Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Makes Me A Good Attorney

I remember how frustrated I was my first year of law school when I was, for the first time in my life, not in the top of the class.

I couldn't believe it. I wasn't just not in the top. I was near the bottom.

Did I all of a sudden get stupid? No, I still believe my intellect has not shrunk since beginning law school. Dumb people don't go to law school...often (statistically speaking...I still believe a few squeak by unnoticed, and sometimes even graduate!)

My priorities were different, and this was a whole different world to me. First year everything was new. I wasn't a fifth generation lawyer....I didn't actually know any lawyers when I started. I had to learn the very basics. I'd never seen a pleading before in my life. I remember pointing out to a friend how incredibly dumb it was to put "(" all down the middle half of the page to divide a header of a pleading. I asked her why we didn't just make a line...it made no sense. She laughed, said that's how it is done...and we moved on. The first of many times I had to accept that sometimes lawyers do things just because that is how it's done...and you don't change it.

Eventually I graduated. Still not at the top of my class. I moved up quite a bit, but still never put the extreme studying time into my classes that many of my peers did. I did other things. I started and sucessfully ran two businesses, spent invaluable time with my family, and most importantly my grandfather who passed away during my 2nd year. I didn't put my life on hold to become a bookworm. There were many....MANY jobs that wouldn't even look at me because I didn't have the highest rankings. Frankly, I wouldn't have been a good fit with many of them, because personality and ability to relate to clients was not something they considered.

In the end, I found a great firm with a great fit for me.

Still, for some reason, class rank is still important to people. I don't understand it, and I never will. Law school is on a curve, and there will always be 50% of attorneys that were in the bottom half of their class.
My transcript makes me a statistic, but my experience makes me an attorney. 
What makes me a good attorney?

Listen and Understand Your Client. To me, this is number one. You can't fix their problems if you don't understand what is going on. I see so many attorneys just talk and talk and talk until their client gets so confused that they just stop asking questions. They want to show off how smart they are. They won't ever admit they don't have the answer. 

Always Learn. I'm in general practice, I learn 20 new things every day. I'm finally to the point where some of that stuff I've learned comes back to help me later on. This field is complex and always changing....you have to keep learning. 

Organized. Nothing is worse than a deadline sneaking up on you. 99% of what you do as an attorney can be planned and prepared a head of time. Stay organized.

Communicate. After you listen to your client, communicate with them. I email/call clients constantly. I want them to know they need to tell me about their case. Especially with family law, I need to know about changes or any big events that occur during the case.

Work Hard. If you're not willing to be in the effort, this isn't you career. You need to be a strong advocate for your client, and be willing to work. 

If you graduated from law school, you know the rest. You know how to research, draft pleadings, make legal arguments. You can legally represent someone in court, and call yourself an attorney. However, a good attorney isn't a statistic. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

New Whovian Etsy Items

As you know, Kevin and I operate a thriving Etsy shop. You may also recall that we love Doctor Who. We were approached by Buildasign.com to review their products, and jumped at the chance! It took us a week to think and determine what Kevin would be designing for the shop (and for our own personal use) and we came up with this:

We love every single one of these. My personal favorite is the fridge magnets. The price on these were great, and I could see so many cool opportunities for fridge magnets. I envision brides using them as save the dates, or it'd be a great way to show off your business instead of business cards! 

Kevin LOVES how the decal looks on his blue jeep too! So fitting seeing as how its a big blue box (and bigger on the inside).

Our items arrived just when they were supposed to, arrived safely and looked great
Great product, great website, great prices! 

*this is a product review request. I received product compensation in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Extraordinary Rendition: Book Giveaway

In law school I decided it was time for me to branch out and learn more about the lawyer shows and books that everyone had been talking about. Lawyer shows often gave me the creeps, as criminal law is just to spooky and yucky for my taste! I decided to start with some John Grisham books. About 15 books later, I'm still learning about criminal law through these books :) 

That being said, I've loved reading fictional stories about lawyers. I was approached by the publicist of "Extraordinary Rendition" to share this book with my readers. One of you will get a free copy to read as well! 

What is the book about?
When Ali Hussein, suspected terrorist and alleged banker for Al Qaeda, is finally transported from Guantanamo Bay to the US mainland to stand trial, many are stunned when Byron Carlos Johnson, a pre-eminent lawyer and son of a high-profile diplomat, volunteers to represent him. On principle, Johnson thought he was merely defending a man unjustly captured through Rendition and water-boarded illegally. But Johnson soon learns that there is much more at stake than one man’s civil rights.</p><p>Hussein’s intimate knowledge of key financial transactions could lead to the capture of—or the unabated funding of—the world’s most dangerous terror cells. This makes Hussein the target of corrupt US intelligence forces on one side, and ruthless international terrorists on the other. And, it puts Byron Carlos Johnson squarely in the crosshairs of both.Pulled irresistibly by forces he can and cannot see, Johnson enters a lethal maze of espionage, manipulation, legal traps and murder. But when his life, his love, and his acclaimed principles are on the line, Johnson may have one gambit left that can save them all; a play that even his confidants could not have anticipated. He must become the hunter among hunters in the deadliest game.Written by no-holds-barred-attorney Paul Batista, Extraordinary Rendition excels not only as an action thriller, but as a sophisticated legal procedural as well. Batista’s keen legal mind and feel for suspense bleed onto every the page. Smart. Fast. Heart-pounding. A legal thriller of the highest order. (Description from Amazon)

I was also given a copy to read as well, who wants to read it with me? Enter to win by letting me know what your favorite legal book/movie/show is and why!

Giveaway will be open for 1 week til 8/5/14

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Letter to Those Taking the Bar Exam

I had a friend message me today who will be taking the bar exam this summer. She was going through what many recent graduates are going through this time of year...and they are probably going crazy. She asked for advice. There may be more people out there that need to hear this, so here is my letter to those of you that may need to hear this right now:

Hey! I know its hard, I was a total mess. I'd feel great about it one minute, and totally bomb the multiple choice questions the next minute.
That being said, I don't have a great answer for you. I walked out of the bar thinking "I 100% just failed this" and ended up doing awesome...better than most everyone I knew.
To me, it was putting in the time. I forget if you have Barbri but they have an ipad/iphone app with multiple choice. Sometimes I needed to get away, sit outside, and just run through them to do something new. Sometimes I needed to just play the video before I went to sleep and listen to it rather than watch.
I heard barbri questions were harder too (she had asked if it was true that Barbri questions were harder than the real exam) . I would have to say they must be, because I never did great on the practice stuff, but did well on the test. If you're like me, I was never very consistent. One day I'd get 30% of the questions right, the next was 80%.
I will not say that you will pass. I will say that you won't ever regret putting MORE time into studying. I passed with plenty of wiggle room, but I would not go back and exchange one day of studying for a day of relaxation.... every day that went into it could have been the day that made me go from passing to not passing.
That probably didn't help much, but you will get through it. If you're like me, nothing I can say will actually comfort you unless its a lie I can tell you by far passing the bar has been the best feeling I've ever felt, its a big accomplishment, and you CAN do it.

So there you have it. Those are my words for those of you taking the upcoming bar. If you'd like to go back and see what I was like during bar prep, I blogged a couple times as I was going through it-- Look here

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

1 Year Since Graduation

Still here, still lawyering! It has now been 1 entire year since I graduated from law school. 

A lot happens in that first year. If you have a job ready for when you pass the bar, that is wonderful! If not, you're pretty concerned with finding that first job. 

I have friends, like me, that took a job where they'd been clerking...so it wasn't a huge change. I also have friends that have switched jobs 3 times since graduation. I know of people that still haven't passed the bar, as it is only offered twice a year. 

A year ago I was fretting about the bar exam, and just starting the process of studying. It seemed awful. There was so much material, and seemingly so little time. 

This year was full of first. My first time calling myself an attorney, my first hearing by myself, my first time prepping for trial. I'm finally seeing cases all the way through. Its great being able to see all steps in the process now, from the initial client consult to the final resolution of their matter. 

For all of you studying for the bar exam, good luck! I won't say "You'll pass" or any reassuring comments...because I remember how frustrating those were to me. I can say...eventually it will be over. Study hard, commit the time to studying more than you've ever studied, and just go for it. I still think the best feeling in the world was when I opened the letter saying I passed :) 

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