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Sarah J.M. Williams

Sarah J.M. Williams

Sarah J.M. Williams has not set their biography yet

Posted by on in Legal Blog

Hello all!

 

WOW! So many things going on since last month! I will share just a few bits and pieces, focusing mostly on the topic of Uncertainty.

First off: in the field of law, of course, all is Uncertain. Lately there have been a few developments that are poised to push the law in new directions, yet still uncertain.

 

There is talk of immigration reform, and while this is not my primary area of practice, immigration has intimate ties to family law. Often the good family law practitioner must know a smattering of family law in order that she not advise her client to do something that will adversely affect a client's immigration status, or that of a relative, down the line. Here's hoping that a reasonable, cohesive result enables us to regulate incoming people while showing pragmatic compassion to those already here.

 

Another uncertainty in family law is the Prop 8 case pending before the Supreme Court. If you recall, Prop 8 was the November 2008 ballot measure where Californians chose to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It's been appealed all the way up to that highest court, and The Nine are expected to rule on Hollingsworth v. Perry in late June. Because of the status of this case, it is notoriously difficult to give advice to same-sex couples in California, on a whole array of issues from marriage, divorce, adoption, and many others. Sometimes, the best we can say is, we'll see!

 

In my own personal life, there is some uncertainty too. I'm still looking for a place where I can hang my hat, and, more importantly, put my teapot. I was explaining to Austin the difficulties that come with being (not unemployed, as he wisely characterized it, but) underemployed. Namely:

    1. Not having a place to keep your stuff, call your own, put a little paperweight. The less bad sister of homelessness; I'll call it "workplacelessness."
    2. Not knowing where you'll be in the next week, month, year…I can so definitely handle sacrifice, patiently waiting, being on a budget…but the thing that kills me is the uncertainty. Not knowing if it will be today or tomorrow. Not being able to make long-term plans. Oh, and it kills me, too, to not be able to put it all on the calendar 6 months in advance, ha ha. I and my Google calendar are such BFFs. We're probably a little co-dependent…but is okay ;-)
    3. The desire to contribute to my family. Granted, Austin works which is a HUGE blessing, but I was really looking forward to making a significant contribution to our finances, and also maybe taking some of the pressure off of him to win the bread.

 

So that's what's brewing at williamsllp.com. I hope to have good news to report next time!

Posted by on in Legal Blog

Hello, and welcome to the Williams LLP law blog!

Since this is the first post, I'll just introduce myself and talk a little about what you'll be able to find here in the weeks and months to come.

The goal for this space is not only to share legal issues and comment on law news, but also to give a window into the life of a lawyer at the beginning of her career.

I'll share things that I learn, thoughts I have, and link to interesting law things. 

I'm Sarah, and last year I passed the California bar exam on the first try. What a relief! 

Since then I have been doing a number of things, including volunteering at Neighborhood Legal Services. They have a clinic at the Pomona Courthouse that helps self-represented litigants with their cases. There, we deal with family law and unlawful detainers (evictions).

I've been learning a lot there. One important thing I am getting better at is focusing the litigant's attention so that we can finish what they came for and get them out the door. The goal is twofold: first, there's a long line for our services, and if they don't finish in one session, they usually have to come back another morning, very early! 

Second, because of the long line, we want to get through as many matters as we can. Sometimes we're lucky and have a lot of volunteers who can work with the people. But, sometimes we have to turn people away, tell them to come back another day, and that never feels good.

So, I have to balance my desire to listen, be patient, explain things, show empathy, give information, be thorough and make sure I don't miss anything, against the time factor. It's situations like this that give one skills which you just can't learn in law school.

I was having breakfast with a colleague yesterday. We were talking about the tradeoffs of what I do, which is not representation, and what she does, which is pro bono representation. On my side, I'm able to help a lot of different people every day, whereas my friend may deal with just six or seven clients a week. On her side, she is able to give advice and see the matter through to the end. At the clinic, I'm not allowed to give advice, and I only see one brief chunk of the case. There's very rarely any opportunity to see what the final result is. 

I'm working for another attorney, too, but I'll save that for another day. For now I'd just like to say, thanks for reading, and check back soon for more updates and interesting law news. Cheers!