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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: March, 2015
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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