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Getting the Ball Rolling

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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!

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Guest Friday, 14 December 2018