The random thoughts of an architect-turned- lawyer from the deep south living in Washington, DC...
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
HumblingI was in the middle of writing a post whining about 1Ls touring the library and being loud...when I got an email from a college sorority sister who came to DC to visit a few weeks ago. She was asking for my prayers because her father, two uncles, and grandparents are trapped in their house in New Orleans.
Yeah, my problems are pretty trivial.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Stupid hurricaneTo my friends, family and readers back home...I'm thinking about you.
UPDATE: WOW! What great friends I have. Thanks for all of the phone calls & emails today. My family (and the friends I have heard from) are just fine. Killer (the dog) was terrified and that makes me sad. Otherwise, my parents only lost the fence behind the house, which they decided to replace anyway!
And so it begins......again! I know that technically I had class last week, but it was only one class (two days and I skipped one of them) so I will just pretend I was still on "vacation" last week. Tomorrow, I start for REAL. New highlighters have been purchased; my lock is firmly on my locker; my syllabi have been printed; IPod updated with good study music; $ added to my GWorld card so I can hit the diet cokes in the vending machines and my behind is planted firmly in a corner table at school. I guess there is just no getting around it now. School is back in!
I am taking some really cool classes this semester, so I am a bit excited about that. From reading about drunk & cocaine-induced jury deliberations to Martha Stuart to whether the US should be able to exclude countries from contracts in Iraq if they did not stand behind us in the war, this should prove to be an interesting semester.
I must say that I think it is really cute how all the 1L's have found their comfortable quiet little spaces to study in the lounge areas. Too bad that will not last considering these areas will soon be transformed back the zoo-like atmosphere of "face-time" and keg-stands that are merely a few of the staples of law school life. Ahh, so good to be back.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Big DecisionMy favorite anonymous commenter asked if I was going through the Fall Interview Program for gaining legal employment next summer. After seeing the length of my answer, you may regret having asked that one:-)
The situation: I was a summer associate in a great firm this summer. Despite the stress of juggling school, I had a wonderful experience. A few days after my summer associate-ship ended, I received a phone call from Summer Firm (SF) offering me a position in next year's summer associate class. While I was extremely excited to receive such an offer, it did present me with a few options and fairly difficult decisions. Considering next summer will basically start my legal career, this is not a decision to be taken lightly. I immediately told SF that I would definitely be returning next year either for part of the summer or the whole summer.
The dilemma: Is it better to accept the offer and return to SF next summer or to go through the Fall Interview Process?
Options: Work for SF all summer. Do a split summer between SF and another firm. Do a split summer between SF and study abroad/just travel. Move to Iceland for the summer and hook up with a tour guide named Jon (which is probably not a legitimate option considering his teeth were bad and I'm not real big on missing teeth.) If I do a split summer, I also have to consider which half to do at which firm. This is important considering one of the strong points of summer associate programs is the bonding that occurs within the class...this usually takes place in the first half of the summer.
Everyone around seemed to say the same thing: I should do a split-summer with SF and another firm. I guess I do see the benefit in that it affords me the opportunity to see another firm. On the other hand, in my most simple thoughts, "but, I don't understand...if I really want to work at SF, why can't I just go back there?" To land a position at another firm, I would have to give up a lot. I would have to intensely do research and interviewing that would interfere with my school time which is a stress no one wants. But more importantly, doing a split summer would mean only 6-ish weeks in each place. Can you really get to know a firm well enough in 6 weeks? Add to that the fact that SF is on a really high pedestal in my eyes, so it would take A LOT for another firm to convince me in 6 weeks that they are a better place to work.
Advice: I turned to a fellow "legal scholar" for advice on the issue. In his SIX PAGE cliche ridden advice email, he made some very valid points:
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I found a really good thing in SF. I cannot emphasize enough how much I loved it there. When I questioned what I am looking for in a firm, they pretty much had it all. The people were great; for the most part, the politics of BigLaw firms was missing; I loved the projects I worked on; I found a mentor who deserves a post of his own; I found a practice area that I think will be my future career and I think I will excel in; the location could not be beat; the firm is a nationally ranked firm that is on the rise in both rankings and financial situation. Most importantly, these people are real.
Think about not being a dog at the trough. He was speaking of stepping out of the way and not sucking up interviews that others may receive. Furthermore, firms have set numbers of interviews AND people in their summer class. These numbers are based on their hiring needs for first year associates. Do I really want to eat up a spot in another summer class without a true intention of returning to that firm? (I know that lawyers are supposed to be selfish and only look out for ourselves and all, but it really isn't in my nature. I would not feel good about myself having a firm invest absurd amounts of money and time in me if I pretty much already have my mind made up.)
You may want to take some time to make sure you can articulate the reasons why you want to do a split summer. Doing this was an important eye-opener for me. During any interviews, I would inevitability be posed with the question in one form or another: "Why are you not returning to SF?" Now I could probably come up with any bogus impressive answer, but it is important to me to go into this process/my future honestly and with all my cards on the table. I do not want to sit in front of a interviewer and lie and furthermore, it would be really difficult to convince an interviewer that I REALLY want to be at their firm when I am not convinced of that myself. If I cannot think of an honest answer for myself as to why I want to do a split summer, then is there really a need to continue?
Other advice: Turning to more pessimistic advice: lawyer ex-boyfriend did bring up a good point. He reminded me that no matter how much I loved SF and they loved me, things can happen. I could end up with no offer at the end of next summer due to budget problems, work performance, or personality conflicts (I think he threw that in on purpose). He's right though, just because I got invited back now, does not guaranty post-law school employment. Then, if I do not get an offer, how would I even begin to explain that in an interview?
My thoughts: Honestly, the above is a risk I am willing to take at this point. SF went out on extreme limbs and in essence took a risk hiring me. West coast head office had implemented a new "no hiring 1Ls rule". SF went to them and after some prodding, got them to grant an exception for little ole me. This says a lot to me about the firm. When they see something in someone or when they put their faith in someone, they really go to bat for that person. That is an amazing and rare quality to find in a BigLaw firm. The least I can do at this point is return the favor.
Although my decision is not completely made, I have decided not to participate in the On Campus Interview process. Bad timing, on top of too much work and not being really impressed with the interviews I received/didn't receive in the bidding process is making me sit out on this one. I would welcome any thoughts as to whether or not I am doing the right thing since it is not too late for the rest of Fall Interview Program if I have made a grave mistake!
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Start the biddingAfter an intense Property class this summer, it is refreshing to know that I can read something like this and understand what it means (well, sorta):
"...will acquire, by quit claim deed, grant of right and title to the famous property... Once the new owner records the deed with the DC government, he or she will enjoy legal preference over any similar claimants, as per District of Columbia Code § 42-406."
However, not sure how this would work considering the idiot is trying to sell the deed to THE WHITE HOUSE! Best part: he's a Canadian.
Thanks to L-cubed for this gem.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Happy one-year to meWhy do people call the one year mark a blog-anniversary and not blog-birthday? Either way, I'm sure you are sitting there saying "crap, I knew today was special for some reason" and "crap, I didn't get Law-Rah a gift". Calm down, you can give me something now. Click on the WHERE ARE YOU? on the right side of the blog---> and let me know where ya at! C'mon, it'll be fun.
PS - having Sitemeter, I already know where most of you are anyway, but would love to hear it from you:-)
Sunday, August 21, 2005
What exactly is "success" in law school?I sat on a "Law School Survival Skills" panel on Friday where I answered questions for a bunch of wide-eyed excited 1Ls who have absolutely no clue what they are in for. They asked all kinds of questions and we attempted to ease their anxiety by going over what worked or didn't work for us, what to expect from and how to handle law school. The truth is, it really does depend on the person. There is no secret formula to make the first year of law school any easier. The only advice that I really have is to hold on tight because it is going to be a bumpy ride. You will read more than you ever have before, and not understand most of it for a while. You will struggle to make sense of everything and keep your life organized, which I assure you is an uphill battle. You will invest in countless various office supplies to attempt to sort through and organize your thoughts. Your eye sight will diminish two-fold and you will develop back problems due to the un-godly weight of casebooks. Your eating habits will go to crap, you will not get the sleep you are used to, your world will become the law and you lose a lot of your conversational skills with the outside world. There are, of course, little things here and there that can help ease some of the inevitable first year changes. For the most part, though, you have to figure those things out for yourself.
With all of the discussion of what to expect, most people are leaving out what I found to be the most difficult part of the first year of law school...namely the emotional turmoil. I recall my orientation this time last year. The dean stood in front of hundreds of us and said "you are at a top law school and you are used to being at the top of your class. Understand that you are competing with the best, so the rules have changed and not all of the top students can be at the top anymore." Not only did I fail to grasp the true meaning of his warning, I had no idea how I would handle that situation when I was thrown into it, nor did I anticipate needing to. I am generally a happy person and always tend to make the best of situations. I am a dreamer and an optimist. My first year of law school tested all of this and at times, it just plain broke me. It is very hard to hold your head up high when there are so many forces trying to bring you down. People will judge you based on arbitrary methods that do not at all reflect whether you will be a good attorney one day. People measure your worth by a number, rounded to the hundredth decimal point, that is based only on a three hour exam and how all of your classmates did in relation to yourself. Adding to the absurdity of it all, exams rarely reflect how well one knows the material or the law. (I can get a B on a test that the professor told me in conversation prior to the exam 'wow, you really know this stuff' and an A on a test I don't finish.) I realize it is almost impossible for your own self-worth to remain in tact when such importance is placed on these arbitrary standards.
Law school is another world, one in which hard work does not always pay off. That can be a really hard thing to accept. You can put in hours upon hours of work or preparation and not make that skills board or not do well on an exam. You sit there, stunned...so sure that you had nailed it this time. Then, you begin to question things and the worst part is just not understanding what went wrong. I am not even sure there is an explanation most of the time. You wonder if it's even worth putting forth the effort anymore. But then, you turn around, start the cycle over again and just keep on trucking. That's why you are in law school in the first place, your ability to keep on trucking. Everyone talks about "succeeding in law school". Perhaps success is just getting through it. Granted, only a small percentage of people can say they will graduate at the top of their class. At the same time, only a small percentage can say they graduated from a top law school AT ALL, or any law school for that matter. The thing you really have to keep in perspective is that law school is merely a three year stepping stone to more important things. In the grand scheme of life, your "success" within the walls of the law school does not define you or the attorney that you will one day be.
I would like to wrap this up by saying despite the negative ramblings above, I do still love law school. I am meeting wonderful people, I am learning a lot and, most importantly, I am growing in the process. There have absolutely been bumps along the way, but at the same time, I have come to be proud of myself and my accomplishments thus far. In a lunch this summer with my mentor, he said "yeah, grades and law review and moot court do matter, but some people have all of that, but when it comes to being an attorney, they just don't 'get it'. I think we all lose sight of this once we are within the walls of law school, but I like to think that despite what my transcript says, I do, in fact, just "get it".
To my friend hanging on to your "hope for the future, that there will be a time when i will not be judged- when I will not judge myself- by my failures in an abstract academic exercise"...in my most cliche voice I say: the time is now. You know as well as I do that you are worth much more than some law school exam:-)
Thursday, August 18, 2005
FlexibleOkay, I cannot decide if this website is:
a) the coolest thing I have ever seen
b) the absolute creepiest thing I have ever seen
c) just plain mesmerizing
d) all of the above
If she gets stuck, click and drag her anywhere. (Thanks to Serenity Now for the link.)
Today, life is grande.After stuffing myself full of sushi last night, I got the full night sleep I have been awaiting all summer. A whole 8+ hours. It was amazing! I got up this morning early enough to chat with my roommate and then headed to the gym. (Pretty shocked I remember where it was considering it has been so long.) After the gym, I swung by the apartment and picked up my clubs to head to the driving range. Today is such a beautiful day in DC. Perfect day to play a little golf, then drive around this gorgeous city with the windows down and the radio blaring. I came home and fixed myself pork tenderloin and broccoli and sat at the table, moving aside the job offer letter from summer firm to return next summer:-) Life is looking good.
Then, I look at the date on the Post and realize I have to go back to school in less than a week. World. Crashing. Down. AAAAAAAAAA. Gotta put life on hold again. Arg! I feel like I just finished school. Oh wait, I did. My final exam was on July 28th. Not nearly enough days have gone by to have to go back. Then, all these crazy professors of mine keep posting the first week reading assignments implying that I need to get my books and start reading NOW. I won't do it. I refuse to get my books yet. Yeah, you heard me! I'm not going to get them until...um... tomorrow. Yep, because while tomorrow may suck...today, life is grande!
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Worst . Day . EverI used to like flying. Between school and work, this was one of my low stress times to just sit and read a magazine or listen to music. Boy did that change today!
I had meticulously chosen my departure and arrival times. I would leave Houston around 2:30pm since that was convenient for sister in law to bring me to the airport. I would arrive in DC around 8:30pm because I could get a ride and have dinner with a friend. I should have foreseen disaster when sister in law said something came up at work and she would have to get me to the airport earlier. Three hours earlier. Ugh, what am I supposed to do at Hobby for three hours? So, I made sure my cell phone was charged and my camera was charged since electronics are a necessity if stuck in a lifeless airport. When I checked my luggage, the man said "is this food? is it perishable?" Yes sir! "Okay, I have to tell you that we cannot promise it will not perish. But, I'm looking at your flights and you should be fine, I don't foresee any delays." I realized I would have to grab lunch at the airport since we left before I was hungry. Choices at Hobby: cold pizza that has been sitting out for an hour or salad with brown lettuce. As I walked back and forth between the two, my purse suddenly got lighter. Mostly, because the strap broke and my purse was no longer on my shoulder. This is the last time I spend a significant amount of money on a purse that will not withstand being carried on a shoulder.
After my ghastly lunch, I cracked open a book and cranked up my Ipod. About 30 minutes later, my Ipod quit singing to me. I looked down to see that the battery was dead. WHAT? It was the "you forgot...to hook up...the doll" moment. With everything I had the forethought to charge, I forgot...to charge...the Ipod. So, I did what anyone would do, I scooped up my purse with both hands since I no longer have straps and I moved to the empty terminal away from all of the chatty people hidden in a corner so I could read in peace. Then, the people followed. Apparently, when people see quiet parts of airports they immediately equate it with prime cell-phone-talking real estate. Not just that, but they do that movie theater/church pew/bathroom stall faux-pas where they ignore the 50 seats in the rest of the area and choose to sit right smack dab in front of me. Jackass! I am trying to read. MUST you pace back and forth on the phone with aunt suzy RIGHT in front of me? Luckily it was about time for my plane to board so I headed over.
As I approached the gate, they were boarding the flight at the gate next to ours. A 2:39pm to Atlanta. Hmmm, that's funny, I'm on a 2:35pm to Atlanta and we aren't boarding yet. I guess AirTran is on top of things a bit more than Delta today. I look on my Delta screen and it says next flight leaving at 4:23pm. Wait, wait, wait...so confused. "Ladies and Gentlemen, due to the weather in Atlanta, air traffic control is not allowing any flights in. We will be delayed for at least two hours," belts out the Delta dude. Then, the AirTran guy says "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are still boarding and do intend to fly this plane to Atlanta." What the hell? First thing that pops into my head is that Hobby is a really crappy place to get stuck. Second thought is of the $60 worth of perishable food I checked. Damnit.
So, I go ahead and get in line so Delta guy can re-book my connecting flight I will obviously be missing. Of course, said line takes 30 minutes to get to the front where I can finally plop down my strapless purse. "Ma'am, we will be getting you in to Atlanta at 7pm and we can re-book you on the 9:30 flight to DC." I am pretty sure (in an effort to NOT take my frustration out on Delta guy) my only response was 'whatever'. Then he said something else and I said 'whatever'. Then, there was an awkward silence between me and Delta guy. To try and make things not weird, I decided to start idle chat. I said "so, out of curiosity, how come they got to leave at 2:30 and we didn't?" At this point, Delta guy turns into the devil. Smoke starts coming out of his ears and he yells "I have no control over the weather! I just do what air traffic tells me to do!!!" At this point, I stuck my finger in his face and said "you need to calm down." Then, I realized I was no longer talking to my 2-year old niece and that I had actually just reprimanded the Delta flight agent. Oops. (Note: in the above paragraph, the only exaggeration for dramatic effect was the smoke from his ears:-) (Seriously)
With some time to kill, I bypassed the quiet, cell phone raided, corner I had found and headed straight for the bar. I drank and read. It was nice. Flight was great. That is, if you don't count the facts that it was ASA which insists on conserving plane space by putting seats WAY too close together...AND I was in the last row of the plane, in front of the bathroom...AND I had no window...AND the woman in front of me reclined her seat the whole time. Yeah, great flight.
Atlanta was uneventful aside from that one woman and her daughter who frantically showed up at our gate (A01) for their flight only to find it was moved to gave A27 and the daughter yells "c'mon mom, let's go" dragging her mom who is yelling "you Delta bitch" to the agent at gate A01. 'Twas a quiet night. I got on the plane in Atlanta and was surprised to see it was fairly empty. I like fairly empty flights. Then, at the last minute, the guests we were waiting on arrived. A whole freaking slew of boyscouts* boarded. They were all in their uniforms and had apparently been hiking and not yet bathed. I discreetly sprayed perfume in the air hoping it would not alert the terrorist watchers. Of course, since the three most obnoxious boyscouts ever spawned were sitting behind me, the plane got stuck on the tarmac for an hour and a half. Could life get any worse? Yep. The boyscout behind me found a glitch in his seat in which the radio (instead of demanding headphones for your listening pleasure) would just blare right out of his seat. To make sure all of his boyscout friends got to hear, he kept turning it up and up and up. Then, he said "look, I can provide a radio for the whole plane." I turned around and this idiot was a full grown man in a boyscout uniform. Aside from this troop leader looking like a fool, when he realized I heard his radio, as did we all, he giggled. Seriously, the man giggled. I shoved sweatshirts and blankets in the cracks between the seats so as to drown out as much noise as possible. By now, I had completely finished my book that I began at the start of this dreadful day, so not only was I annoyed, but I was bored. I sat there, secretly hoping he would start kicking my chair so I would have a reason to go postal. Apparently, someone else complained and they cut off his access to the radio. *note: I never actually had anything against boyscouts prior to this flight.
I was happy to finally arrive in DC at 12:15! I called friend, who was originally supposed to pick me up at 8:30 and told him I would understand if he didn't want to come get me. I was happy that he did anyway. No sooner did I say to him "this was the worst . day . ever" when he was approached by a cop who gave him a ticket for having an expired sticker. Sorry again, friend! So, I think it is best for me, and anyone else around that I go to bed now.
(There was ONE good thing that came out of all this madness. I found out the perishable-food-items bag I have rocks! After being out of the freezer and in that bag for over 12 hours, my crawfish fettuccini and cajun sausage are still frozen:-)
Friday, August 12, 2005
Blogging from the homesteadWell, my time in Baton Rouge has almost ended as I am about to pick up the rental car and head to Houston. I would whine about the heat here, and there, and in between, but I hear it's actually hotter in D.C. right now. Although I was sick my whole time in LA, it was nice to relax and catch up on reading.
My mom threw a dinner party last night and had some folks over to the house for some good food and card-playing. She actually warned them in advance "watch what you say and do because Law-Rah is probably looking for blog-worthy material." HA. Now, Mother, did you not think I got enough material in my time here? Really? People here shop for their groceries at Wal-Mart. Some don't even get dressed to do it. (I actually did see a woman in her boxers - well, maybe hers!) Not to mention, that lady at the restaurant that offered her daughter crystal light "on the go" packets for her water so she could make her own lemonade. And my favorite was when I requested my family bring some cold medicine to the restaurant so I could pop a pill before dinner. Not only did they bring alka seltzer and ask the waiter for an extra water, but I embarrassingly downed the fizzy orange drink as my younger brother chanted "chug chug" as the restaurant looked on. Seriously, do you think I need more than that to give people a taste of the south?
So, I am off to H-town to spend time with the most precious girls in the world. I will be returning to D.C. on Tuesday evening if anyone wants to pick me up from the airport:-) Hint Hint.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
I'm sailing awayPartly because I went sailing on Friday and got some great photographs and partly because I feel like law school is sucking the creativity out of me, I took a few hours to play around in PhotoShop today (original photos on the left; click to enlarge).
In addition to color manipulation, I also added some movement to the sails. (Or maybe this was after a few too many Mohitos):
I really love this one:
It's amazing how a bit of vibrance can really enhance the image. It looks like a completely different day:
I like the sepia tones, but I especially like how some of the definition in the sails starts to pop out:
Although this scene looks a bit like something that should be on the wall at a beach condo, I do like the effect of the colored pencil:
You had to know I would add a wind filter to the sails:-)
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
I'm going to do it!...maybe.I finally called. I just picked up the phone and dialed the number. I have had it sitting on my desk for a week, but wasn't sure if I was ready to call. In fact, I was pretty sure I was not ready. I was so nervous. I am still nervous. I called yesterday and I asked for him. The man on the phone said he would be back in about an hour, did I want to leave a message? Not sure if he would remember me, I said "um, I'm not real sure. Maybe I'll just call back." Then, he asked if I just wanted to make an appointment. I told him this is huge for me and I'm just not sure if I am ready yet. His tone immediately changed and he said "oh my gosh, sweetie, hold on, hold on!" Next thing I knew, there were two other people on the phone telling me they would take care of me. They even called me an emergency. They said to trust them, put my faith in them, and they would not let me down. So, I set up an appointment. I am getting my hair cut on Saturday morning. This could very well be a hairdresser's dream come true. I said "I don't care...cut, color, do anything but shave my head." On the other hand, this could be a nightmare like that time I bungee-jumped (where everything looked awesome from the ground...but, then when I got to the top of the crane and the man said 'let go' I just froze).
For those of you who think I am being a drama queen about a simple hair cut, you must understand I have worn my hair long my whole life. Actually, that is not true. I have worn it long as long as I can remember HAVING hair. You see, unlike most little girls, I didn't have hair when I was a tiny Law-Rah. Not until I was probably three or four did I have hair at all. When most other little girls were into pretty barrettes and bows, my mom was scotch taping things to my head. Seriously. It is such a sad story. I had a little pink blanket fashioned and sewn in a way that I could put it on my head and the blanket would hang down my back. I would walk around the house and pretend to have long (albeit pink) flowing hair. My mother took me to the mall once and a stranger said "what a cute little boy" at which point I turned and griped "I'm a girl, thank you very much!" To think, I was old enough to talk and have an attitude, yet still no hair. Ever since I was able to grow the long flowing hair I dreamed of as a child, I kept it this way. Of course there were brief exceptions like the fourth grade and that bad incident with my mother and a home perm. (Not a good sign when your mom finishes your hair and then starts calling you "pubis alot-is".) Anyway, that is a story for another time.
For now, I believe the time has come. I am going to let Milan, the little drunk gay hair stylist run wild with my hair. That is, if I don't change my mind before Saturday morning.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Bar ExamsI keep reading stuff and seeing people who are taking/just took the Bar Exam and I think "wow, good luck to them" or "wow, I hope they did well." I didn't say anything over here because, quite frankly, I didn't think anyone taking the bar would be checking this out. OOPS!
So, for those of you who have been popping over from one of the bar exam sites that linked here...um, I HOPE YOU ROCKED IT! And moreso, I am sooo sorry for my endless whining about property when you were going through the same crazy Paula Franzese tips I was...only yours wasn't open book. How selfish of me! Seriously, glad it's all over for everyone:-)