Esquired.

Bar results came out yesterday and I PASSED!

it's a celebration

Because you can’t be excited without referencing Dave Chappelle as Rick James.

Hugely relieved. Results weren’t due out until today, and I actually went to the website just to see what time they’d be dropping and saw the link. I scrolled down the list in slow motion and there my name was! Texas actually gives you your score and I actually passed by a comfortable margin, which was a nice ego boost. Husband and I went out for dinner at Cheesecake Factory to celebrate. Still in a state of disbelief- I’ve been dreaming of this day for so long and it finally happened. I’m a lawyer. Of course, my friends and family never doubted me. I was 75% sure I had passed, but it’s such a grueling exam and I had to learn new law since I was coming from out of state. Plus, this was a hard bar year- passage rates were down a full 10% from last year! Oh well. This news has made my month. I’m out of J.D. limbo and I feel like I finally have some job options. I’m a lawyer, y’all!

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Building your dream life

Life after law school actually hasn’t been a disaster. I was starting to get pretty bummed; I had started applying to secretary and paralegal positions just to get some money coming in and fill the gap on my resume. One day last month I went on Idealist.org to peruse the listings and came across one for an internship at a local nonprofit. The application deadline was in 2 days, and it only paid a $100/wk stipend. However, it was for a programs and development intern to do grant research and help with the administration of the organizations monthly and annual outreach events and projects. In short, it was exactly what I was looking for! So I went to the interview, and despite being late to an interview for the first time ever in life* they picked me! And two other interns as well.

But I love it! I have several projects planned out for the duration. I’ll get to do some grant research and writing and I’m being trained to run orientations for our mentoring program, as well as career workshops.  I haven’t done very much with these so far because two huge annual events are back to back this year and it’s been all hands on deck. What really struck me is that every day I’m excited to come to work. I’m never watching the clock waiting for 5pm to come, even when I’m doing grunt work like sorting office supplies or putting together charity auction packets. I’m energized in a way that I never felt during my judicial externship or my time interning at the legal aid clinic. I love the people, I love the work and I really hope that this leads to a full-time position here or at a similar organization.

This week, all my law school friends will be taking the bar, and they’re excited about becoming Esquires and formally entering the profession. Me? I’m not in a hurry to take the bar. I originally planned to take it in February 2014, but may have to defer until July due to financial issues (that ish ain’t cheap, y’all, and we’ve still got wedding stuff to pay on top of regular bills). I still plan to go ahead and do it just as a safety net. But even though mediation and family law would be a career I could live with, it’s not the one I really want. What I want is do nonprofit management and public policy. People have asked me, can’t you do both? But the reality is that law is something that’s really hard to do just “on the side”. Even something as simple as a will for a regular working class family could take 40 billable hours to finish–that’s a whole full time week on just one case. Bottom line for me is that I’m just happier not doing law, and I’m okay with that. The world doesn’t need another unhappy lawyer.

 

 

 

 

*It was in an area I’ve never driven to, I made two wrong turns and then got caught at every. single. light. I called in once I knew I wouldn’t make it though.

Divorce is for rich people

[Now would be a good time to remind you all that I AM NOT A LAWYER AND THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. This is purely my own opinion and should not be relied upon in any legal situation!]

What is the value of a marriage? Should we take into account:

-The intangible cost of sacrificing the complete autonomy of singlehood, and

-Increase/decrease in earning potential as incurred by a working/nonworking spouse

-Money saved through tax breaks & sharing of the household bills

Whenever a celebrity couple splits, people get up in arms over how much money the man has to pay in child support and alimony. “Baby clothes don’t cost $10,000 a month.” “She shouldn’t be able to live off that man the rest of her life.” Etc, etc. It’s really annoying to me because I don’t think that child support and most alimony are usually unreasonable.

As far as child support, I take a hard line stance for sure. Women don’t make babies alone and if a man is able bodied, why shouldn’t he be compelled to support the people he helped bring into the world? I don’t care how bitter the divorce was, or how much you hate your ex, NOTHING should get in the way of providing for your child. Not your dislike for ex, or your remarriage, or anything else. (Oh, and by the way- paying your child support is not a substitute for spending time with your children!) Where alimony is concerned, it’s just “cheaper to keep her.” Think about the type of lifestyle you want to have and choose your mate accordingly! Penelope Trunk wrote brilliantly about how to pick a wife and how to pick a husband if you want to have kids. It’s very practical and debunks our cultural narrative that marriage is solely about love. If you want to have a full-time stay at home spouse, be prepared to shell out alimony in the event of a divorce because the court recognizes that staying out of the job market is an economic sacrifice that negatively impacts your future earning potential. When you marry someone (educated or not) and allow them to be a homemaker, you are taking on the responsibility for their standard of living. They keep the house and kids orderly, you bring home the money that pays the bills. That is the implied contractual agreement. Alimony, in a sense, is paying back the benefit you’ve received during their marriage from the other person’s sacrifice.

Divorce can be devastating not just emotionally, but financially. During my externship in the fall, I sat in on divorce court and it really drove home to me how expensive divorce is. Attorneys cost a grip but in this economy, a lot of people are just barely able to make it because of the savings, benefits and economies of scale that living together as a married couple provides. After a divorce, both parties end up living on less than half of what they were living off of together, and if you didn’t have a huge income to begin with that’s a serious problem. Regular folks have more to lose than celebrities, and I think more people should talk about  prenups. Notice I said “talk about” instead of “get”. That’s because the real root of the issue is that not enough people talk about money before they get married, despite it being one of the top causes for divorce. Discussing your credit score, how many kids you want to have, and how you might handle relocating for your career isn’t cute or fun or sexy, but it’s necessary. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Justice can see just fine

 

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am not licensed to give legal advice. This is a commentary on basic theories put forth in legal education. Absolutely nothing in this post or this blog should be construed as legal advice.

Alrighty then, let’s get to it. As a black person, law school completely shatters any remaining notions you may have had that justice is blind and impartial. Bullshiggity. As my AP US History teacher told us, “The Constitution was written by and for rich white male property owners.” Despite amendments to the contrary, it remains that way in fact. The problem is not so much with the machinations of the legal system as with access. Except for cases of criminal defendants, lawyers ain’t free. You gotta pay to play in the court system.

Sometimes (okay, make that a lot of times), what’s legal isn’t always right or fair. For instance, unless you work for the government your boss can do just about anything short of harassment. Unpaid overtime? Consistently changing your hours at the last minute? Making you reschedule your vacation even though you put in for it six months ago and have someone to cover your work? All legal, and doubly so if you’re in an “at will” employment state (meaning you don’t sign a contract to work for them). So what if that baby isn’t yours…if you were married when she was born, you gotta take care of her (assumed paternity). If you promised your baby mama that you’d pay child support as long as she didn’t take you to court and later found out you weren’t the father…sorry, you’re a daddy now! Pay up.*

The latest legal issue to irk me is the Wal-Mart wage discrimination case. The Supreme Court denied class action certification** because the class, which was thousands of female employees, was unmanageably large. Having just finished my second semester of Civil Procedure, my legal mind gets it. We owe fairness to the defendant as well as the plaintiffs, and trying to decide how to provide relief in the form of money damages would be problematic. Trying to prove that Walmart had an overarching policy of discrimination that trickled down into the management of hundreds of thousands of stores, is problematic. However, Walmart is a multibillion dollar international corporation. In order to ensure efficiency and uniformity of management, common sense says that if you can find more than one store in more than one state that discriminates against women, they’re all doing it. At any case, that’t the crux of the issue to be tried! Courts are supposed to be efficient, but we live in a world of Big Business and the courts have a responsibility to adjudicate the big messes they create. And they shouldn’t get to brush off a case simply because it would be hard to prosecute.

 

*How in the world you can sleep with two men before getting pregnant and believe one to definitely be the father “in good faith” is patently ridiculous to me.