most important test of your life

A year ago, I was sitting in a room with other prospective attorneys, hand writing the answers to the essay questions for the bar exam. I thought that I was in the midst of the most important test of my life, but as it turned out, I was wrong.

A good friend of mine pointed out to the bar-takers of today that the most important test of your life might be a pregnancy test, or cancer screening. The bar exam certainly was the most important test of my career, but it is not anywhere near the most important test of my life.

The most important test of my life, right now anyway, is probably that little stick that told me that this baby was already growing. He already existed before there was really much of a way for me to tell. It’s definitely all about the perspective, because at the time I took the bar exam I would have laughed at anyone who told me that it wasn’t the most important test of my life. I studied all summer for it, took classes through law school to prepare me for it, and couldn’t work in my chosen career unless I passed it.

While failing the bar could certainly have been life-changing, nothing really is going to compare to what life is going to bring all because of the two little lines that appeared on that stick.  Like I said, it’s all about perspective!

un, एक, një, uno, yksi, ein, ένας, en, um, 一个, jeden, isa, אחד

The number one has been on my mind a lot lately, because I learned a very valuable lesson this week.  It is a lesson that you may think is common sense.  I would agree but I also will say that the situation in which I learned this lesson was definitely a situation rife with a lack of common sense.

One little word can make the world of difference.  The inclusion or exclusion of one little word can have enormous, life-changing consequences in any type of case.  But it seems to me that this is especially true in family law cases.  Words like primary, or shall, or exclusive, or may, or joint, or sole.

It can mean people not doing things they clearly agreed to do, or doing things they clearly agreed not to do.  It can mean the difference between making ends meet or getting your home foreclosed on or your car repossessed.  It can mean a drastic change in legal custody or physical care of children that was not intended.  It can mean another attorney seizing on that inclusion or omission and running with it no matter the clear spirit of an agreement or decree, and no matter how ethical that behavior may or may not be.

I’ve always known that the legal world is one of technicalities, and accuracy is paramount when you are constantly in that kind of domain.  I would say that I look for those same inclusions or omissions to protect my client’s interests just like any other lawyer would.  But I know the difference between protecting my client’s interests and taking advantage of a situation when it is clear to everyone involved that my argument is absurd to begin with.  I would never give the kind of advice that was given in the case I’ve dealt with this week, because I know that it is wrong.

I know where to draw the line.  I guess that is one difference between this other attorney and me.

And I like that one difference.

otherwise engaged

Funny, I wanted nothing more than to get bar results and get on with life. That’s exactly what happened.

After Seattle, it was an agonizing couple of weeks until bar results came out. Actually, I’m not sure agonizing even begins to describe the feeling, particularly in the last few days. The trouble with knowing the date and approximate time that the results will be released is that it makes you absolutely neurotic. I never thought I would be one to lose two nights of sleep beforehand because my mind wouldn’t shut off. I also never thought I would be one to hit refresh probably half a million times in the 36 or so hours leading up to the release.

On September 13th, I found out that I passed the bar exam. The feeling when I saw my name on the pass list is pretty much indescribable. (Oh! The immense relief! Happy tears! The weight of a thousand worlds suddenly lifted off my shoulders! More happy tears!) I worked between then and the swearing-in ceremony September 23rd, sort of in a state of limbo. My boss started calling me his associate, but because I didn’t have that handy dandy little attorney pin number, I still couldn’t truly do anything on my own. I was still putting his name at the bottom of documents, and getting his approval on everything, even the most basic of letters.

On September 23rd, I was sworn in by my favorite Iowa Supreme Court Justice with over 200 other new attorneys, many of whom are my friends. It was a great day to share with them, and Ryan and my Mom (and Ryan’s family who had a pretty strong showing, I might add). We celebrated that evening with some of my law school faves, and then it was right down to it.

On the morning of Monday the 26th, a mere three days after being sworn in, I was off on a 40 minute drive to a nearby town for a hearing. All by myself. And then that afternoon, I had a new client appointment of my own for estate planning. All by myself. Since then, I’ve had another court hearing, drafted a will and powers of attorney, and had a new child custody client come in (among many other things). You guessed it, all by myself.

So what I’m saying is twofold really:

1. I’ve been so busy that I’ve barely had time to feel guilty for not blogging. Though there has been some guilt — I realized that unless people could see my Facebook account, they might not know what my fate was with respect to the bar exam. For that, my apologies.

2. Passing the bar and getting sworn in has somehow managed to make me revert to being a toddler or young child. I get so excited when I get to do something “all by myself,” in case you didn’t notice. My legal career is in its infancy stage, though . . . so I guess it’s pretty fitting.

Although I’ve been otherwise engaged, I hope to start making it back here a bit more often. I’ve certainly missed it!

just a little distraction

I meant to post about the bar exam, awhile ago. But as more time lapses between then and now, I feel less like dwelling on it. Or even thinking about it, really.

To briefly satisfy inquiring minds: it was brutal. I hand-wrote memos, a contract provision, and essays for six solid hours the first day, and answered 200 mind-numbing multiple choice questions the second day. And I have no idea how it went. So, you can see why reliving it wasn’t exactly a top priority.

In a quest to distract myself from the fact that I have to wait until September 13th to find out if I passed, I’ve been staying characteristically busy. There was a bachelorette weekend, starting work full time again, a wedding weekend, a concert and trip to the Iowa State Fair, and just life in general to keep me occupied. In other words, not much has changed since the days of law school in terms of my ridiculous schedule.

Thankfully, I’m now preparing for my first vacation alone with the hubby since our honeymoon ten years ago. I say that I’m thankful for this because I desperately need some time off, away from things, but with him. I need to relax and take a deep breath before truly delving into the rest of our lives. And I need to just be somewhere new, because that travel bug that I have just doesn’t seem to be going away.

And let’s be honest. I need something to further distract me from the never-ending wait for the bar results. Anything will do. In fact, does anyone know anything about temporary, medically induced comas? By the time the next few weeks go by, I just might need one to preserve my sanity.

the calm before the storm?

I am relaxing on the comfy couch in my hotel room, having just returned from the registration and orientation session for the bar exam. It was perhaps the most boring thing I’ve ever done. Wait, no — that was law school orientation. But the jokes were very cheesy, and the check-in process was inefficient. So overall, not so wonderful (not that I expected it to be fascinating and exciting!).

Overall, I’m preternaturally calm. I cracked jokes with friends, and chatted with people around me. Barring a moment this morning with the hubby, I’ve not really exhibited much in terms of stress outwardly. The stomachache that I’ve perpetually had over the past several days is gone. The feeling of panic and the fear that I don’t know enough are not constantly eating away at my brain. My heart rate has dropped back to normal.

I think I’m ready — or as ready as I’ll ever be.

This afternoon, I plan to read through some essays and review my outlines on a couple of topics that are giving me trouble. Tonight, I will have dinner with a friend who I haven’t seen since graduation, work out, maybe swim for a bit, have a glass of wine, watch some Gilmore Girls and hopefully get a good night of sleep.

It’s only a test. Either I will pass, or I won’t. There’s nothing more I can do for myself except get good rest and be fresh when it comes time to get started tomorrow. I’ve kind of come to a point of acceptance, I think. Then again, I could feel completely different in the morning.

Wish me luck — and I’m doing the same for all of my fellow bar-takers out there. We’ve got this!

seven little days

I’m not sure how we got here so quickly, and at the same time, I’m not sure how it took so long. In a week, I will be leaving home for Des Moines to attend orientation for the bar exam. And probably will be trying to not go crazy.

It seems as though the summer has flown by, in the sense that I only have a week left and don’t particularly feel anywhere near ready to sit down and take the bar exam. I’ve had a lot on my plate this summer, between visiting family and two weddings. But I don’t feel any less prepared. I managed to basically stay in line with the paced program all summer — even when I got behind I caught back up. I’ve put the time in, so hopefully all will be fine.

On the other hand, there were days that felt as though they would never end — and every last one of them had a lecture to watch. Sitting down on Monday was always so brutal, knowing that I had five whole days worth of lecture to get through that week. I’ve kind of enjoyed the time since the lectures ended because I’ve always viewed studying as a solitary activity. Groups can distract me, and make me focus on things I don’t need to review. Now it is just me and my books, flashcards, and practice questions.

I’ve been vascillating between confidence and absolute self-doubt, but so have most people I know. Bar prep has truly been a roller coaster ride, and with Barbri in particular, I kind of feel like they do that to you on purpose. It’s just enough to scare you into knowing that you have to work really hard or your chance of failing goes up exponentially.

This is truly crunch time — there are seven little days between me and the bar exam, and I have a lot of work to do. I’ve got this.

I think.

where did my summer go?

Watching new substantive videos for Barbri is over, so now I have under two and a half weeks left to buckle down and get this stuff committed to memory.

I told Ryan this morning that I want another summer. One where I don’t have to spend every day chained to my Barbri books, learning and forgetting and re-learning. The bad news is that I don’t get another summer before real life begins.

The good news is that real life is going to begin! Assuming everything goes according to plan, I will pass the bar and truly start my career. Finally! We will be looking for a bigger house, and thinking about starting a family. I will maybe find a little time to read again, or shoot photos. I will find a little more time for my friends, who have been quite understanding at all of the neglect around here these past few months.

I’m not looking forward to the bar exam, or the loooooooooong wait afterwards. But I am looking forward to everything after that!

Sixteen days.