Tag Archives: lawyer

The Water Law Professor

“Great weather we’re having!” says the professor, as a few remaining students trickle in. “Great that Spring finally arrived.”

“But it is Fall,” says a literal minded girl in the back. 

His smile falters somewhat.

I think, “This professor is funny. I am going to like this class.”

Then he starts teaching. He explains he is half Chippewa and was raised on the reservation listening to the stories of the elders. 

We nod politely. There are only 8 of us in the class so it is noticeable if you aren’t paying attention. 

He continues. However, instead of heading to water as one would expect with a class titled Water Law, he mentions Locke, then Marx. He talks about property rights and ownership. If his thread is a little unclear, we are at least in familiar territory. 

Then he starts talking about the Chippewa’s worldview, about the giant turtle who crawled out from the sea and formed North America. Warming to the subject, he talks about moon cycles (“our men have them too!”) and the Chippewa calendar based off a turtle’s back (not “the rule of some pope!”) 

We are all now totally lost but the professor is just getting started. He shows us pictures of his Grandfather – happily sidetracking to talk about the crazy stories the man told – and his brothers. He talks about the infinity symbol and how all of nature must work together. He discourses on Native American farming and spends a good five minutes ranting about Europeans who claimed the tribes were nomadic. He talks about the importance of the numbers 3 and 4; he shows us a picture of corn, squash, and beans and tells how the 3 of them fit together. He then explains the 4th element is mankind. 

Puzzled about what this has to do with water law? Oh, me too! Our professor lost his syllabus and openly told us he was teaching from a slideshow used for a different class. (Presumably one about the Chippewa worldview.) His main points however, were that conflict is an anathema and that all things must be brought into balance, otherwise “the Creator will bring it into balance for us, and we may not like the result.” 

I have a feeling I may not like the result of this class. 


Shifting Strengths

Law school does things to you; it changes the way you think and the way you interact with people. You start viewing language differently. You exist in a pressure cooker all semester and when finally released from it…the world seems different. I have struggled to explain the difference to people. I feel…firmer. Or grounded. More analytical. Possibly more capable, or at least developed. 

Yesterday I took the Clifton Strength Finders test and I might have more words now. 

The strengths test measures your inherent “talents.” It isn’t supposed to change much, at least not once you hit adulthood. Yet over the past year, my strengths shifted dramatically

I took the test the first time almost exactly a year ago. At the time, I was leaving my adult job to move to the mountains of Idaho to work as a camp counselor and hopefully attend law school in the fall. Uncertainty was my watch word. It shows in my strengths:

Adaptability
Activator
Positivity
Intellection
Includer

Roughly translated, that tells you I am a flexible, happy, smart, inclusive person. Which I like to think is true. 

I took the test again yesterday. This time my top five strengths were: 

Strategic
Communication
Positivity
Learner
Input

First off, I don’t think anyone has ever called me strategic before, much less ranked that my top strength. 

Second, while input sounds cool, it really just means I collect things like words, books, and ideas. 

Third, initially, these results really shocked me. They seemed so…different. But then I started reading about them. And, y’all, these are me. Future oriented, chatty, enthusiastic, thirsty for new ideas and intent on remembering them. Throughout, the test emphasizes my love of books and reading.

I really do love books. (Though the test also says I think speed reading is a waste of time because I want to ponder each new idea, which isn’t true by a long shot. But I do process things fast.) 

These results are not as far off from last year as I initially thought. Adaptability and Strategic strengths share a common theme of flexibility – just with the Strategic strength I have learned to pick an option and follow through on it. With Activator I got people excited about projects, now I use Communication to carry through on the whole project, not just the beginning. 

My main purpose in sharing all this stems from a broader theme I’ve learned over this past year. Going into law school, I felt a bit like a fraud. Detail-oriented people are supposed to go to law school. Not big-picture, idea people like me. You go to law school to put things in boxes, not to turn the box upside down and beat on it like a drum. 

Or so I thought. Over the last year, I have learned my talents aren’t that uncommon for the law, and are in fact quite valuable. Where I am weak, I have learned to adapt. And where I am strong, like in communication, I flourish. 

I am waiting for one last grade, but in all but one class so far this semester I’ve gotten an A or A-. You might find that par for course knowing me, but in law school that is hard. But I am learning and I am loving what I learn. It is a bit of a relief to realize that I am not a fraud and 6-year-old me wasn’t crazy when she announced she wanted to be a lawyer.

Moreover, I am good at this. Just saying that makes me feel a little bit crazy, but also happy. I see God’s hand at work around me and I cannot wait to see what comes next.


Three Years

Three years ago today, I graduated from Bryan College with my bachelor’s degree. I then chose to take a gap year (er, two) before attending law school. In an alternative universe, I would have gone straight to law school. Instead of ending of my 1L year, this week would culminate in my graduation from legal education. That was the plan. 

I am so glad it did not happen that way. 

It strikes me as funny when I talk about the past two years. I murmur offhandedly, “Oh, I worked for a few years before coming to law school.” As if two of the most formative years of my life were just NBD…no big deal. 

I suppose in the big picture they might prove just that: a mere blip in time between college and my “real” career as a lawyer. 

But even if that is the case, I wouldn’t trade those years with AFP for anything. My work there developed so much of who I am and how I see myself. I can’t imagine who I would be if I went straight from my undergraduate to the pressure cooker that is law school. That vision holds no appeal for me.

From an academic standpoint, straight-from-undergraduate-me might have embraced law school better. Independence would mean little to her, so a life of student loans and borrowed rides to church would feel natural. I would still be a perfectionist with an angsty desire to go go go so I imagine I would have joined just as many clubs (if not more) and still jumped into an internship as soon as possible. From a practical standpoint, I doubt my legal career so far would look very different. 

Yet that isn’t quite true. I landed both my legal internships to date because of my connection with AFP. I’ve prioritized certain activities and de-emphasized others because I know the sort of people I want to be around. I’ve approached projects and people and ideas with the confidence of someone who has achieved something difficult, and failed multiple times while doing it. 

I am so much more me because I waited two years. Also, I owe a heck of a lot less loans because I paid off those undergraduate ones. 

It gives me hope for the next three years. I never saw myself here three years ago, and yet here I am. Who knows what will come next? The only thing I know for certain is that  whatever it is, I’ve been equipped and mentored and well prepared for it. And if I fail? I’ve got an amazing community that will cheer me on anyway.

(Plus, I can always peace back to the mountains of Idaho and live the rest of my life in chacos, right?) 


Witness For the Prosecution (1957)

Image result for witness for the prosecution

A man is accused of committing murder, and only his wife can save him. However, she has her own agenda and has decided to become a witness…for the prosecution. 

Witness for the Prosecution is an Alfred Hitchcock movie based off an Agatha Christie play. I love those two and had high expectations for this film. However, at least initially, instead of the twists and turns I expected, the movie primarily revolved around an old, fat lawyer yelling at his nurse. 

It eventually picked up as the movie went on but often veered off track with random side stories. There is a great story here, but it is too padded with “extras” to be truly entertaining. 

However, the ending was brilliant and unexpected and everything I hoped for in Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie. I found the fat lawyer endearing, though most of the other characters were annoying. This is one I would go back to and re-watch, but I don’t necessarily recommend if you don’t already love black and white movies with veering plots.