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It's Time

My New Year's Resolution was to update the AC more often. *looks at archives* I see that I've posted three times this month and that I've already failed miserably at my resolution. Yeah, part of it is that I don't have time because Hellfire and Damnation need raising. Part of it is that I lost my Ruth!voice and I can't find the balance between being silly while still projecting an air of professionalism. Part of it is that I can look back and point out the times when I could have (and maybe should have) wrapped things up (e.g., after graduation, after taking the bar, after passing the bar, after getting a job).

But I didn't wrap things up. I always thought there was more to Ruth's story. And, honestly, I wasn't ready to let go. The AC really brought me a lot of joy, and--quite frankly--I like the attention.

Now, though... it's just time. If I'm being honest with myself, I lost Ruth the moment I reported for work. Ruth is silly, prone to folly, overly fond of alcohol, and disdainful of those to who do well. Now that I'm working, I have to be serious (sometimes) (like when I'm explaining to a client that if he didn't like jail he probably shouldn't have violated his probation by repeatedly getting high and breaking curfew), I try to avoid folly since I'm supposedly a professional, I only drink alcohol in moderation, and... I'm doing okay. Some might even say I'm doing well. I've become the anti-Ruth, with nothing to complain about except the occasional asshat family members of my clients and the fact that my kids sometimes act like spoiled brats. Ruth reveled in mediocrity, but I kind of don't want to be mediocre anymore. Ruth was sarcastic and a little cynical. And lately... I've been... earnest. Honestly, y'all, that last part is the worst. Ruth laughs at people who are earnest, and do you know how disturbing it is when your semi-fictional alter ego is laughing at you? I mean, it's hard to wrap your mind around that concept without grabbing for the DSM-IV.

So this is it. For the 30 or so of you who still stop in a few times a week, thanks for sticking with me until the end. I'll miss you guys. For those of you who already moved on and therefore probably won't read this anyway, best of luck. If you know the real Ruth, feel free to keep in touch via email, my "real life" blog, the Facebook, etc.

I'd like to thank a few people (some of whom will read this and some of whom won't). First, Antonin, for starting up this craziness with me in the first place. The Peregrinus, RCD, The Infamous El Guapo, Alfred, SH, ladyvorkosigan, and other regular commentators, I know who you really are, so you haven't heard the last of me. ;) To the UT professors who read this blog, esp Professor McDreamy (who was a great sport about the whole thing, which meant that I didn't actually die of embarrassment, I only wanted to), the Dz, and the Dean Search committee. I was always amused (and a little weirded out, really) that y'all read this thing. Thanks to Buffalo Wings & Vodka for being awesome and funny and for that one time you linked to the AC and I got like a thousand hits. That was pretty awes. To the UT Law classes of 2007 and 2008, thanks for reading.

I now pass the torch on to Danielle, my favorite of the current UT Law bloggers. She's not quite Ruth, but I think if we'd been at school at the same time, we'd have probably had geeky DVD marathons on Saturdays while she taught me to knit Jayne hats. Anyway, she's fun and you should read her musings if you don't already.

I started this blog to be silly and have a good time. Mission accomplished. I'll catch y'all on the flip side.
I mean, while I was in law school I posted all sorts or outrageous things: crushes on professors, wacky awards that could possibly be considered offensive by some, chronicles of my alcohol-related high jinks. I never felt truly restricted in what I could post here, and that whole baring my soul to the masses thing kind of worked for the hundred or so people who visited per day.

But now? I feel really limited in what I can post. I find myself being responsible (BAH!) and doing things like asking myself whether a certain post would violate confidentiality rules and/or whether it's appropriate to post that a particular client annoys the hell out of me. I hesitate to post about other attorneys because what if they find this blog, figure out it's them I'm talking about, and then act all weird around me from then on. And I can't post about the super handsome judge because, um, so much more inappropriate than blogging about a super handsome law professor.

It's as if the bright line rule of inappropriateness that I could see so clearly while in law school has wasted away to the point where it's not really a line at all so much as a blur, and something that I wouldn't have thought twice about posting during school would now never make it on the intrawebs.

All of this, of course, makes it hard to really get the feel for Blogging While Employed. I've actually written ten or so entries that I kept locked because I wasn't sure where on the blurry "line" they fell. (Okay, yeah, that's totally just an excuse for my poor blogging habits these days, but it's somewhat valid, right?)

So, I'm going to try to come up with a list of bloggable topics (feel free to contribute) and see if I can't salvage the AC. Right now I'm leaning towards an in-depth post looking at bailiffs and whether or not they're date-able. ;)

Ah, clients...

Most days I love my job. Most days I'm really happy when I can do some good for my clients and I'm disappointed when things don't go as well as I'd like. Most days I'm proud of the work I've done, and I appreciate it when my clients and/or their families say a simple thanks and smile and shake my hand.

Then there are days like yesterday, where a particularly rude and uncalled-for phone call from a client's family member makes me want to check and see if the DA is hiring.

But instead of putting in my two weeks notice, I simply threw the client's file onto my desk with as much force as I could use without actually damaging the file, and then I said mean things about the family member under my breath and imagined myself being quite satisfied after really saying those things instead of acting like a professional. Then I tried telling myself that they were only being rude to me because they are frustrated that their loved one is in jail, but that didn't make me feel better at all so I went back to cursing at the file folder, despite it being an inanimate object and all that.

On the bright side, I got to use the word "belligerent" while on the phone with this family member, and "belligerent" is such a fun word. I'll get to use it again when I explain to my client why that family member should from now on deliver any questions or concerns via the client or his wife, because I don't see myself taking any more phone calls from that particular family member.

More Proof That I'm a Fantastic Mother

I had Hellfire's and Damnation's school stuff all packed and ready to go for tomorrow only to discover that they don't actually go back to school until Wednesday.


That sort of conflicts with my plans to return to work tomorrow.

Ruth's Christmas List

1. An Amazon Kindle. Yes, I realize I'm a single mother. Yes, I realize that I don't have time to read for fun. But the anytime Wikipedia access alone makes it worth every penny.

2. A Maid. Right now our laundry schedule is emergency only. I can't tell you when I last vacuumed.

3. An Inmate Visit Care Kit, including hand sanitizer, Vic's Vapo Rub (to put in my nose to mask the jail smell), and a 50-pac of cheap Bic pens that can be thrown away after my client with the staph infection uses it to sign papers.

4. A Bottle of Jack Daniels. For old time's sake.

5. A Decision From ABC Not to Cancel Eli Stone and Pushing Daisies After All.

6. A Note From Sallie Mae Saying "Surprise, Someone Paid Off Your Student Loans!"


The Christmas Dismissal

This little poem was inspired when my co-worker explained to me about The Christmas Dismissal. It's really meant for that case that scheduled to pick a jury right after the holiday that the defense stands a good chance of winning, but I thought it would much more fun if it went like this...

'Twas two days before Christmas, and all set to plead
Was a baby attorney and her client with weed.
The judge sat at his bench and called out the cases
Looks of worry and fear on all the defendants' faces.
The DAs were swamped, but try as they may
They couldn't see how to get done by Christmas day.
Too many cases to wrap up, too many witnesses to find
The baby PD saw they were in quite a bind.
Her client was poor, as they always were
And this one in particular was depending on her.
He had no record; it was just a bit of pot
If not for those traffic warrants, he'd have never been caught.
PTD was expensive, probation too long
Jail was a place where he didn't belong.
"What about a dismissal," he asked his PD
"I can ask," she said, "but it's not very likely."
She thought for a minute then came up with a plan
Something where her client wouldn't answer to the man.
She approached the DA, smiling quite brightly
(But behind her back, her fingers were crossed quite tightly).
"Have a heart," said the PD, "after all, it is Christmas.
I'd like to tell you about this case I'd like you to dismiss."
The DA eyed her warily, he'd heard it all before
And he found most sob stories to be more of a snore.
But he heard what she had to say, and then he nodded
As if her story had left his brain somewhat prodded.
If he let some cases go, his docket would clear
He might actually wrap up some cases before the end of the year.
Then he grabbed up his paper and with a swish of his pen
The Motion to Dismiss was signed... but then
He wrote out another, and yet another still
And one more, and two more, it was such a thrill.
The other attorneys, to the DA they came
When he was done, he called the defendants by name:
"Now Ascher, and Nancy, Gonzales and Switzen,
"Come on Diaz and Baker, now Johnson and Williams.
Your charges are dropped, your cases dismissed
I've done it all in the spirit of Christmas."
The defendants were joyous, the attorneys amazed
The Judge, though he agreed, seemed a little dazed.
He signed all the motions, the attorneys all cheered
And the DA that day was more than a little revered.
As the defendants all left, the DA said with a whistle,
"Merry Christmas to all... enjoy your Christmas Dismissal!"

I'm Thankful For


A supportive work environment.

Reasonable assistant district attorneys.

Appreciative clients.

Having a house to live in that isn't owned by my parents.

Kids who, for all their faults (and trust me, they've got plenty), are actually still pretty loveable.

The fact that I live in El Paso, so that instead of having to cook Thanksgiving dinner myself I can just drive up the street to my mom's.

...I'll probably have to do the dishes in return, though.

Six months and counting, y'all

So, I reached my six monthaversary at work yesterday. This joyous day is supposed to be marked by a meeting with one of the higher-ups and the removal of my probationary status. It is not supposed to be marked as being the busiest day of my (still very short) legal career. I've had days when I've had more things scheduled than I did yesterday, but yesterday everything was URGENT.

I walked into my office that morning and already had a client waiting for me. I didn't have time to do more than toss my purse on the chair, grab her file, before I HAD to get up to court with her to take care of something urgent. No sooner did I get back to my office after putting out that fire that I was called back up to court on a new appointment. I got back from the new appointment to have voicemails from not one, but two panicking clients. One of them was facing an (you guessed it) urgent problem and so I began my running around to fix it. In the middle of that, I was called to another court for another new appointment. After dealing with that I had to draft a motion and get it filed before the clerk's office closed. By the time all of that was done, it was time to go home.

I came in this morning to find out that I have a client in the hospital, that my urgent motion wasn't necessary after all, and that apparently the world won't be ending today (although you wouldn't have guessed it to talk to my clients yesterday). Of course, I could only find all this out after a second day of non-stop running around. I usually pride myself on my organization at work, but right now my office is. in. shambles. My desk is currently a file folder orgy. I have a To-Close stack, a To-File stack, a To-Update stack, an I-Don't-Know-What-Exactly-Is-Going-On stack, and about six court dockets to wade through to make sure the court isn't expecting me to show up to a setting I haven't written down yet.

And normally Friday would be the day to fix all of that, straighten up the desk and files, and get ready for the coming week. But because that probationary status is ending, I have to meet with the higher ups, and also take Damnation to the dentist to cap his darned tooth, and make time to partake in yummy office Thanksgiving lunch (you know where my priorities are there).

So when I was asked on Tuesday (the day before my probation ended) how I was liking my job and whether it was stressful, and I answered, "Oh, it's great, and it hasn't really been stressful so far," I should have found some wood to knock on, for real. O_O

(On the plus side, I've held down a real attorney job for six months, and not once have I woke up dreading having to go into work. I think that's a decent six months. On the down side, we don't get a pay raise at the six month mark, which would have really been awesomesauce.)

Some things I'll never understand

I'll never understand the need to print out every email. Or any email, for that matter, unless it includes something that needs printing (say driving directions, a map, documentation for a case, a recipe, etc.). I mean, isn't the point of email really the "e" part?

But some of my coworkers seem to print EVERYTHING. I go to the printer to pick up something to put in one of my case files and there is page after page of email, and I'm not talking an email from the ADA updating about the status of the drug labs. I'm talking forwards. Complete with page after page of the following:


Followed by a lame joke about old women, lawyers, or horses.

Why? Why are we printing these out? Are we accidentally clicking the print button instead of the save button? This, btw, is not me bitching. My colleagues are fabulous and I still count myself lucky to be working with such great people.

But it never fails to make my mind boggle a little when I see random emails printed and then promptly dumped into the recycle tray. I mean, really, what's the point? And more importantly, why does it drive me so batty?

I do hope I'm not becoming prematurely cranky and anal retentive. I thought I had another ten years before I started insisting on everything being done a certain way and getting annoyed when it didn't go down like that. Yikes.

So you failed the bar exam... now what?

Thanks to the reader who reminded me that results are coming out this week. I'd meant to do a post on the matter, but seeing as I've successfully repressed all memories having to do with the bar exam except the one having to do with November 1, 2007, the date slipped my mind. But instead of a post that attempts to lift your spirits on the matter (because let's face it, when you're awaiting exam results there is no lifting your spirits and reminders that statistically you're not likely to fail don't. help. at. all.), I'm going to frankly address the other side of it.

What do you do if you fail?

Now, I can't commiserate personally on the matter. But I didn't pass by much so my fears about failing were at least credible. I wasn't one of those assholes who goes around trolling for sympathy by whining that I'd fail and then pass with flying colors. No. My score was low enough that it's plausible that a few lucky guesses and a handful of keywords on the essay when I didn't know what I was talking about may have made the difference. So when I cringed at people who reminded me of the statistics or told me they were sure I'd pass because I was so smart, I wasn't feigning modesty. And due to my own weird mash of faith in a higher power, a belief in what's meant to be is meant to be, and fear of jinxing things, I absolutely refused to answer this question for myself until it needed answering. As the days ticked down, though, the question nagged at the back of my mind and were accompanied by visions of various and increasingly unlikely scenarios. In the end, it was a bridge I didn't have to cross, but I'm going to try to dig through those repressed memories and see if I can help you cross it, should the need arise.

So... what do you do if you fail?

1. Cry. No, really. Go ahead. It's okay. You probably need it. Let the disappointment and frustration and self doubt wash over you and just cry it out. Cry for a few days if you need to. In fact, for the first week, go ahead and cry every time you have to tell someone that you failed. And yeah, telling people that you failed will be humiliating and depressing. But it won't kill you.

2. Figure out why you didn't pass. Be honest with yourself. Did you totally freak out and stare blankly at the MBE instead of, you know, filling in bubbles? Did you go get hammered the night before? Or every night leading up to the exam? Did you only attend a third of the Bar/Bri lectures? Did you just never get the feel for the stupid fill-in-the-blank procedure questions? Was it a combination of more than one? Whatever the reason(s), figure them out, and figure out whether they could be addressed if you decide to take it again.

3. Understand that failing the bar does not mean you're not smart. One of my biggest pet peeves was when people insisted I'd pass because I was "so smart." But smart people fail the bar exam too. And if you click that link, you'll see that even famous smart people can fail the bar exam.

4. Once you've done 1-3, pick yourself back up and make a decision: are you going to take it again in February or not? This will depend a lot on the answers you come up with in Step 2. For example, if your dog died the day before the exam and you couldn't read the exam questions through your tears, that may not be an issue come February when you've had some time to move on from your loss. On the other hand, if you hate the law, hate the study of it, hated Bar/Bri, and therefore had a hard time putting in more than two hours a week of preparation, that might still present a problem in another few months. If you think that whatever kept you from passing in July poses a serious threat of doing it again, then do some soul searching and figure out whether being a lawyer in Texas is really what's right for you.

And if you do decide to take it again, there's no shame in that either. I took the bar exam at the same time as a bunch of other El Pasoans. We'd gone to various law schools, including UT, Yale, Wisconsin, Indiana, and others. More than one of us did not pass. One of those guys took it again in February, passed, and started working in the same courthouse as I did during the same week that I started. His life wasn't over. I see him a lot and he's doing just fine.

So end of the world? No, but I'm pretty sure it'll feel that way at first. Which is why Step 1 is crying. But when your tears run out, figure out what you want to do from there and just do it. And if someone tries to make you feel bad about not passing, shove your bar review books up their ass. But not if you've decided to retake it, because then you'd have shitty bar review materials, and shitty bar review materials won't help matters at all.


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