…beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too… — Birdie Calvert, quoting her Mama, in Hope Floats
I’m living one of those beginnings right now. In late May, I started a new gig as Staff Attorney/IT Project Manager for Equal Justice Wyoming. EJW is a tiny judicial branch entity where we build resources for pro se (self-represented) litigants and pro bono attorneys across the state of Wyoming. I’m learning all sorts of techy stuff, building on my basic HTML/CSS, social media, and project management skills. As I told Father Rob back in July, I haven’t had this steep of a learning curve since my first semester of law school. I am less terrified this time, but there are moments when I wonder how much I am disappointing my boss…
So, yes, after nine years in higher education, I’ve jumped into practicing again. I spent the summer studying for the bar exam (while working mostly full-time), marveling at the things remembered and forgotten. How much simpler the bar exam is when you’re not studying anything state-specific! And it was fun, in its own way. Laughing at the bar prep lecturers when they’d say “You probably didn’t get to this in your <insert contracts, property, constitutional law, torts, criminal law, civil procedure, etc.> course, because we covered it. But more on that in my love letter to my law school post that I’ve already begun to compose once I know my bar exam results.
In the meantime, I’m learning all sorts of nuances about the Access to Justice efforts nationally. It is interesting to be part of the judicial branch in addressing these efforts, as our role is certainly different than a direct services provider. Learning the regional attitudinal differences, and seeing the generational shift. Developing better relationships with the bar and law school leadership, making that bridge to pro bono easier to navigate. Trying to leverage all sorts of technology innovations to better train pro bono attorneys, legal services advocates, and create resources for self-represented litigants. Every day, I learn something new, and every day I am humbled by how much more there is to do.
I’m also reconnecting on a spiritual level to my personal and professional identity as a lawyer daily in a panoply of satisfying, humbling ways. In the efforts to make sure our republic and its remedies are available to all, there are many justice gaps. I’m blessed to be using my skills, education, and passion in service of not only others, but also my profession. My values line up to this work, making me a proud public interest attorney. My, what a path so filled with hope.