law school happened

November 6, 2010

I graduate in six weeks. Looking at my last few posts from late summer and early fall 2008 (which are now archived since I imported my law school blog posts) it is like another world. The law school preparation, the nerves about student loans and books and studying, it all seems bizarre now. Today, I am a mother of a ridiculously adorable toddler, and almost an attorney at law. And those are just the big changes. Don’t get me wrong, I am still stressed. We are approaching the end of the semester, people. But it’s the impending change, not the fear of an exam, or writing a brief, that occupies my thoughts. And in times of transition, I must write. Unfortunately, the 100+ pages of substantive legal, essay and research writing I have done this semester have not quenched my cathartic writing needs.

So in two plus years, law school happened. I have some new friends and lots of new thoughts about things. And so much new knowledge. I have acquired the lawyerly thought process that is basically the output of law school (but no one tells you that before you start), which I both love and despise. I am no longer an ordinary person that thinks and speaks like everyone else. (I’m not saying lawyer-think is better, it’s just another thing entirely).

Lately as I talk to classmates about graduating in December people respond: “Oh yeah, you are done!” And it’s true. It’s basically done. It already happened – all that slow, incremental change to become a lawyer. From the first week of 1L ,when I had to literally figure out what exactly plaintiffs and defendants were, and then vendors and vendees (and now settlors and trustees and issue) and when the excessive use of the term “reasonable” seemed hilarious (now it seems natural!) and when the idea of accomplishing so much reading and thinking, in order to prepare for one test at the end of the semester, one test that would judge one’s performance, seemed terrifying and unreachable.

But law school doesn’t really make you a successful lawyer, there’s way more to that. So much that I am about to learn. But in six weeks, I will be certified, in a sense, to practice law. As much work as I have to complete between today and December 15th, it’s basically over. This is all just tying up loose ense. I have learned what I came to learn. I am about as ready as I can be to go into the world and be an immigration lawyer. That makes me scared, and it should. As much as it is frequently abused, becoming a professional is serious business, and I take it seriously.



Monday came so quickly

August 25, 2008

Well, my time off is officially over. I’m off to Madison today to get organized in my apartment before orientation starts tomorrow.

Last night I lay awake wondering how I was going to live off this loan check for the next four months. That is probably the scariest part of this whole thing for me. Those of you who know me in real life probably realize I am not naturally thrifty. I’ve been trying to prepare myself for the adjustment to not spending money but it’s really hard for me. I just have to do it. No shopping, no eating out, no lattes, etc.

Once I get in the swing of classes I’ll likely be too overwhelmed with reading to even consider spending money.

On that depressing note, off to get ready to leave!

hump day of week off

August 20, 2008

Weeks off are a thing of beauty. Monday morning I biked to the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum downtown to meet my friends and their respective children. I considered bringing my precocious nephew Carlos but thought I might be too out of breath from chasing him around for three hours to actually talk to my old friends. It was really fun to watch the kids interact though. Great museum too….

Monday afternoon I ran some errands and went to the beach. I don’t think I have ever been to Bradford Beach, or any Milwaukee beach for that matter. Lake Michigan is still polluted, and the water didn’t look (or smell) too appealing, but they’ve cleaned up the beach and it was quite pleasant to hang out there reading “A Civil Action” and banishing a tiny bit of the whiteness from my legs.

I’ve spent many hours reading “A Civil Action” which is required for my Civil Procedure class. It’s actually quite an interesting book, and I’m rather enjoying all this reading. It’s been a while since I had hours and hours to devote to a book. Usually I read my books slowly unless I am on vacation, when I will tear through several novels in a week.

Yesterday I started sanding those pesky stairs, which really didn’t take so long with my trusty sanding mouse.

Then I went to get primer for the stairs. Painting the front of the stairs is way more annoying than sanding. I estimate I will finish this job a day or two before classes start. Not so fun.I also played around in my garden. I have a lot of spotted leaves on two of my tomato plants, which makes me very sad, but I don’t have time to worry about it besides trying to remove all the spotted parts.

Today I slept too late, read some more of my book, signed up for university health insurance (shockingly quick and easy) went to get my hair cut and made chicken nachos for dinner. Today I was pretty lazy actually.

Tomorrow Fermin is taking off from work. Besides the day he threw out his back earlier this summer, he has not called in or missed a day. He just told me that he told his supervisor, “I have stuff to do tomorrow.” Hmm… normally, this might make me nervous, but I’ve heard that at least two other employees there have repeatedly no-call, no-showed for days at a time and still kept their jobs. At least he was honest and gave a day’s notice?

The whole idea of him taking a day off happened when we ate at our favorite Thai restaurant the other week and heard our favorite waitress mention their lunch buffet to someone. Our ears perked up, then we realized we have jobs and lives and can’t lunch together on the south side. Then I realized it was almost my week off, so I could indeed lunch. Then he decided he would take a day off during my off week. All in the name of lunch. The buffet at the Thai restaurant better be good. Well, it will be good to spend the day together too.

So, just wanted to check in. More news later this week.

night class might be fun after all

August 4, 2008

I just received a mass e-mail from one of my professors. It includes a few short power point + audio lectures introducing the subject matter of civil procedure. This is the same professor my mentor decribed as “unorthodox” and “fantastic,” and I’m guessing from the background music (Bob Dylan “Buckets of Rain”) and the random jokes interspersed through the lecture, I’m going to love this guy. If I can look forward to even one class twice a week, my weird afternoon/evening schedule might be worth it. And if I end up having off on Fridays…

Introductory legalese

August 3, 2008

Is there a course in this? I’ve been going through “Legal Writing in Plain English” by Bryan Garner for months with my two blog-buddies KEL and Lisslo. It’s an activity-based book, with short passages and exercises on methods to avoid wordy, confusing and boring language. (As I wrote that sentence, I took out an offending “of” phrase, which I practiced this week).

The exercises contain sentences like this: “In the absence of any proof to the contrary, the court should presume that the administrator’s functions have not ceased.”

Seriously, I had to re-read like five times to figure out what it actually described: “Without contrary proof, the court should presume that the administrator’s functions continue.”

In a way this summer has been about re-calibrating my brain for legal language. As Mr. Garner explains, law students spend years learning to comprehend legalese, and then must battle to avoid spewing more of it into the world.

I’m a bit afraid of what law school will do to my writing. It’s important to be precise, but just as important to be understood. Working through the exercises in this book, I’ve noticed there are many bad habits I naturally avoid, but several that I regularly participate in. There are other phrases, like the use of many negatives, that I just have a  hard time wrapping my brain around.

So please, if I ever use the phrase (from Garner’s $^it list) “during such time as” or “are in mitigation of,” please gently remind me to return to planet earth.

it’s all happening so fast!

July 30, 2008

Just when I was feeling that my tenure at my job would never end, that the summer was crawling by, that I would never get to law school, it all snuck up on me. Last week I was busy planning a bridal shower for my dear friend Jen. I got my class schedule thursday night, which inspired a few not-so-productive hours of trying to find information about my professors on the internet. The weekend, with the shower and a family barbecue on a perfect Sunday, flew by.

Sunday night I decided I should do myself a favor and take a week off between finishing up at work and starting law school orientation. So August 15th will be my last day at the ‘Mart, and I’ll have a full week to get stuff done around the house, pack whatever I’ll need in Madison, and get somewhat settled in Mad-town. Suddenly, the the 15th seems alarmingly near. I have lots of things to do to transition out of my job, but chances are I will save most of them until next week and those last five days. My customers are in very good hands around here, so there’s no reason to worry. Not that I would worry… okay maybe I would. For a few weeks. It’s in my nature. The same way I wondered how my Qdoba was doing in sales for a few months after I quit.

The saddest part will be not spending eight hours a day sitting between my work buddies Jenni and Joel. I will especially miss participating in our ridiculous chats about work, life and vaccines. And also, most importantly, laughing silently but hysterically when we find the perfect random image to express ourselves from the internet:

Yes, that is an inside joke. No, I will not explain to you.

In other news, I’ve gotten a few bits of good news regarding my schedule. The first is that I received an e-mail from my 1L mentor (who knew such a thing existed?!), and she had the same Civil Procedure professor I will have. The report: “very unothodox” and “very fantastic.” Excellent. I’m also starting to adjust to the idea of afternoon and evening classes. My plan is to join a class at the SERF pretty early in the mornings, and once I get up and work out, I will be up for the day. I’m hoping this will help me fight the nature to start sleeping late again.

not quite what I was envisioning

July 26, 2008

So I received my class schedule last night. I’ve always had the idea that my first year of law school would involve more or less a work day of classes, followed by several hours in the library, five days per week. Well… not exactly. My classes begin at 1:20 Monday through Thursday, ending at 6:30 with an hour break, except  Wednesdays, when class goes until 9:00 p.m. Oh my…

I’m still not sure how I feel about this. There are up and downsides. The best being three nights in Milwaukee rather than just two, because I can return to Madison on Monday mornings rather than Sunday nights. The worst is the fear that I will sleep in rather than get myself to the library in the mornings.