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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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Now displaying: 2015
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Jun 21, 2015

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

Where did you say you went to school? In a state where 75% of active lawyers went to one school, where you attended law school matters a great deal. While South Dakota is an extreme, it's just one example of how your law school choice can pay off or hamper you.

In this episode, we interview insurance defense litigator and University of South Dakota School of Law alumna Meghann Joyce. While she's hired and paid for by insurance companies, her clients are the insured defending, among other claims, professional liability and employment suits. A lawyer's duty of loyalty runs to the client, but business realities produce very real ethical dilemmas for Meghann and her co-workers.

Despite being a litigator, she's almost never in the court room -- a frustration common to civil litigators. Instead her work can be categorized as largely pre-trial practice. She's often steeped in research and brief writing. Her job responsibilities and expectations have evolved since she started, but the unpredictability of her days continues.

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.

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Jun 8, 2015

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

Don't make a federal case of it! Or do. That's a choice left to attorneys for the United States Government.

In this episode, Assistant U.S. Attorney and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law alumnus Mike Hunter details his role in the criminal justice system. From 4th Amendment advice for federal agents making a bust to deciding which cases to take, when to seek indictments, and who to make plea agreements with, Mike tells us how he makes choices in pursuit of justice.

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.

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Jun 1, 2015

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

At a large law firm, the hours, pay, exit opportunities, and desire to leave are among the tradeoffs associates continuously negotiate -- if you can get the job in the first place. In this episode, Holly Carnell, a 2009 graduate of Loyola University Chicago School of Law, describes her challenge of getting a biglaw job from a non-elite law school.

Holly discusses her corporate healthcare practice in the Chicago office of McGuireWoods. Like associates at many large firms, she's seen her responsibilities evolve in her six years in practice. Holly tells how she learned on the job, but also how she developed one of her most important skills before ever going to law school. Her sales background helps her meet the firm's expectations that she build her brand and a book of business.

As a corporate healthcare attorney, she has a broad practice in the healthcare space. She spends a lot of time helping healthcare providers draft contracts, properly engage employees, and remain in compliance with the many applicable laws. Additionally, she does contracts and due diligence for private equity firms buying and selling healthcare companies. While the job may have been difficult to get, she's finding that excelling in the job has more to do with doing quality work, managing junior associates, and exercising good judgment than where she went to school.

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.

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May 18, 2015

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

The integrity of our criminal justice system depends on every individual receiving high-quality legal counsel -- even those who are guilty. Sometimes the attorney is hired by the defendant. Other times the attorney is appointed by the government. 

In this episode, Vermont criminal defense lawyer and Washington & Lee College of Law alumna Jessica Burke details her role in the criminal justice system. From her approach to plea bargaining to her philosophy on fee arrangements, her choices underscore the importance of letting clients make informed choices about their future. After all, it's the client's freedom on the line.

Although she held several different jobs in Virginia, Jessica moved to Vermont to be closer to family. She's about to hire the firm's third attorney, just a few years after starting a solo practice while working at a winery. Jessica tells us how she managed to grow her firm in a saturated legal market. The key for her was to expand the geography she covers, rather than the scope of practice.

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

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May 11, 2015

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

What did you just call me? Many Americans are late -- way late -- on their debt obligations. But debt does not entitle a debt collector to use racial epithets, shame consumers, or call them at certain times. In fact, these practices are illegal.

In this episode, Minnesota consumer rights lawyer and William Mitchell College of Law alumnus Pete Barry explains the federal law that drives his law practice. What does Pete do? "I sue debt collectors." He uses this phrase on his website, as well as at cocktail parties. Explaining what he does in such simple, yet clear terms helps him market to those who don't realize they've been legally harmed.

Pete has owned his own firm since he graduated law school nearly 20 years ago. He describes important criteria for taking a client, what's at the core of every lawsuit, and why we're all better off for the accountability he causes.

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.

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Mar 23, 2015

Five years ago, while still in law school at the University of Washington, Marissa Olsson interned at a small, Seattle-based maritime law firm. She earned a full-time job by making herself indispensable to the firm's three attorneys. Today, she helps fishermen, ferry workers, and others sue their employers when they've been injured at work. These maritime workers sue under the Jones Act, a federal statute that allows those injuried "in service of the vessel" to sue for negligence.

Although her confidence and skills have grown noticeably, she routinely faces opposing counsel who treat her differently because she's a woman. "It seemed to me like it was a battle that had already been won." Her new outlook followed becoming a lawyer. "I wasn't doing anything where I stepped outside of expectations for a 20-something female. But once I became a lawyer, I joined an old boy's club." Despite these frustrations, Marissa uses them as motivation to maximize client recovery and to make positive changes in the legal profession.

Marissa's maritime practice is similar to other personal injury work. She must assess the value of potential cases to decide whether to invest her time and resources because her compensation is tied to recovery. She avoids filing suit when possible, but sometimes it's an essential step to making her clients whole.

This episode is hosted by Keith Lee, an Alabama attorney and author.

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Mar 16, 2015

There are many ways lawyers protect the public from wrongdoing. The lawsuit is one tool, but professional licensing boards also play a major role. Lawyers advise these boards on the creation of professional rules of conduct, and prosecute those who violate them.

In this episode, we talk to Vanderbilt Law School alumna Johanna Barde, a lawyer for the Tennessee Department of Health. In her capacity as assistant general counsel, Johanna creates public health policy -- researching and writing rules of conduct -- and prosecutes medical professionals during administrative hearings before state health boards. Her Department is part of the vast "administrative state" in the United States that runs parallel to the civil and criminal system.

For a medical professional, her property right -- a license -- is at stake during these hearings. When the government tries to take that right away, she's afforded due process. At the hearing, just like a trial, Johanna must litigate the facts and the law to persuade the decision-maker of her case. She subpoenas and interviews witnesses, makes opening and closing statements, argues rules of evidence and procedure, and ultimately wins or loses. The work can be repetitive and depressing, Johanna admits, but her colleagues and desire to protect the public health keep her motivated.

This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt, a law professor at Ohio State University.

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Mar 9, 2015

Oops, the doctor used an infected surgical instrument and now you're sick. If the doctor won't admit to wrongdoing, how do you prove that the tool was not only infected, but caused your illness? Medical malpractice lawyers specialize in this tangle of medical responsibilities, norms, and facts.

In this episode, Louisiana lawyer and Washington University School of Law alumnus Greg Aycock tells us how he transitioned from representing defendants to representing plaintiffs. He left his insurance defense practice on a leap of faith, despite limited cash, to be his own boss at his own firm. Until he can afford to pay for help, Greg spends a lot of his time doing accounting, marketing, and many administrative tasks.

Until Greg gets his medical malpractice practice off the ground, he pays the rent with divorces and child custody work. Family law pays hourly, compared to the speculative and risky contingency fee emblematic of plaintiff work. For either practice, Greg spends considerable time explaining the legal process and law to clients, while keeping them under control so that he can present their best case possible.

This episode is hosted by Mike Spivey, a consultant for prospective and current law students.

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Mar 2, 2015

Biglaw is changing. America's largest firms are experimenting with a variety of attorney tracks with less pay, fewer hours, and different expectations. Among the pioneers is WilmerHale, one of the largest law firms in the world. As part of the firm's larger effort to reduce overhead expenses, WilmerHale DiscoverySolutions -- located in Dayton, Ohio -- provides litigation support for WilmerHale attorneys around the country.

Nat Croumer, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, is the Discovery Attorney Administrative Manager for the WilmerHale DiscoverySolutions team. He's responsible for managing the firm’s discovery attorneys. In this role, he oversees coaching and career development, hiring, personnel matters, budgeting and finance, and marketing of the group.

In this episode, we learn about the discovery process, as well as how Nat's team fits into the big picture at WilmerHale. Electronic document discovery, or e-Discovery, may not be sexy, but it is essential to modern civil litigation.

This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt, a law professor at Ohio State University.

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Feb 23, 2015

Small and mid-size nonprofits have many legal needs that would not be met without the generous donation of time and resources by lawyers around the country. To this end, the Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta (PBP-ATL) organizes local volunteer lawyers to meet the non-litigation needs of nonprofit clients. From contracts to corporate governance, PBP-ATL maximizes the impact Georgia nonprofits have on their communities. After all, organizations need legal services not just when something goes wrong, but also to prevent problems in the first place.

Rachel Spears is the executive director of PBP-ATL. Like many nonprofit leaders, she first practiced at a very large law firm. She tells us how issue spotting plays a central role in matching expert volunteers to clients. Not only does Rachel need vast legal knowledge to see what her clients don't, but she also needs to manage her board of directors and staff, develop a budget, do the books, fundraise, and more.

It turns out that focusing too much on your mission can actually impede your organizational success. Rachel can sympathize with her clients that simply want to help, but it's clear that ignoring fundraising or running afoul of state or federal regulations puts you on track to help nobody. Organizations like PBP-ATL are rare and small, but keep nonprofits within the law by leveraging the generosity of members of the legal profession.

This episode is hosted by Mike Spivey, a consultant for prospective and current law students.

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Feb 16, 2015

Deportation can rip families apart, and it's up to immigration lawyers to help individuals seek relief under the law. The job is pressure-filled and has high stakes. In this episode, immigration attorney and St. Mary's University School of Law graduate Manuel Escobar discusses his experience representing people whose livelihoods are on the line.

As Manuel tells us, an essential part of his practice is interacting with clients during "intake" sessions. Manuel spends a portion of every day interviewing clients, some of whom are petitioning for family members or are interested in learning how the law can affect them. Other clients are battling deportation and are desperate for help. "We have clients whose backs are against the wall," Manuel explains. "There is a lot at stake with immigration."

Manuel addresses some key questions pertinent to immigration law. What options are available to those seeking relief from deportation? How does an immigration attorney prepare for hearings? What challenges do immigration lawyers face, and which strategies can help mitigate stress from work? 

This week's episode is hosted by Debby Merritt, a law professor at the Ohio State University.

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