Saturday, May 8, 2010

Reinvention of Law

I do realize that I never posted about "law day."  The truth of the matter is that after 10 years of dreaming about being a lawyer, 3 years of law school, and almost 15 years of practice, I had never even HEARD of law day until I read about it on another post.  If it was a huge deal, wouldn't someone have mentioned it somewhere along the way?  I mean, at least Hallmark could have come up with a new greeting card.  Happy Law Day to my favorite lawyer.  Right, as if anyone has a "favorite" lawyer...well, except maybe my adoring husband and children.  The law is good.  It's important to have some law to maintain order.  God gave the first law - don't eat the forbidden fruit followed centuries later by the 10 commandments.  Those are some pretty basic laws.  Now we have laws about everything - when and where you can talk on your phone, how fast to drive, what you can and cannot say about certain topics, etc. Ignorance of the law is no defense, so if you did not know that in Sycamore, Illinois it is illegal to eat green m&m's within 10 feet of the courthouse that is just too bad for you.  Do I think there are too many laws?  Yes, but that's another story for another day.

Anyway, I don't quite know why, but when I was about 13 or so I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer.  I didn't know any lawyers.  I had no lawyers in my family.  None of my friends parents were lawyers.  I hadn't seen any "law" shows on tv.  (Which, by the way, is the WORST reason to go to law school.  Being a lawyer is absolutely nothing like what is portrayed on tv.)  I waivered occasionally,  but always returned to the dream of the law.  Then I went to law school.  I loved the reading and writing...hated the brutal socratic method...loved essay exams...despised multiple choice.  Hated property class since our "teacher" couldn't teach her way out of a hole.  What "they" don't tell you before starting law school is that once you get past the first year, you are pretty much stuck. You are in debt enough that only a career as a lawyer will be able to pay back the monstrous loans that are fastly accruing.  Well, theoretically anyway.  Another delusion of "non-lawyers":  all lawyers are rich.  SO untrue.  The only lawyers that are "rich" are the ones who are stuck in the law library of some big law firm doing menial research any first year student could do...and doing it 100+ hours per week.  I have never been one of those "rich" lawyers.  My friend Colleen's mom used to say, "Colleen, you are the poorest lawyer I know."  That's more of the reality for most lawyers.

My delusion with the law is that somehow I could mesh lawyering with mothering.  How did I know that lawyers don't like women with children trying to be lawyers.  Oh it's all well and good if you can go to work and pretend you don't have any kids for 10 hours  a day(this, of course, does not apply to male attorneys who can populate the earth without a thought or concern for their job).  But for me, that's pretty much an impossibility as I discovered after I tried to return to work after baby #1.   I had a somewhat decent gig for a while after that, but that is now just not happening.  I can't commute 3 of the 5 hours I have a babysitter just to get some work that I'm getting sort-of paid for.  Nor can I jump back into a firm because now I'm not a "partner" as anyone out of school for 15 years "should" be.  I don't have $1million of transportable business either, so   scratch that.  I also did that daily grind for a really long time, and it just does not interest me.  I LIKE working in my home office in my comfy clothes listening to my girls playing or reading in another room.  I LIKE getting up at 5 or staying up until midnight to work so that I can spend time with them during the day.  I'm pretty good at it, and I get a lot done.  I'm also pretty good at being a lawyer even though it's not my most favorite thing at the moment.

So, now I find myself in the position of reinventing myself and my career.  I have to work - if I didn't I'd be the happiest woman in West Dundee, Illinois.  I've incorporated myself (Stikovich Legal Counsel, LLC) to allow myself to do a variety of different things - counsel corporations, represent corporations, participate in arbitrations are just a few things I'll be doing.  But, I've got to think of some other "stuff" to pay the bills.  My undergrad degree is in writing (which I love - especially of the technical variety).  So it would be great to freelance somehow....

And going back to "law day" just one final note - not all lawyer are bad, crooks, liars, cheats, etc.  In fact, most lawyers are just the opposite.  Just like there's "bad seed" in banks, hospitals, corporations, there are bad lawyers.  And just because you lose a case does not mean the lawyer is crooked or bribing the judge.  If
you are accused of a crime - the prosecution probably has some evidence because if not the judge would throw it out.  If the judge rules against you, it's not because the prosecution paid him/her off (prosecutors are the poorest of the poor lawyers, so they would not have the money....) And one more thought - if you ever do find yourself embroiled in a lawsuit, it will NOT be resolved in 40 minutes like you see in tv.  It will take years.  Yes, years.  Usually at least 3 - sometimes more.  Just don't be surprised.

Maybe I'll start a "Love your Lawyer on Law Day" line for Hallmark.....

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