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As many of you know, I am an attorney. Today in the mail I received a letter from a business known as the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys. Inc. advising me that I am a spectacular attorney and I have been chosen from their “rigorous selection process” to receive their “prestigious” Top 10 Attorney Award. The letter goes to tell me that this association has been in existence since 2013 (really?) with the primary goal of recognizing the top 10 family law lawyers in each state for their “hard work”. I am urged to return my acceptance by a specific date or my spot will be given to the first alternate. The second page entitled “Award Acceptance Form” contains spots for all the necessary information for me to receive my “prestigious” award including the spot where I can indicate how I want to pay the $250 Award Administration Fee to them for this honor. When I fork over $250, they will provide me with a plaque telling me how wonderful I am as a Top 10 Attorney.
There are days when my self confidence may slip a little low, but honestly, I don’t think I need to fork over $250 for a plaque to remind myself of how special I really am. Plus, it would help if they got my name correct. I haven’t been “Smith” since 1992 and I am not licensed in Vermont under that name at all. That, and the fact that a Google search doesn’t come up with any such organization on the first page of hits, is more than enough to make me say, thanks, but no thanks.
I think I’ll file this one where it belongs…..in the trash.
There are people who enter your life and leave an indelible impression on your soul. Ones that impart lessons and leave a mark that lives with you for all your days. When you least expect it, you hear their words echo in your head or feel their presence as if they were there with you. For me, one of those persons was a man that I met as an employer, learned to admire and respect and became a second dad to me as I grew into the woman that I have become. When I lost my own father, he was someone that was always there to lend a gentle, guiding hand – a person who was truly happy and proud of my accomplishments, much as my own dad would have been if he were still with me. I came to know his family, watched his daughters grow into wonderful, amazing women of whom he was immensely proud.
Today is his birthday. The last time I spoke to him was on this day several years ago, just prior to his death. Unbeknown to me at the time, he was ill and would died less than two weeks later from an unknown ailment that he most likely acquired while he was doing something that he loved and aspired to do for a very long time, working with the Peace Corps. He taught me lots of lessons in the years that I had known him, how to be a good lawyer, how to treat people fairly, how to be ethical in my profession and how to never be afraid to learn something new. I remember that when his daughters learned the violin, he took lessons right alongside them, never having played the violin himself. He decided that he wanted to learn Spanish (which he would later use in the Peace Corps) so he enrolled in college to take Spanish lessons. He learned Pilates and took dance lessons. He was known for the fedora hats that he sported on a daily basis, both around town and in the courthouse. He was a proud Marine and the father of three West Point graduates.
He taught me that a lot of things can be worked through with a simple “walk around the block”.
He was, for all intents and purposes, in the decades that I knew him, a second father. I cried almost as much as I cried for my own dad when I learned that he passed away. Just like my dad was the only one to call me “Babe”, John was the only one who could call me “Kiddo” (beside my own husband) and get away with it.
After he passed away I made a trip to New Jersey to help his wife go through old files. I sat on the floor of the room that contained years of legal work, much of which I was a part of, and cried alongside her. They were, and still are, like family.
You never know when the stranger that entered your life will leave that kind of mark. You never know how you are touched by those, once strangers, who become family. You never know how they will shape the person you become. Just like I miss my own dad, I miss him too. I always think of him when June 15th rolls around and smile. He was one of a kind and will always hold a special place in my heart.
Happy Birthday John Dolan Harrington, you are very much missed.
May 1st was proclaimed by President Eisenhower in 1958 to be Law Day, recognizing the role that law played in the creation of our country and what sets it apart from other countries in the world. In 1961 the holiday was officially recognized by the Congress. It was created as an affront to communism during the Cold War since May 1st is traditionally referred to as May Day and not usually meaning flowers and springtime, but rather reflecting upon the role of laborers or workers and their struggles. Law Day, while an official holiday is not a holiday that is widely celebrated in this country outside of legal circles. Law schools and bar associations may commemorate the day with various programs or celebrations. For instance, Seton Hall Law School, the school that I attended, had a traditional Law Day Mass and celebration every May 1st. Perhaps the most distinct memory I have associated with Law Day is an attorney that I worked for through law school and after when I became a lawyer. He would always appear in the office on Law Day donning a lovely boutonniere purchased for him by his wife, to commemorate Law Day. After I passed the bar, he would bring a flower of sorts to the office for me. It is a memory that will always be associated with the day and reminds me of someone who had a very important role in my life.
Happy Law Day!
- Watch an informative webinar to celebrate Law Day. (privacydatasystems.wordpress.com)
- Kevin Fitzgerald: This year’s Law Day about equality for all people (pantagraph.com)
- State Bar Arizona Provides Free Legal Clinics On National Law Day (tucsonweekly.com)
- Celebrate Law Day – May 1 (lotl.wordpress.com)
I really don’t post about legal stuff, since it’s kind of like bringing your work home with you. I do however find it interesting how the legal community is having a really hard time wrapping its head around blogging and twitter (and other 21st century technology). Tom likes to joke that us lawyers still think that the earth is flat since technology is, for the most part, extremely absent from the legal world. Two recent cases though (one civil and one criminal) have had to deal with issues of jurors sending tweets through Twitter while they were serving on the jury. Now, this is pretty interesting stuff. As a lawyer, we die to know what goes on in the jury room. Juries are so wrapped in mystery and the average litigation lawyer would just love to be a fly on the wall in deliberations. However, jurors are instructed not to discuss the case with anyone other than fellow jurors. So… the legal conundrum — does sending out tweets count as discussing the case? Does it violate the sanctity of the jury room? Here is a link to an interesting article on the subject.
Tomorrow marks the end of a fairly unsatisfying year in my role as president. To mark the occasion, the last official act that I have to attend conflicts with my middle son’s elementary graduation. I have rattled around in my mind, whether I should have declined to attend, but that somehow riddles me with guilt. But I am more riddled with motherly guilt. I hate having to decide and the sad part is the winner of the battle of guilt is not the true winner. I really don’t care much whether or not I attend the function and except for a few friends that I will be glad to see, I could miss the entire night without a second thought and sadly without a second thought from most of those I will see tomorrow. Under other circumstances, the end result would be different. The school changed the night of graduation due to scheduling with snow days and this caused the conflict with this event which was already scheduled and invitations sent and acknowledged.
I am saddened these last few days as to how little regard I hold with this group. They do not realize the magnitude of the sacrifice that I am making to be there tomorrow night, and frankly I am sure as a collective, they wouldn’t care even if they did know. I really don’t know what I was thinking when I signed on for this some 5 years ago. It has given me personal and marital strife and a great deal of agitation overall. Somehow, even last June, I thought I could change the world, or at least our group’s little part of it. How sadly mistaken I have been. You cannot change those that do not want to be changed. Or those that don’t see a need for change. I think I work best changing a person at a time, rather than a group. I wish them the best, but I think we are better off without one another. We see things differently, that group and I. I see the world and the profession of law in a different light than most of them, probably because we are different stages in our lives; lawyer is my job, it is my career choice, it is something I am proud to be, but it does not define who I am.