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Please don't call on me

Image by Thomas J. Dooley available at

The following is an excerpt of Chapter 3 of Law School Mom

Hope Wood © Copyright 2014

This was one of the best t-shirts I have ever seen because all law students know what it means. If you have seen any law school movie (e.g. The Paper Chase) or talked with a law student, you are familiar with the Socratic Method. Schools still use it and it still works. One of the underlying purposes of this method is to make you think like a lawyer.

This means thinking critically and is achieved by a professor continually asking you questions based on your responses. You will hate this. If you are like me, you like to be good at things. If you aren't good at something, you will work at it until it gets easier. Even after my first year, I'm still not there. It takes practice, which includes trying and failing and trying and succeeding. You need to do both or you will not know what not to do.

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More questions than answers; the Iowa Bar Exam Diploma Privilege

Below is a copy of the comment I submitted during the public comment period for the proposed amendments to rules for licensing Iowa Lawyers, i.e. the proposed diploma privilege.

As one of the small percent of attorneys who failed my first attempt at the bar exam, I wanted to provide some feedback on the proposed change to adopt a diploma privilege for graduates of Drake and The University of Iowa law schools.

Above all, I am glad that I passed the bar, have a license to practice, and don't have to be directly impacted by this change.

I may be indirectly affected, but only time will tell.  I have a solo law practice.  What will my clients perceive if new law students don’t have to pass the bar exam?  Will clients believe that lawyers should charge less per hour if they haven't passed the highly coveted bar exam?  As someone who is self-employed with her own shingle, billable time and collecting fees are an incredible burden.  I believe clients pay attorneys a high hourly rate because of the rigorousness of our training. 

The bar exam may be arbitrary, but

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Learn from the losses

Today was my first trial for a family law case.  I have had other trial experience.  I had a criminal defense trial that was dismissed upon arrival to the courtroom and a small claims trial against a pro se litigant.  Although those required preparation, my case today was the true litigation experience.

The opposing party was represented, we had completed full blown discovery of interrogatories, request for production, request for admission and both parties had been deposed.  Subpoenas were issued, ours included a duces tecum.  I had a motion in limine prepared, exhibits marked and my examination questions written.

Before we even started trial, the judge had to consider the opposing side's motion to continue the trial.  I was prepared with the applicable civil procedure rule, a 2013 Iowa Supreme Court case that was spot on the issue, and a succinctly drafted argument for why the judge should dismiss the motion.   

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People are too busy

I find myself in a constant struggle with my priorities.  Lately, I can't even tell what is important - my clients, myself, my husband, my son, my friends, my family, my law practice, my finances, my sanity, my independence, my pride, my boundaries.  Oh My!    

I probably can't tell what is most important to me because all of these are fighting to be number one. The priorities fight for number one in many different ways.  

My client asks for a quick turnaround time.
A prospective client wants answers.  
My body is saying take a vacation.
My bank balance is saying you have to work right now.
My son wants me to do a puzzle, right now.
My brain is saying be successful or your not going to survive. 


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Select challenging work


"Pink Language Work"

Graham is in a school that uses the Montessori learning method.  Each student is able to select what they do during their work period (usually 75 minutes) if they have had a lesson on the skill.  What he choses is to do is called "work".  Because his class is 3 and 4-year olds and Kindergartners, there is a progression in the type of work available.  

Graham is like me (and his Dad) in that he likes mastery.  The Montessori teaching style encourages this, however, it permits the child to achieve mastery at his or her own pace.  One of disadvantages to striving for mastery is the challenge that comes at some stage in the process.  The challenge that I instintively would rather sidestep or do enough to get by.  Taking the road of least resistance is less stressful but has less rewards.

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