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I Am The Law

I Am The Law is a show about law jobs. We profile recent and seasoned law school graduates in different jobs to help listeners learn about the legal profession.
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I Am The Law
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Jun 6, 2016

When most people are injured in car wrecks or at work, they can't afford to pay a lawyer an hourly fee out of pocket to win their case against a large corporation or their insurance company. That's why attorneys for the plaintiffs in these lawsuits use a contingency fee, which pays the lawyer about a third of the total settlement or verdict -- but only if the plaintiff wins. That amount covers the work done by the lawyers, and compensates them for the risk of no payout.

In this episode, Dan Minc, a 1977 graduate of Seton Hall School of Law, discusses how he managed to rise up to his firm's managing partner after starting there as a first-year lawyer. He also talks about how he builds his book of business and what he assesses when determining whether to take a client. After all, he's only paid if his client wins.

This episode is hosted by Derek Tokaz, an academic writing teacher at American University. It is sponsored by ShouldIBeALawyer.com and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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May 23, 2016

The right to counsel for criminal charges is essential to our system of justice. The federal and state governments must provide you a lawyer if you can't afford one. As such, underfunded public defender offices raise serious constitutional -- not to mention moral -- questions.

In this episode, Candace Hom, a 2001 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, explains her role in the criminal justice system. She also talks about how she builds trust between her and clients, the various legal job roles within the federal public defender office, and the challenges of dealing with prosecutors -- even the good ones.

This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt a law professor at The Ohio State University. It is sponsored by ShouldIBeALawyer.com and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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May 16, 2016

After graduating from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2010, Melina LaMorticella began her career at a local immigration boutique. Several years later she joined Tonkon Torp, a mid-size firm in Portland, OR. Business immigration law, however, is Melina's third career. In the 15 years before starting law school, she worked in publishing and as a paralegal.

In this episode, Melina explains how the U.S. considers immigration applications from professional workers. She also talks about the charged political atmosphere she operates in, as well as what her typical day looks like.

This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt a law professor at The Ohio State University. It is sponsored by ShouldIBeALawyer.com and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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May 8, 2016

Kathryn Cockrill is a 2009 graduate of Touro Law School. Despite going to law school in the Northeast, she moved south to Charleston following law school. While she started her career at a small firm, she recently went out on her own to reap the rewards of building a business in estate planning and probate.

In this episode, Kathryn explains the ins and outs of probate, for both the living and the deceased. She also talks about how she avoids bill collection pitfalls, why she plans to hire help once her firm is on more stable financial footing, and why her practice keeps her interested and invested.

This episode is hosted by Kyle McEntee, LST's executive director. It is sponsored by ShouldIBeALawyer.com and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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Apr 12, 2016

This episode is brought to you by BarBri Law Preview. They're giving away a $10,000 scholarship for a 1L this fall. If you want to apply, go to LawGiveAway.com.

In this episode, Kyle McEntee (LST's executive director) and Derek Tokaz (one of IATL's hosts) discuss three episodes from the archives. They reflect on what they found more interesting and important, emphasizing the value in researching legal careers early and often.

The three episodes are:

Apr 3, 2016

There's an old saying: When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on you side, pound the table. But if you're an appellate lawyer? All you have is the law because the record (facts) is set at the trial level.

Virginia Whitner Hoptman is a 1981 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. Immediately following law school, she had back-to-back appellate clerkships. The first was with the Third Circuit and the second was with the U.S. Supreme Court. She changed course several times throughout her career, but has settled back where she started with a highly-specialized appellate practice.

In this episode, Virginia explains the appeals process for winners and losers at the trial level. She also talks to us about elitism in the world of appeals, how difficult it is to become a full-time appellate lawyer, and what makes appellate lawyers fundamentally different than trial lawyers.

This episode is hosted by Kyle McEntee, LST's executive director. It is sponsored by ShouldIBeALawyer.com and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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Mar 20, 2016

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

When you are a solo practitioner, you are a small business owner who happens to provide legal services. Many new lawyers fail to fully appreciate this right away, aggravating the already tall challenge of learning to practice law on your own. 

Matt Swain is a 2009 graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Right after law school, he started his own criminal defense practice in a college town 20 miles outside of Oklahoma City. In this episode, Matt talks to us about the importance of understanding your business inside and out. He describes some of the techniques he uses that ultimately make him more efficient and more likely to notice opportunities to help his clients move forward with their lives.

This episode is hosted by Kimber Russell. It is sponsored by Barbri, ShouldIBeALawyer.com, and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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Mar 1, 2016

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

Many types of educational institutions exist in the United States. Schools can be public or private, and serve different age ranges and missions. Regardless, schools are highly regulated at the state and federal level and need lawyers to function.

Seamus Boyce is a 2006 graduate of the University of New Hampshire School of Law and an education attorney at a 38-person firm with offices throughout Indiana. In this episode, he tells us about routine work advising clients with one-off questions, as well as more complex work involving student services, discrimination, and legislation. He also talks to us about his ascent to partner and the choices his firms make in pursuit of client satisfaction.

This episode is hosted by Aaron Taylor, a law professor at St. Louis University. It is sponsored by Barbri, ShouldIBeALawyer.com, and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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Feb 22, 2016

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, through a system of rules, regulations, and incentives, seeks to create strong, sustainable, and inclusive communities in recognition of every citizen's right to affordable housing. Naturally, such a system requires lawyers to dot the i's, cross the t's, and keep the system moving and improving.

Kevin Krainz is a 2013 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and HUD attorney in the Seattle regional office. In this episode, he tells us about his roles at HUD and how it differs from other types of public interest work related to affordable housing.

This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt, a law professor at The Ohio State University. It is sponsored by Barbri, ShouldIBeALawyer.com, and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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Feb 15, 2016

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

When someone is jailed for a crime, the punishment often extends beyond the sentence because formerly incarcerated people face structural barriers in their transition to freedom. In particular, limited employment prospects too often lead to a cycle of crime that's difficult to escape. The City of Los Angeles, under the leadership of Mayor Eric Garcetti, established the Office of Reentry in response to this problem. Through programming, policy development, and outreach the office seeks to not only help the formerly incarcerated rejoin the public, but also to alter conditions that lead to jailing in the first place.

Kimberley Baker Guillemet, a 2005 graduate of the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, helped Mayor Garcetti open the office in the fall of 2015. In this episode, she talks about how her background as a lawyer prepared her to tackle this job and how the intersection of law and policy can make a difference in millions of people's lives.

This episode is hosted by Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency. It is sponsored by Barbri and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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Feb 7, 2016

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

If you hurt someone, a court may require you to pay their medical expenses and for their pain and suffering. Workers' compensation insurance changes this process for employers and employees. An employee loses their right to sue their employer for negligence in exchange for an insurance plan that pays for the employee's medical expenses and wage replacement when they're hurt on the job. Workers' compensation attorneys help employees navigate the administrative process and fight insurance companies over the insurance payouts.

In this episode, Royce Bicklein, a 1998 graduate of St. Mary University's School of Law, discusses his firm's practice and what's involved in proving where an injury occurred and what's to blame for the extent of an injury. Unlike almost every other state, Texas employers choose to opt in to the workers' compensation process. As such, Royce's firm handles workers' compensation and traditional personal injury. Who helps a client  depends on whether the client's employer opted in to the system or not.

This episode is hosted by Derek Tokaz, an academic writing teacher at American University. It is sponsored by Barbri and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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Dec 14, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

In this episode, Andy Park, a 2014 graduate of the Temple University Beasley School of Law, discusses his work as a junior associate for a 23-attorney business law firm in Philadelphia.

Due to the firm's size and staffing model, Andy has amassed substantive and diverse experience in just over a year of practice. He tells us about his involvement in negotiating and originating loans, litigating and settling loan defaults, and selling commercial real estate acquired from a trial verdict or settlement. While he's still new to practice, he sees how observing issues in litigation can positively affect his work reviewing his clients deals.

This episode is hosted by Kimber Russell, senior discovery consultant at BlueStar Case Solutions. It is sponsored by Barbri and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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Nov 23, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

In this episode, Jessica Morgan, a 2012 graduate of the University of Colorado Law School, discusses her areas of responsibility as Vice President of Legal for Boulder Brands, a public company that owns a variety of food manufacturers.

Jessica oversees a team of regulatory experts, manages outside counsel, manages the companies intellectual property portfolio, negotiates contracts, and continues to automate as many legal processes as she can to save and make her company money.

This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt, a law professor at The Ohio State University. It is sponsored by Barbri and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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Nov 9, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

Life at a large New York City law firm is all about tradeoffs. On the one hand, junior associates receive large salaries, good training, and interesting exit opportunities. On the other, the "life" part of work-life balance can sometimes be difficult to manage.

In this episode, Joan Kerecz, a 2013 graduate of Duke University School of Law, discusses the various roles she played in public finance transactions. While few large firms have public finance practices, her large firm afforded her the chance to help public entities raise money to accomplish important projects, from building roads and bridges to expanding hospitals and schools.

Joan talks to us about the on-campus interview climate at her law school. She also tells us why, after just two years, she left a firm she really liked to do general finance deals at another large New York City corporate firm.

This episode is hosted by Kyle McEntee, LST's executive director. It is sponsored by Barbri and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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Oct 26, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

Settle your IRS debts for pennies on the dollar! You can see these commercials on TV all the time. Turns out it's a real thing. Settlements aren't always that generous, but hardship programs and a little negotiation help many people reduce their obligations and unfounded fears that an IRS SWAT team will break down their door and escort them to jail.

As a tax attorney for low-income individuals at a pro bono legal services clinic, Alexis Farmer -- a 2011 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law -- frequently finds herself talking to the IRS on behalf of clients. Frequently her clients did not pay their income tax bill. Other times someone stole their identity and filed a fraudulent return in their name. Either way, connecting to her clients on a deeper level fosters trust and better outcomes.

This episode is hosted by Derek Tokaz, an academic writing teacher at American University. It is sponsored by Barbri and Top-Law-Schools.com.

Episode Links

Oct 19, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

Justin Bloom, a 1996 graduate of Tulane University School of Law, went to law school to right environmental wrongs via the law. While his first job involved defending environmental takings cases for the county government, his career has taken a winding path that has not always involved what he envisioned.

In this episode, Justin talks about his range of experiences. At one stop, he did tort litigation and immigration. At another, he quit because his boss asked him to coach clients to lie. He also worked directly for a model environmental advocacy organization that utilized citizen action to help government agencies remedy legal violations of the Clean Water Act.

Today Justin runs a nonprofit that uses a variety of strategies to protect Southwest Florida coastal areas. As with most startup nonprofits, funding has proven to be an enormous challenge. While he and other volunteers work to make the organization financially stable, he's practicing law on the side to ensure that he is too. 

This episode is hosted by Kimber Russell, an account executive for Planet Depos, an international court reporting firm. It is sponsored by Barbri and Top-Law-Schools.com.

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Oct 13, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

Employment disputes are wrought with emotions and interesting facts. They pit people against their bosses when, for example, the employee feels they have been discriminated against at work. These parties then resolve their disputes through state agencies, arbitrations, trials, and settlement negotiations.

Matt Parker, a 2009 graduate of Boston College Law School, represents management in  these disputes. While he rarely finds himself in court, he often participates in adversarial proceedings like arbitration and administration hearings. In this episode, we'll hear about how he prepares for proceedings. We'll also learn about the finer details of employment litigation, such as burden shifting, different fee models, and venue shopping.

This episode is hosted by Aaron Taylor, a law professor at St. Louis University. It is sponsored by Barbri and Top-Law-Schools.com.

Episode Links

Oct 5, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

In the United States federal courts, there are too many cases and too few judges. But the situation would be much worse if it were not for the court staff, which includes attorneys that serve as law clerks for the court or individual judges. 

Vail Gardner, a 1997 graduate of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, served the Middle District of North Carolina for six years as a law clerk. In this episode, she describes the various types of federal law clerks, including each position's pros and cons.

Vail was a pro se clerk, which means she worked directly for the district court as opposed to an individual judge. Her work focused exclusively on disposing of social security disability appeals from the Social Security Administration. We'll hear about her role in drafting the court's opinions, as well as her current challenge: reentering law practice after taking time off for her family.

This episode is hosted by Kimber Russell, an account executive for Planet Depos. It is sponsored by Barbri and Top-Law-Schools.com.

Episode Links

Aug 17, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

You owe a lot of money. You can barely keep the lights on at home. You don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. Luckily, there may be a fresh start brought to you by state and federal bankruptcy laws.

Cristina Perez Hesano, a 2007 graduate of Arizona State University, helps individuals struggling with debt to file for bankruptcy. She focuses mainly on Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, and in this episode she takes us through a Chapter 7 from prep to discharge.

We'll also hear about why she left her first bankruptcy firm job to go out on her own, as well as how she came to eventually merge that bankruptcy practice with the general practice firm down the hall.

This episode is hosted by Derek Tokaz, a writing instructor at American University. It is sponsored by Barbri Law Preview and Top-Law-Schools.com.

Episode Links

Aug 3, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

How do you plan for your death? While state statutes set many default rules for how things play out after death, many people want to exert more control over the process. As such, the planning process for those who can afford it involves a number of different advisors, from insurance agents and financial planners to lawyers.

In this episode, Deacon Haymond, a 2004 graduate of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, discusses his small and growing law firm that specializes in trusts and estates. Deacon started his boutique after leaving a large firm, which he joined when it swallowed the small firm he started at in Salt Lake City.

Deacon talks us through his fees, how he finds clients, and what happened when he's too nice to his clients. While advances in legal services technology pose challenges to his practice long term, he's emphatic that so far they're helping him.

This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt a law professor at The Ohio State University. It is sponsored by Barbri Law Preview and Top-Law-Schools.com.

Episode Links

Jul 27, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

When is enough...enough?

Jaye Lindsay decided he'd had enough just 3.5 years after graduating from Southern Illinois University School of Law. His first job out of law school wasn't glamorous, but the steady pay and hands-on litigation experience made up for a lack of health insurance and low hourly wages. But over time, he wanted more work-life balance and a better standard of living for his wife and new kids.

Jaye tried a new firm in rural Illinois. It collapsed after a month. He tried going solo back in Chicago. It only allowed him to barely get by. He signed on with another firm at an hourly rate while maintaining his solo practice. But he wasn't crazy about the lack of benefits or the type of work, which wasn't even consistent. Finding it impossible to manage his average-size debt load, Jaye decided to move with his family to Florida and become a high school special education teacher.

This non-traditional episode is about more than Jaye's decision to become a teacher and practice law on the side. It's also a window into the economics of small law firms, the trade-offs that clients face when they cannot afford a lawyer, and how people juggle and evaluate life priorities.

This episode is hosted by Kimber Russell, an account executive for Planet Depos, an international court reporting firm. It is sponsored by Barbri Law Preview and Top-Law-Schools.com.

Jul 19, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

Smaller law practices are often organized around just a few practice areas -- or even just one. Sometimes, however, lawyers organize their firms around the types of clients they seek. These niche firms end up doing many types of work for many similar clients.

Ryan Morrison, a 2013 graduate of New York Law School, created a firm centered on helping video game developers. As such, the work he does for his clients varies based on whatever they need -- usually intellectual property and contracts -- and he outsources whatever he can't do.

In this episode, Ryan tells us how he managed to build a rare practice from a pro bono matter. He also tells us about his biggest challenges, including educating developers that they need a lawyer in the first place. It turns out that, due to who can and does make games today, a lot of people find themselves in hot water for what amounts to ignorance of the law.

This episode is hosted by Derek Tokaz, an academic writing teacher at American University. It is sponsored by Barbri Law Preview and Top-Law-Schools.com.

Episode Links

Jul 13, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

The Supreme Court's decision to extend the right to marry to same-sex couples advanced civil rights last month, but also lawyers' bottom lines. As the LGBTQ community acquires new rights and responsibilities, lawyers have the opportunity for new revenue streams as they engage the civil justice system on behalf of clients who previously did not have equitable access.

In this episode, we hear from Meaghan Hearne, a graduate of Syracuse University College of Law. She's involved in a variety of general practice areas, from civil litigation and criminal defense to divorces and child custody. But much of her work engages LGBTQ clients and issues. Earlier in her career Meaghan protected same-sex, unmarried couples who nevertheless wanted the protections marriage afforded opposite-sex couples. She will likely keep doing volumes of work for the LGBTQ community. Currently, she's working on a civil litigation case that's moving the needle on who's protected from employment discrimination.

This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt, a law professor at Ohio State University. It is sponsored by Barbri Law Preview and Top-Law-Schools.com.

Episode Links

Jul 6, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

Each of the five U.S. military branches has a large legal staff that handles civil litigation, criminal prosecution and defense, servicemen and servicewomen education about rights and responsibilities, and more. With worldwide jurisdiction, the military justice system operates alongside our civilian system and is run by the Judge Advocate General's Corp. -- JAG for short.

In this episode, we hear from an Air Force JAG officer. Captain Megan Mallone is a 2008 graduate of the University of Toledo College of Law and joined the military right after law school. She's not involved in combat, but she does provide legal counsel of all kinds to warfighters. Every Air Force JAG starts as a prosecutor, enforcing military justice for the U.S. government. But after that? Your future is at the mercy of your military commanders.

Megan's original commitment was 4 years, but like many JAG officers, she re-enlisted and continued her varied experience in new places. She deployed to Greece and Qatar while stationed in England, where she supported her military installations to meet their missions.

This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt, a law professor at Ohio State University. It is sponsored by Barbri Law Preview and Top-Law-Schools.com.

Episode Links

Jun 29, 2015

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corp.

Time is money. Few know that better than project managers -- a generic job title that could reflect anything from where to place a cellphone tower to how to stimulate economic development in parts of a city most hurt by unemployment.

In this episode, we hear from a project manager who specializes in the latter, although she did the former before attending law school at St. Louis University. Laura Hughes graduated in 2014 and went to work immediately for a public-private partnership, the Gateway EB-5 Investment Center. EB-5 is a United States visa program that entitles foreigners to obtain a permanent visa in exchange for an investment in certain economic development projects.

Operating out of the World Trade Center in St. Louis, she plays matchmaker for foreign investors and local real estate developers. Laura helps developers cast their projects in such a way that they not only qualify for the EB-5 program, but actually attract investors. From due diligence to navigating regulations, she uses her pre-law and legal experience to help St. Louis prosper.

This episode is hosted by Kimber Russell, an account executive at Planet Depos, an international court reporting firm. It is sponsored by Barbri Law Preview and Top-Law-Schools.com.

Episode Links

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