2013 writers in residence
APYTJD Tells All
The idea behind APYTJD Tells All is simple. We've heard the tales old men tell of the lawyer world. Now, it's time for you to hear the tales of a young Southern woman in a tone you haven't heard before now. We've all grown up with the notions behind the legal professions. Honor. Elegance. Status. And let's be frank, money. However, on this side of law school and the bar, the legal environment is very different than those hoity-toity, high fallutin' notions of grandeur that filled our heads as we only dreamed of walking down the storied halls of tradition at our legal alma maters. On this side of law school and the bar, if you've found a job, you're a lucky one. If you haven't, you're average. You've probably found yourself saddled with several thousand dollars of debt, probably around $100K or so. You've taken an odd job or two as Sallie Mae sends out her love letters addressed solely to you. Your friends want you to handle their cases, only you don't want to do private practice work. And that's only the professional half of your life. Wacky friends and family fill your life with immense laughter and smiles and head shaking; all while they teach you lessons that grammar school taught us but we somehow forgot. Meanwhile, suitors blow up your phone with calls and text messages. My column will be about those stories, those lessons learned. I will introduce you to the characters in my life who I have the privilege of calling family, friends, and acquaintances. I'm excited about sharing this part of my life with you. As you read my posts, I hope we will grow and learn together.
Non-Profit Volunteering--Good for the Community, Good for You and Good for Your Career
Lee Burgess is very passionate that we as attorneys (and soon-to-be-attorneys) need to stay involved in our communities and give back. She believes that many of us overlook the fact that we can use community involvement to help reach our career goals. Lee has learned a lot from her non-profit work, and is excited to share her experiences (and the experiences of others) with the Ms. JD community to both energize and encourage law students and attorneys to get involved in the non-profit sector.
A Matter of Simple Justice
Full recognition of the accomplishments of women lawyers - including equal compensation - is A Matter of Simple Justice, a phrase uttered by President Eisenhower early in the fight for equality. A Matter of Simple Justice provides informative and inspiring accounts of heroic women attorneys who persisted in the ongoing claim for what is just and right."
One and Only
"One and Only" reflects on our experiences as women attorneys navigating through the legal profession's uncharted territory as either "The First," "The Only," "One of Few," or "The Only One." Maybe you are the first female lawyer in your family or the only woman in a position of visible leadership in your organization. Perhaps you are one of few women practicing law in a traditionally male-dominated environment or trying to fit into an unfamiliar legal community. Whether you are the only woman in the room or at the table, or struggling to embrace your legal vocation among a community skeptical of your professional ambition, know this: you are not alone.
Not Quite a Socialite
I'm a bit of a nerd. And given that you came (or are coming) to law school and are reading a legal blog, chances are that you are too. But that's no excuse to keep your head buried in the books! Relationship-building is one of the most important things you can do in law school for two reasons: first, it's easiest to let off law-school-induced steam when you have someone to laugh with, and someone to listen when you just need to complain; and second, people do things for people they like, which comes in handy pretty quickly. But if you're like me, sometimes it takes a little extra motivation to attend social events, sign up for another activity, or even start a conversation with someone new. And that's what I'm here for! You can consider me your social cattle-prod.
Military spouses face many unique challenges while engaging in the practice of law. Frequent moves can require sitting for the bar in multiple jurisdictions without being able to use reciprocity or time already spent practicing to reduce admission requirements, in addition to having to form new networks in each station. For those who are also parents, occasional and sometimes sudden periods of single parenthood can add to the logistical and emotional difficulties. This column will look at practicing law (or not) from the point of view of a military spouse and young attorney.
Trading in the Expense Account: Transitioning from Big Law to Public Interest
The financial allure of Big Law is hard to escape when your net worth is not only negative, but negative in a big way. But, sometimes the money just isn't enough to justify the amount of time you spend doing something you just don't want to do. For me, the decision to leave the firm was easy. The financial reality of making a quarter of my previous salary was not. Every month this column will discuss some of the practical aspects of making the move out of Big Law without confining yourself to the house.
A Life Outside Law School
As a current law student, I'm working full time to put myself through law school. Therefore, as a non-traditional student, taking mostly evening classes, and in a part-time program at the University of Denver Law School, I have a much different perspective on law school than others. I have a husband, a toddler, a mortgage-- and a crazy amount of distractions outside of law school, including writing a novel, gardening, baking, quilting, and riding horses! There is no one path through law school, and I hope that I can share experiences I've had (and overcome!) with law school tests snafus, group study pressure, being distracted by an unexpected pregnancy at the end of 1L, applying for OCI, etc. Despite the craziness of law school, students must have some kind of life outside the law school bubble, in the real world.
Law by Design
Near the intersection of well-read and well-heeled, the legal and design communities meet. Recent developments such as a renewed focus on intellectual property protections and the emergence of specialized fields such as fashion law suggest that “design law” is a dynamic field that will continue to develop. Law by Design will explore these developments by featuring interviews with some of the leaders behind them, including attorneys whose practice areas involve design industries and attorneys turned design entrepreneurs who are applying their legal skills to new ventures.
The New Amazons
“The New Amazons” is a look at female strength. The days of the Amazons are long gone, and so is the notion that a strong woman is one of tall stature and chiseled muscle. A new definition is emerging, one that I will examine through this column. Each month, I’ll introduce you to a New Amazon and together we’ll discover the traits that make these women, and all women, strong.
Leverage Your Judicial Clerkship for a Successful Career in the Private Sector
Currently clerking or considering a judicial clerkship in hopes of landing a stellar firm job? Wondering how the skills developed during your clerkship will apply in a law firm setting? Confused about how to network and plant the seeds for a job opportunity while respecting confidentiality boundaries? If any of these questions piqued your interest then follow my column on how to turn your time in chambers into a successful career as a practicing attorney. As a
new attorney who practiced briefly before starting a term clerkship in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, I provide a unique perspective on what it’s like to build a professional network and develop the skills necessary to land that dream job.
Attitudes, Actions, and Accessories: Notes from the Desk of the Professionalism-Obsessed
We are all impacted by professionalism on a daily basis, whether it is through the displeasure we feel after receipt of an impolite email from a colleague or the gratitude we show to a well-prepared co-counsel. Professionalism issues abound in our personal lives, as well – just think about how many times you have been thankful for the attentive salesperson who helped you find that new book you can’t wait to read, that hard-to-find piece of sports equipment, or that beautiful cardigan you saw in the latest issue of your favorite magazine (I may be speaking from personal experience here…).
Our decisions about how we - female attorneys - self-present both inside and outside of the office impact our professional reputation and success, which affects our personal well-being, too. For better or worse, we are often more susceptible than men are to judgment about our choices – from how we wear our hair to our work/life balancing act to our communication styles. Through anecdotes, interviews, and musings this column will delve into the plethora of professionalism topics that confront female attorneys - questions big and small, seemingly trivial and more obviously significant. We’ll take a look at the diverse choices that we might make, and also how those choices might be interpreted and/or criticized by others.
The goal of this column is not to present a “right” way or a “wrong” way to be professional. It will not be a professionalism handbook. Rather, it will be a resource containing advice and food-for-thought to help you make informed decisions about how you wish to self-present. For if there is any cliché that is true, it is that your reputation is everything.
9x5 vs 10x2
Law school is a whole new world. It is a marathon and a mind game. It is so easy to get swept down the river of stress and no sleep. But taking a step back can be invaluable and relaxation can make all the difference. My column, 9 to 5 v. 10 to 2, is all about putting law school in perspective. As an avid fly fisherwoman, I find that many of the skills and traits of fly-fishing relate well to what law school could be. I chose the column name 9 to 5 v. 10 to 2 as a reminder to myself. 9 to 5 represents a class day, a time filled with stress, worry, and a lot of panic. 10 to 2 represents time to unwind; it is the way a fly rod should move when casting. These two times are in constant tension with each other in every law students life but when I allow the 9 to 5 to direct my life line, I end up with a tangled mess and no fish on the line.
Tech U: Making Sense of the Digital Space
Technology is ever changing. As it evolves the way professionals communicate and effectively produce work changes with it. My column centers on bridging the gap between technology and the legal profession to help law students and attorneys take advantage of all that social media, computer software, and mobile applications have to offer.
Leading Ladies in Law
We’ve watched Elle Woods storm law school as a Harvard 1L in Legally Blonde, Casey Novak and Alexandra Cabot prosecute New York City criminals as assistant district attorneys on Law & Order: SVU, and Jessica Pearson lead the firm as a managing partner on Suits. Television and film provide several opportunities to see women working in the legal field.
However, there needs to be a discussion on the representation of women lawyers, judges, law students, and advocates in the media and how to engage (or disengage) with some of these portrayals. This isn’t a serious diatribe about the danger of media portrayals—there are some really positive messages regarding women in the law on TV and in movies—but some real-world stereotypes women face on the bench, in the courtroom, or at the negotiating table, are derived from these mediums and deserve our attention. Interspersing personal musings, news articles, and academic assessments are film and TV clips that highlight different media representations of women in the law so we can recognize the impact of these depictions on our professional and personal lives.