Nov. 20th, 2006 10:05 am
penda: (Cobra)
I'm an employment litigation lawyer for Bailey Pinney.
penda: (Default)
I'm a lawyer.
penda: (Default)
I am done with law school.
penda: (Sardonic)
So it turns out that a bunch of people I know are talking about going to law school. Apparently I wasn't clear enough when I was writing as a 1L (those 12 months of endless complaining, self-pity, and general misery). *snicker*

I'm not going to tell people not to do it, though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to do exactly that. People should go into things like this with their eyes open, though, so I'll point out a couple things that you might not have considered and give a few bits of advice I wish I was given.

The Curve and Grades: Want to avoid the insanity that most 1L's are mired in? Want to skip the period where your eyes roll back, your head rotates, and you start puking pea soup? Ignore the curve and your grades. Focus, instead, on learning the material. GPA only matters for your first job and for large firms anyway. Everyone else just cares about whether or not you're good at your job and whether you win. Hell, most of my misery first year was due to my obsession with grades. I'll let you in on a little secret. I have no idea what my GPA is. I haven't looked at my grades since 1st year. I assume they're decent since I haven't been kicked out. Abigail commented in shock on this fact, pointing out that I could be top-ranked and not know it. Honestly, I don't care. That, my friends, is the key to maintaining a chill attitude about law school. Ultimately, it's a machine that grinds you into a corp-lawyer, and grade obsession is their primary weapon. Deny them that power over you and you stand a better chance at retaining your perspective, heart, and ideals.

1L: You're going to act more strangely in your first year than in any other year of your life. You might as well accept it, because it is just a fact of life. It hits some harder than others, but it gets everyone. When you're in the middle of it, try to laugh it off and focus on the fact that when you're a 2L and 3L and beyond you'll chuckle (in an embarrassed way) about your behavior back then.

Relationships: If you like your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend... law school might not be the place for you. I can count on one hand the number of people who had relationships prior to law school that have survived through to the end. It doesn't matter how strong the relationship is, how much love is there, etc. Law school is absurdly hard on your loved ones. Especially that first year. It's probably harder on your loved ones ones than it is on you, because you're too crazy with stress to really realize what a bitch you've turned into. Most people wisely decide to cut bait and run. Also, some of you might be saying "Well, some relationships need to end." Very true. However, law school does not discriminate and I saw some relationships that seemed to be very good come crashing down thanks to the added pressure. It's equal opportunity, so don't expect a free pass. ;)

Changes: Life changes you, it always does. Law school will change you. It seems to weild a greater power to change people than most other situations. No one can say how it will change, but you'll change in some way. My experience has been that it takes whatever is buried and bringings it kicking and screaming to the surface. The deeper it's buried, the more kicking and screaming (I kicked and screamed quite a lot as my inner hippy came to the surface). ;)

Quitting: Don't be afraid to quit. This isn't a life for everyone, and unfortunately you don't know what it is like until you're in the middle of it. Dropping out after investing 25k is better than wasting 120k on a career you're going to hate. If you get the "Oh god, wtf was I thinking?" feeling, don't be afraid to look at other opportunities.

Material: Ok, this is key, and one I never considered. If you're interested in why illegal behavior happens, causes behind the need for legal codes, etc. Law School probably isn't the place for you. Look, instead, to grad school. Law School is a trade school. You won't learn why murder happens, but you'll learn the elements to what makes a murder. In that way, I found myself feeling I'd been thoroughly let down because I'm much more interested in why crimes happen than what the definition of the crime is. But that sort of "How can we fix this broken system?" question is much better suited to a graduate program.

Your Peers: All kinds of people go to law school, there is no true stereotype that you can lump people into. It does attract a higher percentage of people who have something to prove, though. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, mind you, it's just something to consider. Most likely in your lives you haven't been surrounded on all sides by people who are ridiculously intelligent, driven, and competitive. In law school you will be. My best peice of advice is to meet non-law students and hang out with them. Your life will be infinitely better when you start to build a social life that is distant from your law life.
penda: (Default)
Some of you knew that I've been working on a manifesto of sorts since I was in Thailand that would crystallize my political and moral stances into a single cogent message. As time has progressed I've become less willing to willing to put it all to paper, and I've found that the primary reason for that is that I don't want to preach. While I have very strong beliefs regarding the subject of my contemplation in Thailand, I also strongly feel that nothing is accomplished by preaching. As such, I've torn down my writing inch by inch until there was nothing left but the original idea. There is no grand essay on changing the world, I'm not igniting the page with revolutionary fervor, instead I've just returned to the concept at it's simplest form. I will share the idea with you, as it is something that is so close to me it feels as if it is written on my soul... so to know this is to know me. If you have questions, I will answer them but I will not write a massive essay on the subject and push it on people. There is no wisdom in that.

We, as lawyers (and lawyers to be), have a responsibility to the people of this nation and to the people of all nations to guide society based on ideals. No one wields as much power to change as a lawyer, we determine the fates of individuals and the masses with each case we try. But the majority of our number make decisions on cases and arguments based on monetary values rather than considering the social impact of our actions. We must wean ourselves from the teet of materialism and make our decisions based on something higher than a paycheck.

Our code of ethics carries with it an unspoken subtext that appears to have been missed by many people. We are expected to be more than human. In some respects we are modern day knights (champions for our clients) and in other ways we are priests (offering counsel, guidance, and some degree of sanctuary). We must embrace the truth of the profession we have joined (the truth that this is more than a job, it is a calling) and take responsibility for the power we hold.

We should be saviors. We should be heroes. But heroism only comes with fighting for a belief, and if you don't fight for a cause you believe in you're simply a mercenary. Acknowledging that, it isn't surprising that we're a hated profession. If we were to use discretion and wield our power wisely, however, we'd be elevated.

I don't care what you believe. I don't care where your politics or morals lie. Just exercise them when you wear the mantle of Officer of the Court, regardless of what is most profitable. Our voices, our conflicting voices, could lead society to Utopia if we could just withstand the urge to sell ourselves to the highest bidder.
penda: (Retarded)
[livejournal.com profile] inevitability's Course in Law for Relationships

I have never done any of the following and I do not recommend the following acts to be used in your relationships, but I find it damn funny and thought I would share my theories just in case any of you feel the need to turn your relationships into a legal mess of dysfunctionality.

Res Judicata
This is Claim Preclusion. Ok, so you get into an argument with your lover (we'll use a girl just for the sake of ease, not because of any sexist bent) and she nails you for spending all day on the couch watching Mork and Mindy. She chews you out for not taking her to see her parents. You apologize, she wins the dispute. The next day she starts to chew you out for not taking out the garbage yesterday. At that point you can claim res judicata because this second offense (the garbage) stems from the same Transaction or Occurence as the original dispute (Mork and Mindy and the parents). If she wanted to bring that claim, she was required to bring it at the same time as the parent argument but because she didn't, she's barred and has no claim any longer.

Collateral Estoppel
This is Issue Preclusion. So you got into a fight last week about vacuuming. You managed to win. This week she's mad at you again and in the middle of the fight she brings up the vacuuming again. This, my friends, is barred because the issue has already been litigated. She's barred by Collateral Estoppel. You cannot relitigate the same issue twice.

So you know for a fact that your lover got into an argument with parents over her responsibility in paying bills and lost it. The end result was she was deemed irresponsible. You and she later get into an argument over the payment of bills and she insists she's responsible. You can turn to her and say "I'd love to believe you, baby, but I'm bound by the decision of the higher courts."

Class Actions
The worst possible thing has happened. Your ex's have gotten together with your current lover and are comparing notes. They all decide they have a grievance with you over the same issue. "Oh shit" you think to yourself. However, you have a delay tactic available to you. You can insist they file for a 23(b)(2) Class action, since they are likely seeking equitable relief rather than monetary relief. This means that everyone, even parties not present, are bound by the decision. This also means that the proceedings will be drawn out to the point where they will likely lose interest.

Ok, so you are in the middle of an argument and suddenly you get blindsided with something that wasn't even part of the original fight. You can claim that this is barred by Rule 8(a) because if the claim isn't in the original claim you need to apply for the right to amend... and given that there is no judge it is unlikely she'll get the right to amend.

Also, when a complaint is brought to you by your lover you don't have to respond immediately. According to rule 8(c) you have 20 days to file your answer.

The dreaded Rule 11. She brought a complaint to you and it turned out to be total bullshit. No reliable facts. No reasonable claim. Just a total time waster involving lots of crying and you arguing until 4am. At this point you file for a Rule 11 Sanction. Usually these are legal (monetary) remedies. However, given the nature of relationships I'm persuaded that you could file for equitable (performance) remedies such as sexual favors, beer, or both.

Statute of Limitations
In most areas the statute of limitations for civil matters is 3 years or less. Anything that is beyond that point is out of bounds for any sort of argument or conflict.

Stare Decisis
The decision stands. So you've given her the boot. You just couldn't stand how she refused to put the cap on the tooth paste for one day more (or more likely you used these tactics and she gave you the boot). She's gone. A week later you get it into your head that you really miss sex. Jenna is nice and all, but it isn't the same as a real woman. So you think "I could probably get her back." WRONG! You're barred by Stare Decisis. There has been a decision made on this matter already and so you're bound by that decision.

Good luck!


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