Asked and Answered (Part One)

Posted on | May 5, 2010 | 5 Comments

Okay. I’m WAY behind on answering the lovely questions you all were so kind to give me. I don’t know that I can effectively answer them all in one blog, so I’m going to sort of… pick and choose. For this one? I am going to write about my job.

I got the following questions in my “Ask Away” post:

1. From Kiki: I’ve had a lot of lawyers tell me that I should have my first baby in between 2L and 3L. Apparently it will be easier to juggle law school and a newborn rather than a new law career and a new born. What are your opinions? What type of law do you practice? How did you know that’s what you wanted to focus on? Did you get a chance to study abroad in law school? If so where? If not where would you have wanted to study? If not do you wish you would have? Do you speak any other languages? Lastly, what advice can you give me as I prep for the LSAT and go into law school?

2. From The Chandlers: Why did you become a lawyer?

3. From The Mrs: What do you love about your job? What do you hate?
So you can see I got a lot of “lawyer” questions. Thus I give you… Ode to my life as a lawyer!

I will try, as always, to be as honest as possible. That being said, I do have a job that I love and would like to keep. So I will not be BRUTALLY honest, okay? Let’s start with The Chandlers question. Why did I become a lawyer.

I wish I could tell you some wonderful To Kill a Mockingbird-esque story about a realization that I wanted to improve the world and care for the downtrodden. I mean, I could do that, but it wouldn’t be honest. In law school I always said the cliche “I wanted to make a difference in the world” but that isn’t entirely accurate either. I became a lawyer because I wanted to make a difference in MY world. I am, by nature, pretty self-centered. I do care about other people and I would very much like to help them on a theoretical level. However, my reasons for attending law school were purely selfish.

Before law school, I was living in Orlando and selling burritos. There is not a thing wrong with selling burritos for a living, but it just wasn’t for me. I was so tired of always feeling like the people on the other side of the counter were judging me. They talked to me like I was stupid. They didn’t take the time to learn that I had a college degree because it didn’t matter to them. To them, I was just the girl who sold them their lunch and sometimes made them laugh. That wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to be on the other side of the counter. So I started thinking about how to get there.

I made a jump into Human Resources and met some really great people. One of those people encouraged me to do more with my life. She pushed me to think about what I was good at and what I might want to do with my life. I couldn’t come up with any “real” ideas (being a professional novel writer who can’t finish a novel didn’t seem lucrative or realistic; neither did lotto winner) so I started thinking about what I was bad at. The list was long. At the top of that list was math. Don’t get me started. I am numerically challenged. So once I ruled out math, I ruled out a lot of things. The LSAT, thankfully, does not have any math. That sounded right up my alley. Hence the law school decision. Not as glamorous as you were hoping, right? Oh well… I’m not all that glamorous!

Moving on to The Mrs. questions about my job. What do I like and not like. This is a loaded question because, as I said, I am gainfully employed which a lot of lawyers can’t say at the moment. I’ll start with what I like… I like the hours. There. I said it. How many lawyers can say that? I live and work in a small(ish) town. I come in to work sometime between 8 and 9 and I leave sometime between 5 and 6. If I am really busy, I will come in early or stay late. I rarely work weekends. My job is an anomaly in the world of law, don’t think I don’t know that! And I love love love the people I work with. They are hysterical. Seriously. We meet for lunch once a week and yesterday one of our senior partners decided that we should vote each week on who has the most interesting case. You can imagine how that went… there were people trying to out do each other with talk of strippers, mob bosses, fleets of Dodge Vipers, solicitation… and a lot of it was all fabrication. They’re wonderful.

I also love the kind of work that I do. I primarily do Workers’ Compensation defense. What that means is, when someone is hurt at work and the employer doesn’t think they really were, I defend the employer. And I enjoy it. For the most part I deal with small business owners who are just trying to protect themselves against insurance premiums going up. They are mostly down to earth, good people, who want to help their employees but only if they actually need the help. So it’s sort of the best of both worlds. I technically represent the “big guy” insurance company, but I deal with the little guy employers. And it’s a steady paycheck because of billable hours versus Plaintiff work.

Now for the hard part… what do I hate. I’ll be honest. I am not a confrontational person. In the legal field, that is tough. I would much rather try to amicably work something out than to get all huffy and yelly with another attorney. I tend to smooth things over rather than stir things up. My job, however, is often to stir things up. That goes against my nature so it’s hard for me. I’m also not a fan of public speaking so, again, this profession is not exactly “cut out” for me. I get really really nervous before hearings, trials, and even some depositions. As a result, my stress levels stay through the roof. I’m also constantly scared about malpractice because the scary thing about being a lawyer is that everyone ALWAYS thinks you know what you’re talking about. They take your opinion as Gospel. And sometimes? I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Sometimes I’m just hoping to get off the phone before anyone realizes that I’m so full of shit that my office is stinking. It’s terrifying to have people believe you all the time… that’s a lot of pressure on you to be accurate.

And then there are Kiki’s questions. All very very good questions that probably deserve a lot more attention than I’m going to give them but this is a really long post. First? The baby in law school bit. I agree and disagree. Having a baby during law school may very well be easier than having a baby during your first few years of practice… I don’t really know because I didn’t have one. I will say, however, that having a baby at home during bar prep sounds… HORRIBLE. It was hard for me even having a dog at home when I was studying for the bar. So I think it’s a toss up… do you want the free time to devote to bar study (which you need) or do you want the “luxury” of having less stress during your first year or two of practice. I can’t really answer that question because both situations involve a lot of stress. Sorry!!

As for what type of law… I mentioned before that I primarily do workers compensation defense. I also do some personal injury defense and have done a minimal amount of government liability defense. Basically? I defend insurance companies. And I most certainly did NOT know that’s what I wanted to focus on. In fact, in law school, I focused on taking as many classes that would prepare me for the bar as possible. I had no clue what I wanted to do. I just focused on passing the bar and getting a job!

Study Abroad is definitely an option in law school. I did not do it because I wanted the law office experience. I wish I had studied abroad in undergrad, but I don’t regret not doing it in law school. That being said, if you want to do International law or maybe even Immigration law, it’s a good decision. Any other type of law, you’re probably better off working for a firm in the States. As for foreign languages… no. Zilch. Nada. Absolutely not. I took a lot of French in college but I’m still bad at it. I wish I knew Spanish. I speak Southern pretty well, though.

And LSAT prep. I don’t really have a lot of advice. I actually didn’t do a lot of prep work for the LSAT because I was really very lazy before law school. What I did do was buy a book with a CD and I took a few timed tests just to see what was ahead of me. I’m sorry I can’t be more help on that front. I know a lot of people who took LSAT prep courses but I just wasn’t one of them. I might be more help on the applying for law school front, though. Apply EARLY. Make a list of your top tier choices, some middle of the road choices, and some very safe safety choices. Get your applications out as soon as possible. A lot of schools will either admit or deny you based on when they receive your application. You may meet every qualification, but they’ve already admitted ten other people with the same GPA and LSAT and they want someone else. So if you get there early, you have a better shot at your schools.

Phew. That was a massive. MASSIVE post. And for those of you who don’t care one bit about my law stuff, so sorry. You’ll get over it. 🙂 I’ll answer more questions as I feel able but for now, I’m off to work! Happy Wednesday….

Comments

5 Responses to “Asked and Answered (Part One)”

  1. KLZ
    May 5th, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

    I want to vote on who has the best case….fleets of Dodge Vipers sound so interesting 🙂

  2. Tiffany
    May 5th, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

    I was happy to see someone asked about your job. I have wanted to ask before. I started pre-law and made it one very long semester before I went running for the hills. LOL.

  3. Jamie
    May 5th, 2010 @ 11:41 pm

    Sounds like we work at similar places! I, too, love the hours I work as a lawyer. I am in the office by 7 and gone by 4! I go in early so I can leave early and be home with my babies. =) But we are on different sides of the law. I represent the employees!

  4. Lo
    May 6th, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

    Totally agree with your assessment that having a baby while studying for the bar would be AWFUL!! As what I call a "Stay at Home Lawyer" I enjoy getting the working mom perspective on things too. Your blog is great!

  5. Kiki
    May 9th, 2010 @ 12:04 am

    Thank you so much for answering my questions. I know there were a lot, and I appreciate you taking the time to answer them!

    You definitely helped me. I'm taking advice from everyone I can get! You made a very good point about studying for the bar with a small child around. I'm definitely thinking about that.

    Bisous,
    Kiki

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