friends is having difficulties with his son. The baby’s been sick for a few months and they don’t know why. We recently saw pictures of him in his Halloween costume and were hopeful that he’d gotten better, but he hasn’t. Having two sons of my own, I can’t even imagine what the family is going through. All day our group of friends reminded each other to pray and several times I tried, but I couldn’t get through it without my eyes welling up. I took my exam with a heavy heart and suddenly all those questions about jurisdiction and venue seemed so insignificant. After class and alone in my car I was finally able to add my prayers to the mountain that I know have been sent to heaven today. I’m sure I did fine on the exam, but it got me thinking…
It is so important to reflect on the blessings we have. Our families and the connections we build with our law school family are what make this journey worth it. These friends I’ve made here will be my friends forever. After working so closely and intensely toward a common goal, it’s impossible NOT to bond - you’ve gone through the fire together. We know when someone in our group is sick, when their kid is in the school play, when company’s coming over and what’s for supper. You need these small glimpses of reality to keep your feet on the ground when you’re on planet Law School. So, I am thankful for my faith, my family, and my friends.
I’m taking Thanksgiving Day off, but will be studying hard for finals until then. Studying resumes on Black Friday (no shopping for me) with my first final on Monday after Thanksgiving. Please keep me and my little law school family in your prayers as we struggle through the last few weeks of this semester. Happy Birthday, Karla and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
11/11/09 - I’m getting that feeling I’ve come to know as “maximum overload.” This is the time in the semester when you want to stand up and say, “Enough! I’m full. Let me empty some of my head out before you give me more!” Sigh! I’m trying really hard to stay on top of things and simultaneously organize and prepare for finals. I’ve got flash cards falling out of my pockets, hornbooks are my constant companions, and my drive time is spent listening to ConLaw and Property CDs. This is how it will be for a while. Until then…life goes on.
I have to say a Happy Birthday to my mom--just ‘cause. This morning she delivered my oldest son to school for his basketball tryout and then stayed for the Veteran’s Day assembly and band concert in which he played. We were all pretty subdued this morning since we had a late night. My aunt was hit by a car on Sunday as she was crossing the street and well, I just felt like my mom needed to see her sister. So we went to San Antonio and had dinner with my aunt and uncle.
While listening to her story my mind began spinning questions: “Were there witnesses?” “Is there a police report?” “Was he drunk?” “Were you in a cross-walk?” While I was also concerned about her injuries, it’s like my attorney-in-training mind just went into over-drive. I was careful to offer only suggestions because I’ve found that now my “opinion” can take on a new significance. People look at you differently as if being in law school means you suddenly “know.” Heck, I know just enough to get me in trouble, so my “advice” to her was to get an attorney because she needs someone to advocate on her behalf and I’m just not there yet.
As I close out this update I’d like to congratulate our Texas Wesleyan Law alumni that did phenomenal on the bar. With the third highest pass rate in the state, I am so proud to be a TWU Law student.
10/28/09 - I feel like this week’s blog is a classic example of conflicting law. Last time I wrote about using time productively. Today, I must confess that lately I’ve been less than productive with my time. Now that I’ve painted myself into a corner, like a good law student I’m back to my original premise looking for a loophole: What exactly did I mean by “productive?”
I guess realistically there comes a point where you hit a wall. It can happen many times throughout the day, a week, or a semester. Monday and Wednesday are such long days for me. By the time I sit down in the evening to read for my next day’s class, I have a small window of time before the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Pushing past that wall will cost me more in the way of sleep and added exhaustion, than I gain in useful study.
Then there’s the wall you hit when you’ve been studying diligently for months and you suddenly feel so burnt out that everything’s a distraction. Yesterday my friends, Karla and Martha, and I gave in. We had two cancelled classes, a cold front blew in and it was a dreary, rainy day so we decided to have lunch away from campus. Then, that turned into “We should go to the movies.” After the movie, I “needed” hot chocolate and of all the random things, Karla wanted “birthday cake.” Hours later we were back at school with books laid out regretting our time away. We’ve not yet forgotten how hard we worked to get into law school and we actually felt guilty thinking about all those that would love the opportunity to be where we are. It’s like you’re letting down a whole bunch of people, even those you don’t know, when you waste one second of this experience. In the end we decided that there were worse things we could have done and that sometimes you just have to give yourself a breather so that you can come back stronger than ever. After all, tomorrow’s another day.
10/14/09 - I love fall. Unfortunately, college football (Hook ‘em Horns!!) and baseball games (Go Yankees!!) every weekend are a major distraction for me. Luckily my trusty planner helps me make the most of every day. With so many competing interests for my time, planning is vital. As I’m typing this I’m sitting in my car in the parking lot waiting to pick up my son from school. I’ve spent all day in the library, and in the 15 minutes before the bell rings, I think I can get this blog done. That’s the way it is; any small block of time can be productive. And really, once you get into your studies, it’s almost weird if there’s “nothing” to do.
For example, last week was Teddy Bear Immunity week. One of our student organizations held its annual teddy bear sale to collect money for charity. Students buy the bears and turn them in for “immunity,” i.e. participating professors promise not to call on those with bears. I participated in two classes: Property and Constitutional Law. I didn’t really need or want a pass in Property, but Prof. Short opted to give the whole class immunity if he got a certain number of bears, so I did my part. Con Law…well, that was all for me. I really love my Con Law class and Prof. Rambo is just awesome, but wow - that reading is so dense it takes a lot out of me. Even when I think I’m well read for class, Prof. Rambo can squeeze out nuances that just never occurred to me. All day Wednesday I anticipated going home and having no Con Law reading. I was in bed by 9:30 PM but unable to unwind with this nagging feeling that I left something undone. Even knowing I had my immunity bear safe in my briefcase, I couldn’t relax and enjoy my well-earned sleep. Bummer. If I’d had my book, I’d have just gone ahead and read. I clearly can’t do “nothing”—it’s just way too stressful!
10/1/09 - Recently I was on a student panel for prospective students. They asked why we chose Texas Wesleyan Law. For me, discussing law school admissions brings back not so pleasant memories. I’d heard the statistics: law schools receive thousands of applications each year and accept only a fraction. Anyone who’s done any research knows that getting into law school isn’t easy.
It all seemed so intimidating to me especially as a non-traditional student. Although I felt that my work experience proved I’d be an excellent student, I worried that the gap since my undergrad would make law schools wary about giving me a chance. It took a couple of admissions cycles before I got positive results and each time I applied I wondered if “this” time the Admissions Committees would get it right. The waiting was always excruciating.
The turning point was some good advice from my former boss and mentor. She said I should decide what was more important: being a lawyer or attending a specific school. What a simple concept. You see, up to that point I had been trying to add law school to my existing lifestyle. I loved my life in Austin and wanted to stay there. Thus limited, I never even considered what law school would suit me best if it meant leaving Austin. It’s like buying a house you hate simply because you love its location. While location is important, most of us want to find both a good location and a home whose attributes we love as much or more. Until I started looking for my law school in this same way, I overlooked a lot of good places, including Texas Wesleyan Law.
I believe that God has a path for us all, so once I surrendered to His plan and stopped trying to force mine, things fell into place. Not only did I get admitted to law school, but I ultimately chose the right place for me. I found myself in Fort Worth with new friends and surrounded by faculty and staff that work hard to help me succeed. So I compromised (a bit) on my location, but in exchange I found a “home” that suits me just fine.
9/16/09 – It’s a month into the semester and I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m not yet comfortable saying that 2L year is “easy” compared to 1L, but it is different. I think it’s dangerous to think that you’ve got it all under control; to do so fosters a false sense of security and makes it oh-so-easy to start slacking. Then, like a sneaky undertow in the ocean, finals arrive and you realize that you are drowning in work that has to be done.
I did a mental check this week and feel satisfied with where I am in all my classes. There are a couple that admittedly need a bit more attention from me, but overall I’m keeping up and don’t feel that sense of panic I felt last year. I think this comes from putting some of my 1L study skills into practice early in this semester. Reading cases and picking out essential elements is easier; however, I find it’s still necessary to brief cases and outline my courses. While there’s still plenty of work, I get more done in less time.
There’s always other stuff to take up that extra time though. Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz among my classmates about how their families are coping with the time demand that law school requires. Everyone’s family is fine with law school in theory, but reality can be quite a shock. It’s not for the weak or faint-hearted. I’ve seen some of my classmates in tears because of a family blow up or sick kids and I’ve listened to their frustration as they struggle to meet so many obligations within a finite amount of time. Law school is by definition a community of over-achievers; it’s hard to find yourself in a situation where you can’t do it all yourself. Consequently, this experience, more than any other that I’ve known, requires unwavering familial support and understanding. To all my friends that have been having a rough time with things, know that “This too shall pass”—we’re all in this together. Thanks to my family for (mostly) holding down the fort.
9/2/09 – Speaking of stress, law school offers a variety. The other day I laughed with my friend Megan about “seating chart stress.” Thank you, Megan for voicing what I’d been feeling all first week. Besides schedules, new subjects and the crushing work load, first week means seating charts. If you don’t get a good seat, you lump it for at least a semester, if not the whole year. I found myself getting to classrooms a ridiculous 1.5 hours early, anxious to make sure I got “my” seat. Now as a 2L there’s the obligatory “save me a seat” from all your friends and that adds more stress. So there I am with a laptop in one spot, a book bag in another, my calendar and pencil bag thrown on that chair, and if someone doesn’t get here quick I’m going to have to start taking off my shoes!
I know this sounds just nutty, but it really serves a purpose: For me and for lots of others, we want to sit where we’ve got the best chance to learn. Law school classes are dense with complicated concepts; to let your mind wander for just a few minutes is to risk missing out on some important (i.e. testable) information. I have to sit close to the front so I can see and hear the professor. I focus better if there are less distractions and being in front forces me to be prepared because there’s nowhere to hide. Some people like seats at the end of a row, others like the back, and others want to be near an AC vent or under a light…we all have our preferences.
Anyone outside of law school might not understand how this is a big deal, but thanks to Megan who summed it up by saying, “What’s wrong with us?!” I’m relieved to know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Professors think that the chart is for them, but really it’s for us. I happily printed my name on the class seating chart and felt the weight shift (just a bit) from my shoulders.
8/26/09 – While waiting for my admissions decision I discovered the 1L blogs and got my first real sense of the Texas Wesleyan Law community. Now, as a 2L I’ve been invited to blog and am very excited about the opportunity.
First, some background: I live in Austin. Yes, “live” as in present tense. My home and family are in Austin, so twice weekly (sometimes, weakly) I commute round trip to school in Fort Worth. I’ve been lucky enough to keep a four day schedule for the last three semesters. I know, it’s crazy, I hear it all the time, and yes - it is; but I have two sons (ten and twelve) and it’s important that they see me everyday—even if it’s for 15 minutes in the morning before I head off to school. On Tuesday and Thursday, I’m home in time to pick them up from school AND manage to do so in compliance with all traffic laws!
I’ve worked in various legal settings, but for the last seven years before Texas Wesleyan I was the Public Information Coordinator (PIC) for the University of Texas System. As the PIC I wrote hundreds of legal briefs to the Texas Attorney General. This intensive writing background was a very handy skill to bring into law school and greatly helped me with my 1L legal writing class. Not that it was any easier, it just wasn’t an unfamiliar concept.
My goal in this blog is to share my thoughts and insights about this wonderful law school experience. I am so blessed to have this opportunity. Earning a law degree is a great thing, even if you never want to practice law. However, for those like me who have spent large chunks of time around lawyers and the law, there is a certain comfort in finding your niche. I know this is what I want to do and every day, every case I read, and every piece of the puzzle that falls into place, I am closer to the finish line. I hope you will enjoy the ride as much as I do.