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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Left Brain Right Brain

February 19, 2012 6 comments

Yesterday I did a play day. No papers to grade, no research to do—sunshine all day. I went for a hike with a friend and her two dogs, then we just did whatever we felt like all day.Of course, my left brain fired off a few “shoulds” but I told it to shut up. It mostly did. One of the benefits of hanging out with a friend is my left brain leaves me in peace.

Today I did some things I “needed” to do but they did not take all day. Naturally, that left my left brain—aka the Rational Mind—a lot of time to criticize. I “should” at least blog. Or jog. Or DO something. Anything, really.

Today I had an epiphany. Right brainers don’t live in the same strait jacket. If a sculptor isn’t sculpting on a given day there are not 2 gazillion “success” coaches telling him he (or  she) SHOULD be sculpting every day to achieve the “goal” of creating.

Writing is “creative”,  but there are so many people who think they “should” write every day. (I never did believe that, and I still don’t—but my writing has never been “normal”. I do very little editing. What I want to say comes out, either done or mostly done, most of the time. And if I don’t do it for a year it is still just fine.)

But law—law is all about the left brain. Geez—no wonder lawyers are bloody miserable. Left brain all the time.  The left brain is the prime source of the “lie that has to die.” So I shall be an artist.  For now, photography. Next? Dunno. It will be fun to see!

But  here’s the strange part: even in law school was not doing the whole thing “left brained.” For instance, one of the things you must learn in law school is legal research. (Never mind that most lawyers end up doing boring, repetitive mundane tasks that require NO research whatsoever.) I liked this. I have the mind of a sleuth—I love solving mysteries, solving puzzles–and doing legal research is puzzle solving. (EUREKA MOMENT- no wonder I like “House”!!)

Is there case law on this? What does the case law say? Does it help or hurt my client’s position? Had  that case law been periods or amplified? Many question MANY books. State law cases, federal cases —circuit courts, Supreme court—a veritable wonderland of clues and meandering labyrinths. Did I shepardize it enough?

Most law students agonize over knowing when they have done enough research. Lawyers do too, if they are working in a case.

I didn’t. I just knew that I knew when I had done enough. Of course, I never said this. I knew better. I am not sure how much  of this—of so much that I see now—is pure “intuition” (the right brain—see Jill Bolte Taylor video here) and how much is the “guidance” …about which more later.

Bu I do NOT regret learning law or doing law…but I think I will change hemispheres now.

Why?

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Why did I go to law school? I didn’t ask myself why—I knew I needed to grow up, to prove myself. But why THAT way? Dunno. It was only two years to a new life– but that is by no means the reason. I was led.

Now I have not exactly come to grips with this “being led” thing even now… but it seems inescapably true.  (Now.)nI was LED to law school, I was LED to SCALE.

Many times in my life I have known things I had no way to know—or was shown something was acting on my life that was synchronistic. Many times.  But as I started law school these things were not on my mind… although some startling instances of this theme happened in this time frame. (Like the way the mobile home sold just in the nick of time for me to depart for LA. And more, during SCALE.)

But mostly, then,  I was on fire to prove myself. I had known I was going to be able to do this since one evening when I was sitting in Jewish services somewhere on Guam behind a large civilian gal who was an attorney. I remember that that night I could actually see myself in law school—and I knew I was going to get that far at least. (I didn’t have a lot to go on by way of believing in myself… but that is a whole ‘nother story. I think.)

In any case, as I mentioned earlier, although I had investigated other law schools—SUNY I think—I ended up applying ONLY to SCALE. I drove out for the interview with my then sig-oth, Rick Cirillo, who was interviewing for a job as an orthotist in SoCal. I got my California driver’s license and drove—or floated—home knowing I was in fact going to SCALE in Los Angeles.

SCALE was a brainchild of Southwestern University school of Law –they had identifies some MAJOR deficiencies in legal education: the brutal competition, the use of humiliation, reliance on “hornbooks”, the lack of any practical classes like negotiation… so this program had small classes, a “teaching law office” approach, reading complete cases, using the first names of professors and a “no (letter) grades” policy—plus MANY tests.  (A Good Thing.) And much much more.  And only a very few of our professors tried to humiliate us.

And the best Con Law teacher ever born. Norm Karlin– may he rest in peace. I think tomorrow I may just write about Uncle Normie and why I know Con Law so well, 30 years later.

 

So, as I was saying…

February 9, 2012 4 comments

I finally arrived in Sierra Madre on that rare day when you could see the mountains from the freeway–there was no visible smog. I got off at Baldwin Avenue and drive up into those foothills and felt a deep sense of… I think it was “home.” As usual (looking back) I had fallen into a GREAT place to live during those intense years of studying law. My roommate had graduated from SCALE and was the main reason I had realized that yes, I, too could go to law school, despite the unusual  undergrad degree I had from Goddard.

My half  of the rent was $50.00 a month–I had no idea until quite recently that this was NOT the going rate for the LA basin– I had just come from 6 years in the militarily in Mississippi and Guam. And the place was eccentric and charming–we had a GORGEOUS antique O’Keefe and Merrit stove and a tree growing up through our deck. 379 Sycamore. A great street in a magical little town. OK ,so Wayne was a ghastly roommate–left pots of food on the stove until they damn near got maggots, and had little quirks like that. He was, simply put–a PIG!  But I was so happy in my “genteel poverty” it didn’t faze me.

Someone asked yesterday “why law school? Why that law school?” Well, I will tell you. It felt right.  I had known for a long time I needed to do something with my life. Joining the military was my first step into adulthood. I did well on the language aptitude test and on the Officer’s Candidate School test, as well as on the LSAT. (Which I took with a nasty medical issue which was dealt with at MacDill AFB AFTER I finished the test!) But I decide on law school. Looking back I can think of various reasons this may have been important for me, but they were not reasons I had in mind when I made the call. It felt right. My interview had gone well and I had asked if they would admit me to SCALE. (Someone had told me if you asked they would tell you. I asked–they said “if everything you have told us is true, yes”. It was true– I am obsessed with truth.) I was in!

So I went. Why that law school? It felt right. Now I am getting pretty darn clear I had guidance of some sort, every step of the way. I was in many ways very confused, at least emotionally, but there was a part of me that KNEW… and I listened.

Thanks God for that. SCALE was far and away the most exciting experience I have ever had. I had no way to know I was avoiding the deliberate trauma and dehumanization inflicted on law students in “traditional” programs.

I was lucky. So lucky. NOW I know… I always have been.

The Oddysey Begins…

February 7, 2012 2 comments

Or am I finally HOME? In a sense, my odyssey began when I left Biloxi Mississippi (Keesler Air Force Base) with a Uhaul and my car and drove 1,953 to Sierra Madre, California. Most of that was on the I-10 freeway. I’d never been through the desert and I was afraid to drive it during the day so I slept during the day and drove at night when I got to Arizona. No cell phone no GPS–this was 1981. Nope–nothing  but a laser focus and a steel determination. I was going to law school–30 +years of not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up were over and I was off to .. grow up! Perhaps needless to say not all my comrades in arms at Keesler wished me well (going from an E4 to a lawyer…)  but I left with an early out (to be able to start the program at school) and a Good Conduct Medal. And a wonderful send off (a party for me on his yacht!) from my terrific Boss, CMSgt Hobart J. Bishop.  “Bishop” to most of us.

I had been accepted into the SCALE program at Southwestern University from of Law, based on my LSAT scores, a few grades from some work on my Masters (in Guam!) and my application essay and interview. My undergrad college did not give grades– it was an experimental sort of college in Vermont. SCALE was also alternative study program– Southwestern’s Conceptual Approach to Legal Education. Two years and a small class (I think we started at maybe 30 students, not off of whom finished) with many creative deviations from the “usual” law school. It was the only school I applied to.  It was a great choice–about which more later.

I also had a mobile home back in Biloxi. It sold just days before I left, leaving me in GREAT shape to start my new life,  One of many such happy accidents which I have had throughout my life.

To be continued…

New Life–in Paradise!

February 6, 2012 2 comments

OK campers!I have escaped the clutches of too many cars, too many malls and too much pollution and everyone in a rush. I am in the slower, kinder the CLEANER magical town of Sedona. I am moving into my dreams. I am happier than I have been in — gosh, I don’t remember how long! yes, the tough stuff DOES pay off!

STAY TUNED!!

No, you probably are not an excellent writer…

Sad, but true. I have taught many students– many of them military. Most corpsmen or nurses or radiologists.  They cannot write.  They are deeply concerned about their patients: however, many are non native speakers. They may be potentially terrific employees in the civilian sector–but they have lots of competition and they need to pass the first barrier- GETTING THEIR RESUME READ! (TIP– all the advice you got for free is probably worth what you paid for it.)

Is it “negative” to say many job seekers cannot write well? Probably– but it is no more negative than a correct diagnosis of a patient–if it is accurate. So if you would prefer to skip the job-seeking  step of  knowing your strengths and weaknesses… read no further!

All experts agree, most incoming college students were not skilled writers, even a decade ago. Those seeking degrees in their profession, such as health care, or in, say, IT, do not see a need to write well. (And no one loves slogging through a course that makes them feel stupid, such as composition or–heaven forbid–“critical thinking.”) As a result, those graduating with degrees, even from traditional schools, tend to be poor writers.  (see http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/education/2009/august/What-s-Happening-to-Writing-Skills.html)

Add in the Internet age and the for profit schools.. and you can say with great certainty the “excellent communication skills” requirement in almost every job posting is wishful thinking. (More on what else  employers think that is not realistic in a future blog post.)

Again, the ability to put yourself in  the shoes of the person looking to hire you is of high importance. VERY high. But most people lack this skill. In fact, the skills that produce excellence are not taught in school. And I spent 6 years active and one full year Active Reserve– I know “excellence” is not a part of  military culture. “Close enough for government work”–this was our motto. In fact, definition #4 for “soldier” in Merriam Webster Dictionary is “one who shirks work”.

So, only a few of these military members who are fortunate enough not to be disabled due to combat conditions will be ready to access the exact job that they are a fit for–the the MUTUAL benefit of both employer and employee–and the “consumers” for health care–without some help.