Something Blue: Bringing Blue-Collar Roots to the Legal Profession – An Interview with Rexanah Wyse

For this month's post, I am delighted to feature an interview with Rexanah P. Wyse, a first generation attorney and former prosecutor dedicated to changing the narrative for vulnerable populations.  Rexanah currently works for the federal government where she serves on a policy team that is focused on youth homelessness, criminal justice, racial equity, human trafficking, and ending homelessness for families.   Could you tell Ms. JD blog readers about your background and what prompted you to apply to law school? My lineage is directly tied to Sierra Leone in West Africa.  A small developing nation with a powerful history of…

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What is the #1 Piece of Career Advice You Have Received?

After almost twenty years of practicing law at larger firms, I have been craving the freedom of setting my own schedule and the ability to work from home for a very long time.  My hesitation to go out on my own was rooted in the uncertain financial nature of self-employment. After several meetings with colleagues, I felt strongly guided that it was finally time to start my own practice. One colleague and I discussed working together on a contract basis. This arrangement meant that I would remain self-employed, but that she could give me a minimum amount of work each…

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Law School Activities

Several 1L law students have asked me what activities they should look into joining while in law school. They also have asked me the practical benefits of joining organizations in law school. The short answer is that joining an activity will significantly enhance the law school experience. Activities are a great way to meet new people and an even better way to strengthen leadership skills and gain practical tools necessary for the practice of law. What organizations an individual should join depends greatly on what you seek to gain from the organization. For instance, many law school students seek to…

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Millennial Women

On Mentorship

This month, we wanted to talk about something very important to millennials as we contemplate our professional development: mentorship. Quick note- mentorship isn’t the same as sponsorship, which is another important concept in career development (and maybe a future blog post?!). Sponsorship is where one party agrees to advocate for and refer work to another party. Typically, this looks like a more senior attorney at a firm, company or government office agreeing to sponsor a more junior attorney at the same place. This is different. Mentors don’t have to be at your workplace, don’t have to be able to give…

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Navigating Interstate and International Marijuana Sales

My home state of Kentucky, proud to be known as the birthplace of bourbon, crafts 95 percent of the world’s supply of America's only native spirit. Kentucky products dominate the market because they’re formulated with the perfect mix of climate, conditions, and the pure limestone water necessary for creating a high-quality bourbon. Interstate and international exports of bourbon are multimillion-dollar industries that are surging in our state. With  the evolution of marijuana legalization, attorneys looking to grow a cannabis practice could create opportunities for clients to similarly capitalize on interstate and international marijuana sales. Like Kentucky and bourbon, certain states…

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Susan Smith Blakely

Young Lawyers:  Ask for What You Want!

Asking for what you want?  Ah.  It is much harder than it sounds.  But, you must master the fine art of identifying what you want and asking for it.  Especially at work where every opportunity lost can negatively affect your career path. My friend Anne Loehr just posted an article about this, and I thank her for that.  As a leadership consultant to companies and firms, she has done a lot of thinking about this.  She isn't always writing for lawyers, but the same rules apply throughout the working world. Anne rightfully points out that the response "I don't care" is…

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How High: Calculating Marijuana Taxes

Notorious Prohibition-era gangster Al Capone reportedly bragged, “They can’t collect legal taxes from illegal money.” Capone learned the hard way that this isn’t true when he was sentenced to prison for tax evasion. Relatedly, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level but revenue from marijuana sales are taxable. Cannabis businesses that fail to understand and plan for these taxes are at high risk for an IRS audit, a massive tax bill, or even tax evasion charges for failure to report. Tax attorneys interested in cannabis law are needed to help these entities understand, plan and prepare for taxation. The following…

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The Mental Load: Learning to Say “No”

Learning to say “no” is touted as an essential component of reducing stress, overwhelm, and burnout. If you’d like to do a little brushing up on this concept, here’s a fantastic refresher from my friend Nikki who writes an amazing blog aimed at empowering women. Following her tips in your daily life will help you hone your “No” skills. But in the professional context, things can get complex. Apart from examining your true desires, following your intuition, and being honest with yourself and others, you’re flooded with extra factors and influences that can make a “no” especially hard to dole…

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Something Blue:  Bringing Blue-Collar Roots to the Legal Profession – On Foie Gras & Food Faux Pas

As I mentioned in my first blog post, I experienced heightened self-awareness about my blue-collar roots once I entered the legal profession.  For this month’s blog post, I wanted to share some of my awkward workplace encounters involving food.  I am fully aware that these awkward food encounters are trivial in comparison to larger socioeconomic issues such as structural inequality.  However, I think it’s important for us first-generation lawyers to share our personal experiences, frustrations, and lessons learned.     As a newly minted lawyer, I found that the majority of my coworkers appeared to possess sophisticated palates and expansive culinary vocabularies.  Casual lunchtime conversations typically revolved around food (in addition to work…

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Five Tips to Maximize Your Efficiency When In-House

When someone asks what in-house practice is like, I often reply that it is like drinking from a firehose. The legal department is the starting and ending point for a lot of projects and issues, and tackling everything that hits your desk without a game plan can feel daunting. While everyone takes a different approach to managing their workload, I’ve outlined a few tips that I’ve initiated during my in-house practice that help me maximize efficiency while in the office. 1. Keep Organized. Staying on top of your various task lists, emails, meeting invites, updates and follow-ups can feel like…

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