mjtimko13

Something Blue: Bringing Blue-Collar Roots to the Legal Profession - Collective Wisdom of 2019

As a 2019 Ms. JD Writer in Residence, I had the privilege of interviewing some truly inspirational first-generation lawyers/lawyers with blue-collar roots.  I learned about their unique paths to law school and the legal profession, and the challenges associated with becoming the first person in their family (or possibly in their community) to become a lawyer.  These women also shared some great advice, which I compiled below.  It is my hope that first-generation attorneys will continue to share their stories and mentor and support other trailblazers who are climbing up the ladder.    Collective Wisdom of 2019: You Can Do It! “You deserve to be where you…

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mjtimko13

Bringing Blue-Collar Roots to the Legal Profession - An Interview with Jennifer Frankola Crawford

For this month's post, I am thrilled to feature my fellow CUNY Law alum, Jennifer Frankola Crawford. Jennifer is an experienced attorney, arbitrator, and human rights advocate with blue-collar/working-class roots. As an arbitrator, Jennifer hears cases and renders decisions based upon New York State’s Insurance Law. In addition, Jennifer maintains an active practice in education law, representing families of children with learning disabilities and developmental delays. Further, Jennifer engages in pro bono work involving human rights issues, including handling immigration/deportation cases, and she collaborates with other lawyers to design and host CLEs.  In this interview, Jennifer describes how her family's history, including her parents' immigration to the United States, influenced her career trajectory. She also offers excellent advice to first-generation…

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mjtimko13

Something Blue: Bringing Blue-Collar Roots to the Legal Profession – An Interview with Devon Holmes

For this month's blog post, I am excited to feature my interview with Devon Holmes, Esq.  Devon is a first generation legal professional from Hazard, Kentucky.  Devon serves as an attorney for Social Security Administration's Office of Appellate Operations and she is passionate about public interest law.   In this interview, Devon explains how growing up in Appalachia helped shape her career trajectory.  She also shares thoughtful advice to first generation law students.   Could you tell Ms. JD blog readers about your background and what prompted you to apply to law school? I was born in Hazard, Kentucky, a town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.  My parents were a…

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mjtimko13

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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mjtimko13

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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mjtimko13

Something Blue: Bringing Blue-Collar Roots to the Legal Profession - Finding Purpose and Giving Back

As I continue to move forward in my career and slowly chip away at my student debt, I feel more compelled to pay it forward.  I often wonder whether us “Straddlers” and first generation lawyers have a greater propensity to engage in volunteer work, perhaps as a way to reconcile the duality of gratitude (for how far we have come) and guilt (for what we may have left behind).    I attended a pro bono training several years ago, sponsored by an area bar association.  At the time, I had been feeling a little uninspired by the daily grind of my work in healthcare…

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mjtimko13

Something Blue: Embracing Your Blue-Collar Roots and Overcoming Self-Doubt

For this month's post, I wanted to write an article about "impostor syndrome."  While scrolling through LinkedIn, I noticed a recent post referencing "imposter syndrome."  Cue feelings of self-doubt.  So I quickly did a Google search of "impostor or imposter" and discovered that both versions are acceptable.  Nevertheless, my inner critic started questioning whether I should do more research (out of fear of making an egregious grammatical error) or, just select one way to spell it, be consistent throughout the post, and move on with my life.  Oh the irony!  By now, you're likely familiar with impostor syndrome and its prevalence in the legal profession.  In the 1970s, two clinical psychologist coined the phrase “impostor phenomenon” to describe…

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mjtimko13

Something Blue: Bringing Blue-Collar Roots to the Legal Profession - An Interview with Melissa Green

For this month's post, I am thrilled to feature an interview with Melissa Green, an energetic, enthusiastic, and compassionate attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability law.  Melissa is the daughter of blue-collar workers and the first person in her family to attend and graduate from both college and law school.   Could you tell Ms. JD blog readers about your background and what prompted you to apply to law school? I grew up in rural Maine and was the first person in my family to attend college.  After college I became a high school teacher for about six years, then applied to law…

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mjtimko13

Something Blue:  Have no shame in your networking game

Back home in Niagara Falls, I learned that it was somewhat shameful to get a job or any other advancement opportunity due to “having connections.”  Perhaps this is due to some deeply rooted “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality mythology that seems to exist in my hometown.  Nevertheless, I have since come to accept that this is simply not true.  Networking is integral to achieving career success in virtually any field, and this is especially true in law school and the legal profession. Believe me, I understand that networking events can be awkward and downright painful, even for individuals from…

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mjtimko13

Something Blue:  Exposing my Blue-Collar Roots on a Blog

I have wanted to share my thoughts about bringing blue-collar roots to the legal profession for over 10 years, but conversations about class are difficult and uncomfortable.  Moreover, revealing some aspects of my personal life on a public forum is pretty scary.  Let me start by saying that I did not grow up in poverty.  I am also keenly aware of the privilege I have by virtue of being white.  I know there are many stories out there about extraordinary people who overcame tremendous obstacles to escape poverty and achieve success.  My story is much more ordinary.  Nevertheless, I still struggle to maintain…

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