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There are days that I wonder why it is that I choose to do what I do. There are days and then there are weeks. This was one of those weeks. It perfectly culminated in two things, a phone call where I actually couldn’t remember who I was calling or my own name since I had been on so many calls back-to-back this morning and then a short while later, when my phone rang, I couldn’t find it under all the papers on my desk. So, folks, I thought I’d share this little gem which just about sums it all up. 05c6e4b6c14213366d93d1c2a97c8264

Sometimes it’s really hard to be a parent and not necessarily just because your kids can drive you nuts — especially your teenage kids. No, I think it’s really hard because the letting go process, the process of watching your kids growing up, involves such heart tugging for parents. It is very difficult for most parents who genuinely care about the adults that their children will become to sit down or stand by and let lessons be learned however difficult those lessons might be and how much you see the hurt that comes from them reflect in your child’s eyes. It is difficult to teach your children to advocate for themselves, especially when the system might be stacked against them. It is very difficult to sit back when every molecule of your parental instinct makes you want to jump in with both feet and scream your head off about something that is not only inequitable but also inherently flawed. Let’s face it, it is something that most of us have been doing for the better part of a decade and a half or more — standing up for kids who may or may not have been able to stand up for themselves and make sure they are not hurt. It is very difficult for kids and parents alike when hurt can no longer be fixed with kisses and hugs and some lessons fall completely outside of any parental control whatsoever.

In a few of the recent situations it would be easy and less painful for the parent to throw around parental weight, especially when this parental weight comes with a law license. Easy to go in guns blazing, spewing threats of litigation and violations of due process and other legalese. Easy, but not then again not so easy. Sure, exerting pressure may have changed the outcome. What lesson, though, does my son learn when his problems were fixed by his mother or his father in that situation? What lesson, indeed. How heart wrenching for the parent-part of that lawyer to see what could be construed as an injustice being done and having to sit by idly.

Faced with decisions as parents we sometimes made a difficult choices looking out for the long term good of our children and the men or women they will become. The short term ramifications of the situations and those decisions can haunt us in the short term and cause us, as parents, to second guess what seemed so apparent at a specific moment in time.

Sometimes, however, we need to step by from the situation and not get wrapped up in the “hype” of all of it and realize that in the long term, it may not be as important as it seems this moment, but the decision that was made that preceded it and the lessons learned from that decision, may have an endless ripple effect throughout the child’s life — that is the real test, not some silly accolade, or title or piece of material.

“Congratulations! You have been determined eligible for admission to the Vermont Bar.”

This was the first line of the email I received in my mailbox this morning. What a great way to start the day. The hours of completing the paperwork necessary for admission on motion, having the whole stack of that paperwork and its many copies all notarized (thanks Sandy!) and asking people to make recommendations (gosh, she’s just a great girl)  on my behalf has finally paid off. I honestly was beginning to think that maybe they had forgot about me since I did all that back in August and assumed based on the information that I received from the Board of Bar Examiners that I would hear from them with a decision before the end of the year. The beginning of this year is just as good.

So, officially on March 30th, when I am sworn in, I will be a member of the Vermont bar, a licensed attorney in the state. Woohoo! Hooray for me!

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Us lawyers have a way, most would argue, of complicating everything. Here’s a little something that I have seen before, circulating about the internet, to give credence to that claim and hopefully put a smile on your face.

The Night Before Christmas….Lawyer Version

Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter “the House”) a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to, a mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g. stockings, socks, etc., had been affixed by and around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a/k/a St. Nicholas a/k/a Santa Claus (hereinafter “Claus”) would arrive at sometime thereafter.

The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House were located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein visions of confectionary treats including, but not limited to, candies nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams. Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter referred to as “I”), being the joint-owner in fee simple of the House with the party of the second part (hereinafter “Mama”), and said Mama had retired for a sustained period of sleep. (At such time, the parties were clad in various forms of headgear, e.g. kerchief and cap.)

Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the unimproved real property adjacent and appurtenant to said House, i.e. the lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstances. The party of the first part did immediately rush to a window in the House to investigate the cause of such disturbance. At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some degree of wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter “the Vehicle”) being pulled

and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8) reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be, and in fact was, the previously referenced Claus. Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically identified the animal co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen (hereinafter “the Deer”). (Upon information and belief, it is further asserted that an additional

co-conspirator named “Rudolph” may have been involved.)

The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer intentionally and willfully trespass upon the roofs of several residences located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the Vehicle was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either express or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said House via the chimney. Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially covered with residue from the chimney, and he carried a large sack

containing a portion of the aforementioned packages, toys and other unknown items. He was smoking what appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of local ordinances and health regulations. Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stockings of the minor children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small gifts.  (Said items did not, however, constitute “gifts” to said minors pursuant to the applicable provisions of the U.S. Tax Code.) Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as “lookouts”. Claus immediately departed for an unknown destination. However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim: “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.” Or words to that effect.

One of my last duties as president of my bar association is to write my last “President’s Message” which will appear in the next newsletter. I thought that it would be neat to write something that I thought was relevant to me and perhaps some words to live by.  So, for any of you that might be interested, here it is:

Justitia, the Roman goddess of justice, is the personification of the legal profession. She is an infamous symbol of the fair and equal administration of law. She is the legal system’s personification of balance. The blindfolded woman in the flowing robes balancing the scales with the double-edged sword is depicted throughout the world in courtrooms, legal publications and courthouses. We see her so often that we seldom think about what it is that Justitia symbolizes. She carries a set of scales that balance the justice in a case, weighing the pros and cons of each litigant’s position and a double-edged sword, which is wielded to dispense justice and reason as necessary to the deserving party. She is blindfolded to indicate that justice should be meted out fairly without regard for who is involved. Justitia is a befitting symbol not for our profession but also for us, individually, as attorneys. Female attorneys must be well balanced. Just as Justitia, we are constantly battling to keep equilibrium in our lives. We endeavor to balance our professional and our personal lives. This balance that the goddess of justice manages so effortlessly, is not easy to maintain, particularly if you are a woman attorney raising young children. You are often torn between family commitments, family issues, career related choices and commitments. We find ourselves all too often judged unfairly by those who have little insight into our personal lives. We sometimes have to justify to total strangers why one may be more important than the other at any given instance in time.

A woman who puts her family before her legal career, particularly in the area of litigation, is usually referred to as taking the “Mommy track” when she is a part of a firm and thought to be less than motivated when she practices elsewhere.  In either instance, she is judged by where her values lie at that moment in her life and the end result is usually less than desirable. Women who choose to put their legal career before their families are often thought to be obstinate and referred to by many people in less-than-complimentary terms. In a truly “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario, we are constantly battling the external prejudices that fly in our face everyday. We are, nonetheless, usually our own worst enemies, making ourselves jump through hoops to attempt to be everything to everyone.

There are some people that might view my decision to forego a second term as President with incredulity.  I view it as a proverbial “fork in the road” in my life. As I write this to you I have relocated out of state to a much more rural area. Primary in that decision, I will not deny it, is the beneficial aspect this decision will have on my children. My husband and I are raising three boys and have chosen to do it in what we consider a much better environment for them; presented with opportunity to have that choice.  I am fortunate enough to have chosen a legal path that has given me the opportunity to do what I do, what I can say I actually enjoy doing, from where I would like to do it. I realize that I am luckier than most and for this I am very grateful. I am the editor of two nationally recognized legal publications, National Jury Verdict Review & Analysis and New England Jury Verdict Review & Analysis.  In this capacity, I enjoy the ability to speak with attorneys, both male and female from all over the United States about their jury trials. Most often than not, I speak to the winning side, but there is on occasion the “losing” attorney who is more than willing to discuss the case as well. I have a great opportunity to constantly learn not only the laws relevant to the jurisdictions to which I am admitted but to jurisdictions, both state and federal, across the entire country. I enjoy the ability to learn about different aspects of each case that I write about and in the process learn new trial techniques or new things that I would most likely never venture to explore if this were not my career.

My career has taken many twists and turns along the way in the almost twenty years that I have been admitted as an attorney, with my family life tied closely to each of those decisions. I know many other women who are doing the same “give and take”. We cannot look back on each decision and speculate “what if….” otherwise we lose the ability to enjoy the good fortune that we have been given in each of our choices. Don’t be afraid to open yourself up to new and different experiences, you never know where the path you choose may lead you.

The field of law is constantly evolving and there are many opportunities for women at all different stages in their lives to have a freedom and a flexibility that was not available to us just 10 or 15 years ago. We must open ourselves up to these new choices and tread ahead unafraid. We are the pioneers for the women that will come after us, just as many of the older women attorneys have carved pathways that enable us to do what we are able to do today. For example, when I had my first son, I was working in a firm and there was no flextime or part-time positions available. Now, flextime and part-time positions are more common, yet not as prevalent and well received as they could or should be. I know an enormous number of women my age with families that could do more legal work in a part-time or flex schedule situation while raising their children and in doing so, could put some “full-timers” to shame. And as one of my dear friend and colleagues put it, when you leave your legal work for the day, most of us are just starting our “mommy work”. We are used to being on duty, to be working 24/7, it is an inherent part and parcel of our make-up, we should just be able to do it on our own terms, and enjoy it.

The “fork” I have taken is that which best suits the person that I have become over the years, not just the lawyer that I am. As women, we should never shove aside our personal lives to pursue our professional lives.  We are a package, a composite of our experiences. We are the professional women that we are today because of the personal women we are. Our femininity, our friends, our colleagues, our spouses and our families define us and shape us. None of us should have to apologize to anyone for who we are. I enjoy being a lawyer, I worked very hard to become a lawyer, I am very proud to be a lawyer, however being a lawyer does not define who I am. Celebrate your uniqueness, go forward to carve new and exciting pathways for those women who will follow us. Walk through life free of the blindfold that Justitia dons, explore your opportunities looking straight ahead to the future, not down and never back.

My best to all of you,



Evilwife on the move

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