Posts Tagged ‘Bar Exam’

Surprise—You’ve Been Promoted!

March 6, 2012 2 comments

As some of you will recall, I went to work for Grayson Maxwell & Sugarman before I knew whether or not I had passed the terrifying Bar Exam. I wish I could say I remember those first months well-but I don’t. I remember I had to get a “professional” wardrobe—after all, my last job was in the USAF and I had green fatigues on every day! So I did. That I recall.

I seem to remember doing some really boring things like updating practice guides. The law changes every time a new case comes down—and sometimes when a legislature changes things. So the handy-dandy guides which tell lawyers what the law is and how the heck to do various things (trust me, we can’t read the statutes either—they are gibberish) change about twice a year.  These are in large ring binders and only some pages have to be replaced and if you mess up and replace the wrong page the books are FUBAR forever. BORING. This is my WORST thing on the planet Earth… Mindless tedium with stress. Thank God now I never need to do this any more.
But at least I got familiar with the darned things—they are very very useful. In any case, I suppose the partners must have given me SOME real work to do…for reasons which will soon become clear. Because what I do remember is the day I got my Bar results. Now this was back when there were two ways to find out—wait for the mail or go down to downtown LA and look at the posted results at the State Bar offices.

Those of us with jobs (and a low desire to suffer crowds of stressed out humans) waited for the mail. So one fine day in late November I was at work when I got a call from Jeff. Remember him? He was my boyfriend at the time and my class mate and fellow results awaiter. (He had sworn, when we were taking the test in 2 different locations, that he blew one of the essays completely…) Seems he had gotten the mail….. The results were in the mail… And HE HAD PASSED!

So I knew for sure MY mail had MY results—we lived not that far apart. And I knew if he had passed I didn’t I would die. So my bosses took pity on me, and let me go home right after that call.

My job was in Glendale (Glassell Park, really) and home was Sierra Madre. It was probably a half hour drive at non rush hour—which (to the best of my recollection) this was. So at, maybe,  3:30 I got home and parked at the top of the long sloping driveway. The mail box was at the bottom. We had been told a fairy tale that if you got a thick envelope it meant you had failed (I guess because they return your essays.) In any case, I went down the hill and opened the mailbox and there was a thick seeming envelope from the State Bar. ALL I REALLY remember is the looking at the contents of the envelope–on the ground–as I tried to see what,exactly, was in there. Then I remember seeing the words “The Committee of Bar Examiners is pleased…”

I read no farther. I think I called Jeff and then work. I felt oddly numb. Relieved the ordeal was over—but not elated as I had expected.

What else I don’t remember is if the partners waited… or if they fired the other associate immediately. Seems they had planned to ditch her if I passed. Bingo—I had a full caseload. I’d been promoted!!! I was an attorney. A real attorney. Clueless me. Oddly depressed me. Clients lives were in my inexperienced hands. Oy vey. (I wonder if the ditched associate still hates me?)

Stay tuned…

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Legal Rebel—Should I Yell?

Ah, law school. Today I read and listed to several blogs and podcast about law and law school. It was all negative, and probably all true—for the traditional law school–which bullet I fortunately dodged. (As I have mentioned before.) I think I have been a “legal rebel” from the git go—which seems to be more fate than logic. NOW the ABA (American Bar Association) is coming on board. see

So now to my next magic trick—finding my first job on the last day of the Bar Exam.

So there I was, Day Three of the ordeal. On Day One I had had another mini-melt down but  called a fellow test taker—not Jeff– and then got over myself and went out to jog–my all-purpose magic pill for everything. I knew yesterday was over so… I got ready for the next day. (Which was, I think, all essays– including one on Evidence and Torts which I swear I nailed.)

By Day Three –the so called “Multistate” portion which is multiple choice–all that work I had done memorizing VERBATIM the Black Letter Law was paying off. (Oddly, one still sticks in my mind: “Burglary is the breaking and entering into the dwelling of another with the intent to commit a felony therein.”  Believe it or not… every word of that is key.  EVERY WORD—except maybe “is”.)

So, feeling amazingly good going in to the homestretch I decided to ask a total stranger to have lunch nearby—and off we went. The only place nearby was fairly upscale,  but we explained to the waitress we were on a tight time line and we ordered.

Soon at the table next to us sat down… 4 women. I overheard the word “deposition” and realized they were all attorneys. I jumped up (God knows how I was dressed for the bloody Bar Exam) and introduced myself. Sandy Sugarman gave me her card, and I guess we finished our food and paid and went back to finish up the test—4 more hours and then DONE. (It now occurs to me to wonder what my lunch mate thought of this…) I remember that on the last day I finished before  time was called and left early. I never saw my fateful lunch mate again.

So after the final day Jeff and I went off on a camping trip. We went up the California Coast to Hearst Castle and just hung out, both of us well aware there would be no time for such things all too soon. I forget how many days we took but it was a great break from the intense work we had done for 2 plus years.
Eventually we got came back to Pasadena and got down to the business of looking for a job—even though results from the Bar Exam were not due until November. (This would have been July 1983.(  Somehow even in the absence of Facebook—or even email—we all kept in touch and supported each other in this search. To the best of my recollection Steve Tully was the first of my buds to find a position—he was Jeff’s best friend. I think it was with Farmer’s Insurance, but I could be wrong. It’s been a few years.

At some point I think I called Grayson, Maxwell and Sugarman. (You don’t exactly have a resume at this point… but hey—maybe I did, I don’t really remember.) Long story short, I interviewed and was hired—I think I September of that year. Sandy Sugarman, Myrna Grayson and Barbara Maxwell, an associate whose name I do not recall… and me. Sandy said at some point that they “liked my chutzpah.” (For any of you who don’t know—this is usually a compliment when used by Jews–and Sandy, Myrna and I were all three Jews. Barbara was the token goy. Actually, they were all long time friends and had matching Jags.)

Every singe job I have had since that day has come from someone I knew. Every single one.


More about this adventure soon…I had a surprise in store!

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Trauma and Personal Growth

February 23, 2012 1 comment

This will be a bit of a detour, but I am reading a very life changing book called “The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit”. It is a compilation of what many many transpersonal psychologists—Freud, Jung and many few have heard of—have explored about why it is so hard to heal trauma. The fact that it has stumped so many experts tells us something.

Trauma is tough stuff. What does this have to do with law school? It will have a LOT to do with my career, as my own trauma was a large part of what drove me to become a lawyers and them to work with divorce… and now to change the system as much as I possibly can. (The legal system TRAUMATIZES people. But almost NO ONE has a clue about trauma.)

So, knowing that we are clueless about the effects of trauma, it may seem clear that not only is it the traumatized people who end up duking it out in court… but  that the end result is carnage. And yet… it is still the norm. I will speak more about the sad fact that trauma recreates itself (and this utterly baffles the untraumatized who think it should be easy to just stop). For the abused women to “just leave”… and so on.

So, I got through law school with one third of my tuition unpaid, and graduated!  My first time wearing a cap and gown. My mother and sister came out… but I don’t remember much except what was in a photo. And recently my sister shared with me her memory of us having a row at the airport. (Of course I was at fault.)  This massive amnesia I have is one of the legacies of trauma. But I knew I had accomplished something very few people had. I had gradated from law school in two years—on my own steam with no help from my family at all. (My family were not, it seems, impressed. I think my mother was proud, but my sister still seems to think I am a complete idiot. To this day.)

The next step was… the California State Bar Exam. The California State Bar Exam is famously one of the two most difficult in the country. The SCALE passage rate was well above the passage rate for accredited schools, but we all knew failure was a statistical possibility. This is not a happy thought. We had just spent two years and many thousands of dollars molding our brains and forgoing almost all fun… and we might not pass the damn test.

After graduation and some degree of satisfaction and celebration comes… BAR REVIEW! My boyfriend (as we neared completion we actually did have a minimal social life) took BARBRI—I took Josephson. (I think my choice was also guided—Josephson, no longer doing Bar Review, made us laugh. BARBRI was dead serious.) So after a mini-meltdown (Jeff sensibly smacked me –verbally– and I got over that!) I buckled down and focused UTTERLY on the process of learning the rules of the game called “the Bar Exam.” (I just checked–the current price of this several month long marathon is $3,975.00!!!)

I carpooled to the live classes way down in LA—another good choice IMHO, opting for live over video—and took notes. AND I READ THEM!! I did every damn thing they said to do—and more. (Except that I was not able to read as slowly as they recommended. My reading speed and comprehension were just not on the charts.) I read the materials I took and reviewed notes, I made flash cards of the “black letter law”. (Stuff you ONLY need to know for the Bar Exam!!!)

And I wrote extra essays. I busted my butt. I studied. I jogged. I went to class. Rinse, repeat.  And then… it was the day before the Big Day. I was signed up to take the test in Glendale as I planned to type my test. (This was before computers.) As BADLY as I type, I KNEW my speed would far exceed what I could hand write and it would be far more easily readable. And it was. (And the test center was close to me and there were far fewer people. Both major blessings.) And the GUESS WHAT I DID?? I took the day off. I KNEW I had done the work and one more day was not going to change what I knew, I knew I might never have a day where I had such freedom ever again… so I played. Yep–played. All day.

Then I got up at whatever time and drove to Glendale with two typewriters– a manual and an electric as they have had power outages, and began the final ordeal.

I had one of my “Carroll’s world” events—one which led to my first law job– on day three of  The Test… where I will begin tomorrow.

The Lie that Needs to Die

February 17, 2012 Leave a comment

I tend to think deep thoughts when I am outdoors hiking or just going for a walk… alas I cannot jog right now as I have a knee problem. One usually suffered by adolescents! The irony. So this afternoon this is what I did.

I have thought a lot about all the masks lawyers wear and how they are stifling, and (having just escaped Southern California) I also think about all the masks we all wear. One of my boon companions, Ai-Ling Logan and I talked about this one day too I think there are fewer here in Sedona—people seem content to just be who they are.

But in any case these masks are lies and a lot if what we live in this frantic life of today’s society is lies—and the court system is lies (more on this later) … and long story short I had a thought suddenly.What if when we want to shift something in our lives—as I shifted my life when I decamped from the USAF to go to law school—what if there is a lie that has to die?.

The lie I had lived off of most of my life until I applied to and got accepted to law school is that I was a loser. I knew I had high IQ—I was tested in second grade and thy thought I would be harmed if they told me (!!) So they never did tll me– but they suggested I skip second grade. THIS they told me. (Boy was I bored in second grade. This-this shift– I wanted.) But “they” decided I was too maladjusted too manage it. (Duh—if my mental age was older than my calendar age I’d have done BETTER in a higher grade!!!!!) Hey-it was the 50s. We were stupid.

Probably I was just shy—it’s an HSP thing. (You can read about this here or here, but I got the message I was not OK. I got that message a lot.) I had asthma- they said it was “psychosomatic” which back them was not a good thing. It meant you were not really sick you just thought you were… you were… “Not OK.” I was bright and shy and being told this all made me not OK.  I lived that lie for a LONG time.

So I decided to shift my life and went to law school. The lie that had to die was “I am a loser.” But it didn’t die easy. I did graduate and I did pass the Bar Exam. After the LONG wait for the hand grading and the mail…. But I went to the Human Potential Movement group called Summit in there somewhere.  Actually it was March 17, 1984.

I had this GREAT hair dresser in Sierra Madre–Lisa Andreoni. I always talked to her about how much human behavior fascinated me so she had invited me, but beige in a fast track law school I had said no but she asked again after I had passed the Bar and I said “yes”—and she drove me over there and I signed up.

I never regretted it. In fact I just looked her up and found her here . Bless her for that invitation! Summit was pretty big on getting past the lies that had to die although they didn’t call it that. I’d have had a MUCH tougher time navigating being a newbie lawyer without all the interesting ways they gave us to learn about humans—and ourselves. It was like Landmark with humor. So I finally killed off THAT lie… the lie that had to die. The lie that I was a loser.

Now… I am working on what the next one is! Something to do with using creativity in the healing and growth I want to–WILL– share, based on my legal adventures and my adventures in truth land…

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