Reflections of a Self-Proclaimed Genius

Thoughts, opinions, questions, comments, concerns.... Anything you want to discuss, with a primary focus on the law and dumb lawyer anecdotes. **Disclaimer: All characters are fictional and their stories, though based on real life events and real people, are ALL FICTIONAL. *** SMILE AWHILE

Monday, July 19, 2010

Consumer Bankruptcy Basics Free Seminar - Ontario YMCA, Ontario, CA 07-28-2010 - AmericanTowns.com

Consumer Bankruptcy Basics Free Seminar - Ontario YMCA, Ontario, CA 07-28-2010 - AmericanTowns.com

In this time of uncertainty and economic downturn, I urge you to educate yourself on options available to you. If you are in the Southern California area, there is a FREE SEMINAR presented by Rodrigo Law Firm regarding Consumer Bankruptcy. All attendees of this event receive discount on Bankruptcy services as well as educational handouts.

Rodrigo Law Firm is located at 3200 Guasti Road, Suite 100, Ontario, California 91761. You may RSVP by calling (909) 456-8833. The event is hosted at the Ontario YMCA.

Have a good day!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lackluster Law

The economy is in a downward trend. Everyone is worried about the future of their jobs, housing, GAS, and even attorneys are fearful of their futures. In a society where more and more (and more and more) attorneys are passing the BAR, one cannot help but wonder if there is enough work.

When I first became an attorney, or rather when I began law school, my thoughts were I will always have a job as long as there are people in the world. Well, now I'm not so sure. I have been reading articles about big law firms laying off new associates, not hiring or cutting back on their summer associate programs. I have been listening to idle chatter about small law firms not retaining enough new clients to pay their leases, and hearing the stories of my boss who claims the economy is hitting us hard.

What is one to wonder when you think, alright am I doing enough? I am worth my keep? Moreover, I hate family law. This is the most cruel law to practice. All day, everyday you are dealing with highly emotional, stressed out, hurt and angry people, who fight with each other for the sake of fighting. Or WORSE-- fight over their children, just to get back at the other for the dumbest things, like "he called me psycho," "she said I was lazy"... blah blah.

Then you have to hear these people telling you: "I can't pay you right now, because I have to pay this or that." Then you see them with a new car, a new hairdo (dye, cut, etc) and a fresh manicure. Here I am thinking, "gee, and here I am unable to afford paying for a basic pedicure, let alone paying for acrylic nails."

So, yesterday, my boss says to me: "My attorney friend said he only got one retainer in the month of March." Can you believe that? We are in a business where there are hundreds if not thousands of new divorce, custody, paternity, child support, filings each day. Then he says "He is even offering low retainers and no one is hiring."

What are we to do in an economy where people are being laid off, paying high prices for gas, mortgages, and now rice? They cannot afford our services. Are we to close up shop? Downsize?

Yet, in our office, there is no huge slow down on work. Yes, I am actually able to breathe and not be on edge wishing there was more time in the day to complete my tasks; but the work is still there. I feel like I have time to "Catch up" and stay there.

How hard are we to fall until the economy picks up again?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Change and Conflict

On October 16, 2007, I had to write up an employee. The reason was that she was not following my directions, interrupting me when I was trying to remind her of our policies and giving me an overall “whatever, it doesn’t matter attitude.” I hate having to give employees written warnings. The most difficult part of the ordeal was trying to explain to her why I was giving her a written warning. She became completely defensive, negative, and rude. She would not listen to me when I was trying to explain to her once more. I identified the need for her to follow directions, the need for respect between the two of us and the need for accurate records.

Giving employees a written warning is a new policy for our office. One that was used once since I have been at the firm (which is now 4 years), but now intended to be implemented more often, by me as the office manager. This is a change that has developed, but it is new to all new employees. Unfortunately, once I give someone a written notice, our relationship changes, usually for the worst. I expect that she will not be at our firm much longer. I intended to terminate her employment with us by the end of October, if she did not quit before I do so. Lately, I have seen a turn around in her attitude. She is more pleasant, follows directions, though she has a really bad memory, and I feel a small degree of respect in our relationship. Let's see how long it lasts. I really planned to let her go by the end of October, but we need assistance at the office.

I am struggling with finding the “right” people to work at our firm. I am trying to find employees who will work, follow directions and be willing to partake in the development of our firm. Unfortunately, there are few people in the world interested in such a position. At least, the people I have been finding are not like that.

The other hard part is there is one employee at our firm who has been with the main attorney since he started his practice 20 years ago. She is the biggest obstacle to change that I am facing. She is stubborn, moody and at times appears to be sabotaging my efforts so that no changes will be made. She likes the slow “do it or don’t, it doesn’t matter” type of organization in which she has been employed. That cannot keep going. The whole purpose of me managing the office is to ensure that work gets done, on time and properly. In essence, changes have to be made, procedures must be put into place and people need to get on board. This one employee has given all new employees the idea that they do not have to do the work the way I say it should be done, because “that’s not how we do it.” WRONG! For some reason, the main attorney will not think of letting her go. I have no power over her, nor do I have any control. At least we have not butted heads in a couple of weeks.

Long story short, change is difficult when you have forces that are working to impede your everyday efforts. Increased urgency exists. I just have not been able to “build the right team.” I know to build the right team, I will need to “push out” the bad employee, but I lack that authority.

I think I have experienced more conflict with the past eight months, than my entire life. It all stems out of my attempts to realize my vision of success for the company. After reading step 3 of leadership theorist, John Kotter’s book "The Heart of Change", I have found that I do not have any stated concrete “vision”. At one point, I attempted to create a vision for our firm with the help of our staff, but they had no interest in assisting, and neither did the senior attorney. Right now, I have a personal vision of success in life and in my career, but I am struggling to create one for our organization. The aspects of my vision for our organization center around: quality service, increased efficiency and productivity (which links to quality service) and growth of the business. I do not think I have succeeded on much, because I am struggling to find the “right team” to help me realize this vision. It is a professional battle that wages and encumbers upon my personal life.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rage in the Office

Today I experienced one of the most highly contentious conflicts, in which I lost my “cool”. I have not had this type of conflict since I was in college. Here’s the story:

I had a court appearance this morning for a client. The opposing counsel notified me the night before that he was going to request a continuance and would not be there early in the morning, because he had a criminal matter. He did not give me a time estimate.

I arrived in court at approximately 9:00 a.m. I advised the bailiff and the clerk that the opposing counsel said he would be in court, but did not give me a time estimate. I told the clerk that the opposing counsel had another matter, but would be at the hearing. I then called the opposing counsel’s office and asked if he would be in court and what time. His staff had no idea and stated that he had not given them instructions. I asked if he could call in to the court and let them know when he would be arriving.

The clerk notified me that the opposing counsel was still in Riverside on a criminal matter and did not give a time estimate. I asked if he could appear by phone, and the clerk stated that the opposing counsel was to pre-arrange a court call, which he did not do.

I advised the court that I was unsure of when the opposing counsel would arrive, and the court stated it would wait until 9:30 a.m. During the time I waited, I cleared calendar dates for a trial with the clerk and with the opposing counsel’s office. The court called the case and instantly advised me that the case had a long history of continuances, that the parties were admonished that no further continuances would be granted and asked what I would like to do. I told him our client wished to set the matter for trial. The court set it for trial on the day mutually agreed upon by myself and the opposing counsel’s office. Then I relayed the issues.

The opposing counsel’s office was notified of what occurred, and the opposing counsel called my office requesting to speak with me. I did not want to speak to him, because I was working on filling out paperwork. My secretary then advised me that the attorney was going to go back in front of the court and request that the trial date be vacated and the matter be set for a MSC. So, I spoke with the attorney.

He began yelling at me and telling me that I had a duty, as an officer of the court, to notify the court that he was tied up in a criminal matter and to put the matter over to another day. I calmly told him that I did advise the clerk of what I knew, what the judge said to me and the total occurrence. He began yelling and screaming at me that I had the duty to tell the court and not to appear until he got there or to put it over.

I calmly told him not to yell at me and that I had no such duty. My duty was for the client, not the attorney. He then stated that I was lying, that I did not notify the court, and that the clerk told him that I never said anything to them. He kept stating that I had a duty to notify the court, what I did was wrong, etc.

I could not handle the yelling or blaming anymore. I raised my voice, which escalated to the point of yelling at the attorney. I told him that he had a duty to notify the court, that he did not call in or put the matter on second call and he did not even inform his staff of what occurred. Then I told him not to yell at me, that I could not talk to him anymore and that if he wanted to talk to me to put it in writing. Then I hung up. I was so upset I was shaking.

My fiancé (law clerk) and the senior attorney, were ecstatic and proud of me. The senior attorney has dealt with this attorney for 20 years. He told me that if I did not stand up for myself he would have no respect for me, would have continued to yell at me and would walk all over me. My fiancé stated the same and said that he had never heard me yell at anyone like that.

I have been experiencing so much guilt, regret and anger over the past few months. My anger and perhaps even rage, has been waging war within me. Yet, with all my inner turmoil, and dealings with persons such as this attorney, I have not lost my “cool”. I am an extremely patient person and do not take things out on others. Or at least I try not to. Usually, when I am in a conflict with someone, I walk away if my rage starts to boil over. I have had experiences of regretting my conduct and words during a conflict, so I have learned to walk away, calm down, then return to the situation.

In this case, I feel like I had no choice. This person was insulting my integrity, lecturing me on ethics and the way of the world. He was completely in the wrong. I had no duty to hold the case up until he arrived. These attorneys make the rest of us look bad. They give us a bad name. I know his personal style and office, and know for a fact that he does not work on cases, and only continues them until he is off the case. That cannot be allowed. Moreover, he is the unethical person that I previously posted about. He has no right to lecture me on ethics!

Further, he is known to be a big bully in our community. I hope my actions do not speak ill of me. I sort of regret that I lost my cool, but I couldn’t just sit there like a beaten animal waiting for the next blow.

This is truly an example of a conflict that escalated to an irritatingly high impact level. What could I have done different? This is truly upsetting. And I have work that needs to be done.

Monday, June 18, 2007

TIps for the California BAR

People have been asking me for advice on studying for, taking and passing the BAR exam. So I thought I'd post my advice.
Tips:

1. Take a full 2 months off to study. Do not do anything other than study. No work, no school and minimal socializing.
2. Study at least 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, for the first 6 weeks. Make sure you give yourself at least 1 day off (or I did 1/3 days-- i.e., I studied for 3-4 hours on Sundays then took the rest of the day off). For the last 2 weeks you should be studying at least 10-12 hours per day with no days off.
3. Get a full 8 hours of sleep every night for the first 6 weeks. Sleep is the best time of day for me. I need to sleep. If I was not able to sleep, I at least put myself in "sleep mode." So I relaxed, watched t.v. and lied in bed. For the last 2 weeks you will be lucky if you sleep 4 hours a night. But do try to get at least 5-6 hours of sleep. It is refreshing to sleep.
4. Take frequent breaks. If you start to get a headache, step away from the books, breathe, take a walk, play with your dogs or other animals. Just get your mind cleared for at least 10 minutes.
5. Exercise and eat healthy!! I cannot stress this part enough. I went to the gym, walked with my study partner and dogs, etc. My mom sent over food to us all the time. Chili beans, tofu, rice and mushrooms, etc. So eat well. And comfort food was always nice, like ice cream. Why not treat yourself?
6. Do lots of Essays. I wrote out at least 20 essays and outlined around 1000. When you are studying a subject, you should be studying the essays. That is the best way to memorize the law, understand it and figure out how to apply it.
7. Do TONS of MBEs. I did approximately 2000 MBEs. At least 33 per day. Once a week for the first 6 weeks I would do at least 100 at a time. Make sure you are always practicing under timed conditions. By the end I was finishing 100 MBEs in 2 hours. In fact I finished 100 MBEs on the bar in 2 1/2 hours. After doing them, go over the answers-- right and wrong! Use the concise points of law stated in the answers. Put it all in your outlines.
8. Do at least 6 Performance Tests and Outline/Review 10 different Tests. Nothing more to say than be familiar with the different type of performance tests that may come up.

If you take all the above information to heart, you should pass the BAR.
I did all of it and passed the First time!

If you need any more advice feel free to ask.

I will be willing to look at written essays and give my input for a small fee.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

EXCITING NEWS

I passed the California BAR Exam on my first try. On May 25 at approximately 6:30 p.m. I found out that I passed the BAR!! This was an exciting day for me and a sad one as well. My partner did not pass. He is currently studying for the July exam. I certainly hope that he is able to pass the July Bar. It is not the same working without him. Moreover, it is difficult to be happy for myself when he is so miserable.

Well, moving on. I was sworn in on June 1 at approximately 9:00 a.m. by Judge Brown of the San Bernardino Superior Court. My swearing in was conducted in open court, solely for me. That was nerve wracking and extremely exciting. I was hardly able to repeat the oath.

Seven years of school, 2 straight months of studying, mounting student loans and debt was all worth it. I passed!!! Let's hope I am able to pay some of my debt, beginning this year.

More wonderful news--- I found out that a digest I wrote about two years ago was published in the ULV Law Journal printed in 2006. How great is that? I have a hard bound copy imprinted with my name and nearly 30 paperback copies of my piece. That was good news for me. I truly did not think I was published, but now I am. This is another huge step forward in my life.

Happy Blogging All!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Century Ride

I recently joined a group called Team in Training. It works with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to raise funds for research to find a cure for blood cancer diseases. I will be training for a 100 mile bicycle race called a "Century Ride" in August. For my part I have committed myself to a personal goal of raising $5,000 for the Society.

I could really use all the support I can get. We start training this week. Part of the reason I am participating in this team is because my life partner's sister died from Leukemia when she was just 5. He is also joining the team, but is still not sure if he wants to broadcast his sister's death. I am trying to be understanding. However, I think she should be remembered and her memory honored by this race. Hopefully he will come around.

If you would like to donate you can do so online at my personal webpage:
http://www.active.com/donate/tntors/tntorsCGarcia2

Please try to support me. Any words of advice or encouragement are truly needed and appreciated.

I am not a very atheletic person, so this will be a huge challenge for me!
 
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