Interview by fire?

Oh my god was that awful!
No one was mean, no one was unprofessional, but they didn’t ask me anything substantive, and they spent the whole interview making me defend my experience.

“The sky is blue” they would say.

“I like blue” Said I.

“”No, the sky is green.” they would say.

“Well, I suppose I could see some green in the sky, under certain circumstances.” Said I.

“Green is bad.” Said they.

Gah!!

They asked me how I thought my past experience would help in the position, and then intensely dissected my answers. If I said I thought my attention to detail and ability to create a story to surround the facts and elements was a benefit they would respond by telling me I wouldn’t have time to pay attention to any detail or weave any stories. If they said many people were exhausted by the amount of time spent with people, and I said I was a people person and really enjoyed the energy, they would say I would not have any time to spend with people and would instead be an island unto myself.

Worst of all, they kept telling me that most of the people who had a background like mine couldn’t cut it. They told me one person quit after a single day. Then they asked me how I felt about that! They said they didn’t want to waste their time on training up someone who was just going to leave because they couldn’t hack it.

I was almost at the point of telling them that short of whipping out a crystal ball and predicting where I was 6 years down the road I couldn’t tell them more than I will do my best, and I think I would be very good at it.

I cut out the crystal ball part.

Well, at least I have finally had my first serious legal interview, and will know in the future what to expect. Of course, I will likely never interview again, and will instead devote my life to making googly eyed hats with dripping madibles and selling them on ebay.

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Trial by interview…

Tomorrow at 9 a.m.

That’s when I get to interview with the remaining staff at the D.A.’s office. Tomorrow I will learn if the week long refresh of criminal law and procedure was enough to pass muster, or if I will resort to blindly staring at the interviewers while crickets chirp in the recesses of my mind.

I am really, really nervous.

Where’s the damn manual??

Why isn’t there a manual for life? Why do I have to make decisions and choices? No one told me when I was younger that growing up meant having to make things up as I went along.

Last week I was thrilled at the idea of working full time outside the house at the D.A.’s office. This week, after watching Otter respond to my being gone for classes and dental appointments, I have a hollow space under my heart at the thought of leaving him, and Monkey, to 40+ hour a week non-mommy care.

Now, if I work from home I will feel guilty if I don’t earn enough money, and if I work outside the home I will feel guilty about being gone so much. Are there any guilt free choices at all?

What do I do? Do I believe in myself wholly and throw caution to the wind, along with an advertising budget, equipment costs, and god knows what else to establish my own practice? Thereby giving up the chance at mentor-ship, a steady paycheck, and guided experience so I can spend more time with my little man, easing his transition to big kid, and be here for after school, sick days, and dinner time for both kids? Is that the right thing to do?
Or, do I focus on my career now, having given him nearly two years with a nigh constant mommy, and embrace my steady, if likely paltry, paycheck, and some solid training to go along with it?

I will likely earn a lot more sooner if I stay in my own practice, and succeed at it, than I will ever earn at the D.A.’s office. However, my chances of earning a ton in the future increase significantly with a few years put in at the D.A.’s office. Of course, any future position would likely be at a major law firm, thereby requiring 60-80 hour work weeks, so I would probably never see my children again there either. My other choice would be starting a law practice, which I can continue to do now, right?

I am talking in circles to myself, going over and over these issues, and finding myself less able to decide between them with each passing day. What choice should I make? Do I listen to the ache inside my heart responding to Otter’s increased neediness caused by my recent absences? Do I listen to the sigh in my head at the thought of passing up another career chance? Do I go to therapy to reconcile the damn voices in my head, just in case I am actually losing my mind?

Will one of you friggin brilliant friends of mine write a damn manual on how to do this shit already?

Guilty!!

After 7 years of motherhood I formally absolve my mother of any and all guilt accumulated from parenting me through the use of… well… guilt.

It would seem the only two things my amazingly teenagerish, somewhat assholian, seven year old responds to these days are spankings, and guilt.

If I spanked her every time she was rude or disrespectful to me or her dad, every time she failed to listen to our instructions or gave us the seven year old version of the finger I would be up to my elbows in sanctions from various child welfare agencies. Instead, I use the only other effective weapon in my arsenal, guilt. Big, fat, piles of Catholic Grandmother guilt. (Nothing else is working!!)

At six she had a highly developed sense of empathy and really could be managed by simply saying “how would you have felt if….”. Now if you ask that question she will flippantly answer “Sad. Am I grounded now?”. However, if you say ” Your actions really hurt and upset me tonight. I feel really bad.” She will pause a little before asking “Am I grounded now?”Then, if you answer “No, you just have to deal with knowing that you hurt my feelings” she will usually respond with apologies that at least appear sincere in nature and squeeze out a tear or two. Of course, sometimes it helps a little to ground her anyway.

I always swore I would not engage in guilting my kids into behaving well. I hated that by the time I turned 20 I would begin to feel guilty about a proscribed action before I had even finished commiting the damn thing. (Career criminal is not the life for me.) Even now I feel guilty about guilting my kid into understanding that standing with her back to me mimicing my stance and pretending to mouth off while I am talking is mean and disrespectful.

Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.

Maybe at 8 she will recover her former empathy and once again begin to feel for others, or maybe she feels for others already, but doesn’t care to apply such feelings to her father or me. After all, she is very caring towards her brother, and seems to really feel for the completely fake strangers she sees on the T.V.

Why do I have a feeling that I am going to visit Mr. Margarita quite a bit when she becomes a teenager?

Freezing in the first degree…

Holy Shit is it cold here in Colorado. The kind of cold that freezes the snot inside your nose when you inhale and turns slightly damp hair into an ice sculpture. Gak!!
This afternoon I had a court hearing for a dear client of mine and we met, shaking, pale, and freezing, downtown about 40 minutes before the hearing. (It’s good to have a client who is as OCD about timeliness and courts as you are.) It was too cold for any of my suits, as I would rather have walked into court in yoga pants than brave this weather in a skirt suit and pantyhose. Happily I am a girl, and the only truly apparent upside to that in my profession is being able to wear slacks without a suitcoat and tie. (The poor attorney at the courthouse with us, awaiting his hearing, was in a three piece suit with sweater vest and freezing as well.) Still, I should have worn pantyhose or tights under the slacks because it was really, really cold. I made the mistake of showering less than and hour before leaving the house, so my ponytail was one solid ice carving by the time I arrived at the courthouse.

However, freezing or not the hearing went well and we parted ways happily, scurrying back to increasingly ineffective car heaters and racing home to finish the day.

As I am still waiting for the next interview step in the DA chain I have begun working on some of the Trusts and Estates work I accepted whilst I wait. This included creating a very useful but amazingly obnoxious 22 page intake form for my clients to fill out. Now, having just hired me, they recieve a huge document requesting more information than they even knew existed so I can best represent their interests when drafting their Wills. They will probably hate me until they see how much it cuts down on the bill. (Without this form they would be billed for sitting in front of me while I ask them these questions in person.)

Still haven’t heard from the D.A.’s office. Maybe “Do you want to interview now or later?” was lawyer speak for “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

Crochet and criminal procedure…

Ugh. This weekend finds me glued to my desk in preparation for my first ever “real” legal interview.

Sadly, as I haven’t cracked a book on criminal law or practiced it in over two years, I am really nervous about the interview to come, positive they will ask me to spout the elements of every crime ever listed, or at least the ones I have never heard of. Yesterday I spent three hours listening to bar review cd’s on the subject of Criminal Procedure, and took a break for a dinner party right after covering warrantless searches and warrant exceptions. I have another cd and a half to go before I break out the elements charts I made for the Criminal Law portion of the bar. I hope I can refresh my groggy memory enough to respond remotely intelligibly when the questions come.

On the upside, listening to the cd means I have my hands free, so I have been crocheting hats, with googly eyes and mandibles, to keep myself from tearing my cuticles into a bloody pulp out of nerves. Maybe, if I flub the interview too badly to get the position, I will have enough backstock created that I can start my own Etsy store, and take over the world with my monster hats.

Everyone has to have a dream.

Interview with a woman in a position of power…

I had my lunch meeting yesterday and spent a very agreeable nigh two hours discussing law, politics, and gender bias over tamales and taco salad.

The woman I met with has a colorful reputation, and has many times been referred to in less than flattering terms. However, she is in a position of power in a field of law still dominated by men, and as such, I think she gets that lovely double whammy of the double standard. I mean seriously, how can you be tough on crime and feminine, it can’t happen, you must be a bitch to lay down the law. Of course, men can be completly tough and manage to appear “direct” or “authoratative” instead of prickish, but that is the way the cookie currently crumbles.

Happily, I might actually get to work for a woman who knows what I am talking about and isn’t afraid to discuss it. In fact, during our interview, she told me she was impressed that a woman my age was even aware we still had gender bias issues, as so many woman my age seem to think they are things of the past. (Don’t ask your male co-workers what they earn ladies, you won’t like the answer.) I explained to her that after nearly a decade in politics and legal education of one kind or another one would have to be an idiot not to see how differently our nation treats our female leaders and representatives from our male ones, the most recent election being an easy example.

Then she surprised me by telling me that she stopped wearing full fledged suits in court and acting unfeminine. She believes our legal system will never get used to seeing women in positions of authority if all we do when we get there is emulate men. She encouraged me to wear suits with flowing and feminine styles, lots of colors, jewelry, etc. She explained the jury will likely identify with me more too, if I look like a woman, instead of a woman trying to look like a man. Win/Win in my opinion. I would love to wear bright teal to work, and a fish hem looks heaps better on me than an a-line.

She encourages her attorneys to bring their children into the workplace, not minding if their offices contain cribs, so long as the babies don’t really distract other co-workers. She encouraged me to take work home so I can have dinner with my family and tuck my children into bed, you know, so I can actually have a work life balance.

It’s a dream within a dream, a chance to become an attorney with the experience that punches my union card without waving goodbye to my husband and kids for a decade. It’s a chance to work with a boss who gets the woman’s point of view, who understands how patronizing some people become when your suit happens to accomodate breasts and a uterus. It’s a chance to come home at the end of a frustrating day, filled with gender bias and condensencion, and know in my heart that none of it came from my boss. Not one little bit.

I am thrilled. It’s been an issue all my professional life, as an extremely generous cup size and an overabundance of natural blond hair has led to sexual harassment, improper suggestions, and emotions from dismissal to condesecion at almost every job I have ever had. I have been told to dress more conservatively than everyone else in my office, because when I put on something that other women wear, I really fill it out. I have asked to bed by bosses, and I have been treated like a child or an incompetant by older more experienced men.

Since having children it’s gotten worse, this assumption that my value is somehow lessened by their demands on my time and mind. A suggestion, by the way, that I find equally insulting to men, as it basically infers that they think nothing of their issue as they go about their day, caring only for their work. One of the reasons I began my own practice was because I was tired of being treated to the “mommy track” behaviors of potential employers. When I mentioned this at lunch, I was given a woman’s answer.

Of course it’s inconvenient when an employee goes on maternity leave, but it’s an inconvenience we, as a society, need to undertake.

I can’t wait to work for this woman.