Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How I make my money, honey

LOOK OUT. Posting 2 days in a row. Or, if you weren't waiting with baited breath last night when I posted at 9, 2 in ONE DAY. Don't get used to it peeps.. but I have a MORBID fascination with what people do/how they wind up in their I figured I'd join the fun.
If you haven't gathered by now, I just graduated from law school and took the bar exam. (What? The months of whining/anxiety/desperation dripping off this blog wasn't a clue?!)
Let's back up a smidge. According to my mother, I've been saying I wanted to be a lawyer since the 4th grade. My earliest memory of that may have been 7th or 8th grade, but I'm not one to argue. My great grandpa, grandpa, great uncle were all lawyers, and my uncle currently is one. He's actually a partner at the firm I work at. Go on, roll your eyes, not that I feel the need to defend myself but there's a certain "ah" moment people have when I tell them I have family at the firm. I have never ONCE done a project for him. Less to do with keeping things fair, more to do with the fact that he's an insane Type-A and doesn't really let anyone do anything for him.
Anyway, I went to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, up der on da nort shore. You may have seen it in the news with the catastrophic flooding/earthquake looking streets last month. I graduated with a B.A. in English. I knew I wanted to go to law school, and unless you're doing patent law, the undergrad degree makes zero difference. SO, I did something I enjoyed.
From there, I went to WMCL in St. Paul. This is also where my entire family has gone to law school.
 See! That happened. And because everybody loves a photo of me in my wizard garb:
SO, it's quite obvious to say I'm going to be a lawyer (knock on wood) come November. In the meantime, I am a law clerk.
I realize that not many people have any real idea what it is lawyers do. Believe me, it's not as glamorous as Law & Order, or The Good Wife, but I honestly still really like it. Therefore, I find people are further confused when I tell them I'm a clerk. What does a clerk do all day? It varies from firm to firm.
I work in a mid-sized (20 attorneys) primarily real estate, bankruptcy, and construction law, law firm. We do a smidge of personal injury, railroad work, property tax appeals for a chain store, and serve as the city attorney for a TEENY tiny town of 200. Mostly, we represent a good handful of banks. So, we do all their commercial loans (think, tens of millions of $$), and in the last few years, all their foreclosures.
Yesterday, for example, I was highlighting a ginormous stack of sales ratio studies for our property tax appeals. To uncomplicate it as much as possible, if the ratio of property tax assessments in the area to actual sales prices is LESS than 90% it's indicative that there was an "unequal assessment" and further grounds for an appeal. Why would you appeal property taxes if they assessed you too high? For most people, residential taxes wouldn't make much of a difference. You may save a couple hundred bucks. Our client is a chain store, and they may save $50,000. SO, makes a diff. Haha.
Before I took the bar exam, I was doing research for a railroad case. Most of what I do is legal research. What that means is the partner will call me into their office and say "mkay, so, here's the background of the case. We have A and B. We represent A. An employee of B was injured in such-n-such manner. The employee is suing the employer under X, Y, Z theory. Well, the employee said in the initial report that he was ACTUALLY injured doing something different. If that's true, statute P doesn't apply, but theory D might. AND now B is suing us for indemnification under contract Q. Figure out if we're liable."
That was obviously simplifying things, but it's just a hypo. I obviously have to be careful what I say.. attorney-client privilege and whatnot.
So, from there I hop on the interwebz, and our legal databases, and start trying to piece together how the statutes, the cases, the contracts we have with the other party work together. It's a giant puzzle. Sometimes it's intensely overwhelming trying to figure out where to start, but when it comes together it can be fun! Or at least, I like it.
My favorite thing I've done recently is drafting a response letter to opposing counsel. Initially attorneys do a lot of informal communication and jockeying. They'll send letters that basically say, "look.. dude.. you don't stand a chance, here's the law that says Y, so we can settle this now and save everyone time and money, or we can take it to court." and then the other side replies. I sometimes wonder how effective these letters are, BUT they're fun to write! You have to do a bunch of research, include the favorable law, be persuasive, address the issues THEY raised in their letter and try to dismiss/distinguish them, and SOMETIMES be a lil' bit sassy in the process. All in about a page and a half.
Anyway, that was rambly, but a small sampling of some of the stuff I do here. It's really all over the map and I could keep going for pages and pages, but the legal research comprises about 90% right now. When I'm an actual attorney, I'll be the lowest on the totem pole wherever I am so that won't change much, but there will be more brief writing and whatnot.
Hope I didn't bore you all to death. Sometimes I wonder how much/little people want to know/care about what I do, what law school is like, etc. Maybe I'll open a post up to questions in the future. Also, I feel like the oddball because reading these link ups, 90% of people are in creative fields like marketing, advertising, etc. Haha. Oh well. I'll always be the suit.


  1. I love you in your wizard outfit!! :) SO CUTE! I can't wait for the news that you passed your test!

  2. Love the explanation about drafting letters-- does sound kind of SASSY and fun ;-) My cousin is a lawyer but she recently moved to family law... Which is very, very depressing because she deals with a lot of divorces obviously.

    Love the photo of you in your wizard outfit as well ;-) TOO CUTE!

  3. Ok, hold the phone! you are the second mn blogger that i've learned went to UMD. I did too. From 2002-2006. What about you? My degree is in Marketing.