Update: Among other things, my mother…

March 4, 2008 at 10:38 am | Posted in law school | 1 Comment

Some of the comments on my “On Balance” post have been amazing – both helpful (such as the one that told me how to get in the most billable hours possible during a day) and thought-provoking.  One such comment in particular asked why we worry about “someone else raising our child” – this commenter said he or she didn’t even really remember anything before preschool (so why does it matter?).  I actually have been thinking about this quite a bit recently. Honestly, I have not one memory of coming home from school to my mom.  She was there, of course, every day.  But any impact it has had on my development is subconscious.

Here’s what I do remember:  when my mother decided to go to law school.  She went out at night to an LSAT class.  She did her practice LSAT problems at the kitchen table.  I think I was in sixth or seventh grade, and my very smart classmate and next-door-neighbor, Mike Scully, and I would try to figure out the logic problems for ourselves.  And then, all of a sudden, she was a first-year law student.  Again, at the kitchen table, she’d tell us about her intimidating Con Law professor or a Property case where geese were flying over someone’s yard and someone else shot them down and they landed in a different yard and whose geese were they anyway?  (I remember my very first Property case was something similar about a fox – help me out here, oh ye J. Liu disciples!)   By this time, I was in eighth grade and then in high school, and my after-school hours were filled with sports and then homework and the drama of my nascent social life.  I know we had Domino’s pizza delivered what seemed like three times a week (and, indeed, to this day, I have a Pavlovian-like negative response to even the mention of Domino’s…).  But what I remember most – or, now, what I think I remember most (and what’s the difference, really?) – is that I was impressed and proud of my mother.  That after a tough few years of reacting to and recovering from her separation from my father, it seemed to me that she found herself.  Maybe for the first time ever.  She seemed more engaged and inspired that I had ever seen her.  Those are the dominant memories of my later childhood and adolescence. 

Here’s what I also remember:  my grandmother came once a week.  She was there when we got home from school or sports.  The pasta water would be boiling, the sauce simmering on the stove.  Was she sitting at the kitchen table with her shoes off having a glass of sherry?  Probably.

My own mother, now a successful prosecutor and now a grandmother, left this morning after spending five days with us.  I have to take the MPRE on Saturday; I have a 45-page paper due next week; I have to somehow run 20 miles this week (okay, that “have to” is self-imposed…), and as my grandmother did for her, she stepped in to help take care of my child so that I could follow my own dream.  Like a trooper, my mom slept on our fold-out couch for five nights, left Henry in New Jersey, suffered through a sinus infection, and changed, bathed, and fed the Little Bug.  I am more grateful than I can possibly express for her help, and just as grateful that she can be as important an influence in my daughter’s life as my grandmother was in mine. And – were it not for my mother’s example in the first place, I’m not sure I’d even be in law school.


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  1. How silly I am. I was intrigued by your thoughtful piece in the Washington Post and thought that because of my many years as a single mom and attorney, I could give you some pointers. That was before I read other excerpts from your blog. Now, I fear that you are better qualified to give me advice.

    That said, here are two pointers given to me by wiser attorneys that have proven invaluable in my career:

    1. Develop your own client base – even if you work in a large firm. This benefits you in two ways: (i) it permits you to negotiate with your current firm from a position of power; and (ii) you can leave when the time is right for you. I left my old firm a couple of years ago and was up and running as a solo within 24 hours. I rent a “real” office in town, but prefer working at my kitchen table. My daughter, who was a toddler while I attended law school, now serves as a part time paralegal while also attending school.

    2. With all your spare time, join your local Bar association. Its a great place to find good mentors. Also, most of my referrals come from attorneys that I met through professional organizations.

    So, there are my thoughts for what they are worth. And finally, work hard now, because when you hit 50, all you will have the energy to do is estate work.

    Best wishes,

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