Posts Tagged ‘chutzpah’

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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Delayed Gratification

February 26, 2012 2 comments

I was struck today by some of the ever stranger political murmurings (I am temped to say yammerings) which are everywhere of late. A pundit in  the Wall Street Journal opined that fiscal austerity is like the 1970s study begun (and ongoing) about how, when, why and to what end children can resist temptation. You might wonder what a study of 4 year-olds has to do with a global economic crisis, but in any case it set me to wondering about the premise of the study—some kids are better at this than others, and it serves them well.

Here is a link to a thorough article about the scientist, Mischel, and his work:

He says, at one point “…When Odysseus had himself tied to the ship’s mast, he was using some of the skills of metacognition: knowing he wouldn’t be able to resist the Sirens’ song, he made it impossible to give in…”  (This begs the question HOW DID HE KNOW??? I guess previous myths told him. Children don’t seem to have the benefit of this—but some resist temptation anyway.)

But I was curious if this applied to me, as I feel quite certain I’d have resisted any tempting marshmallows, at a young age. In fact I don’t think marshmallows would have tempted me,  but that could be amnesia… who knows? I do know I had –have–a lot of self discipline in my life. Was this luck? Genes?  Or my environment? (There is no definitive answer from the study to date.)

I think my other did me one huge favor, although her motives were entirely selfish. She made my study music. She wanted me to go to Julliard (where she did NOT go)—but she had me start studying piano at age 5. Talk about a habit that taught delayed gratification.  I dutifully sat and practiced my hour a day. EVERY DAY.

Later, when I added oboe and my sister added cello, she (my sister, not my mother)  rebelled—surreptitiously—by not practicing, but pretending she did. (I did not bust her. I think her teacher did in the end, but this is very fuzzy.)  I kept on practicing. I am not sure why. In high school I went through a depression and recall (somewhat vaguely) that I  sat and looked at my books when I was supposed to be studying. I didn’t read them—but I sat there! No TV… just… sitting and staring. I wish I could remember why I was depressed. I don’t. I just know it was probably my junior year—but I had skipped 8th grade, so I’d have been –what? 13? 14?  (I assume this was the junior year, as this was Berkeley Prep—but I went to Brandon High for my senior year.) But I digress–except to illustrate that I still delayed TV. Yay me.

I really think my sister would probably have gobbled up that marshmallow, if memory serves at all. She used to covet my Easter candy… which I kept in a jar for AGES. (I may have done this just to torture her-but I did not have that “gotta have it now” thing going on.) She invariably got so worked up on her birthday–which was Christmas Eve–that she was given one Christmas present early, so she’d calm down and go to bed. (I was in no way in agony over the fact that I had to wait to open what was under the tree—and we had to wait to open the wrapped gifts until our parents got up!) No, I don’t think she have waited to eat the marshmallow.

The study suggests these traits (ability to delay eating candy—or being “gratified”) are inborn, possibly genetic– but also malleable. I think my ability to delay “gratification” has many facets—but today, reading about the 1970s study and the ongoing investigation, I realized (or remembered) a few things. Like, my sister got into trouble in school for stealing—I didn’t. I kept studying music—my sister didn’t. I went to graduate school—she didn’t. She spent a lot of time overweight—I didn’t. On the other hand, she managed to marry and have 4 kids and stay for 30 years… I didn’t.

In any case, I had  used that ability, however I gained it and strengthened it to get through two years of intense study and the Bar Exam. Then I ended up using my chutzpah to get my first job. (Stay tuned. This chunk of my story took me all day for some reason. Whew!)

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