Recently I was in a meeting with several executives discussing FMLA. During the discussion, I informed those in the meeting about a fairly recent court case that was similar to what we were discussing. The response I received was, “You’re not a lawyer”.
This is true, I am not a lawyer, though my mother, rest her beautiful soul, had always wanted me to be a lawyer. She would tell me that my determination, my ability to build bridges, my lack of fear to open my mouth (aka my big mouth) and my internal need to maintain judicial balance would make me a perfect candidate for the job. She even said that she’d take a second mortgage on the house to send me to law school if need be.
I never disagreed with her, in fact I wholeheartedly thought it was my destiny. Unfortunately, it was always my fear of taking tests (LSAT and the Bar Exam, for example) that stopped me.
But my interest in the law never waned. Over the years, I have voraciously consumed everything I possibly can about employment law, particularly employment law in California because it is so complex and often diametrically opposed not only to federal law, but to itself. I have read books, blogs and court cases. I am learning to speak legalese. I am passionate about learning more every day and am trying to reach the point where I can consider myself an SME (subject matter expert).
I hope that this blog is proof of not only my passion, but also of my knowledge.
Yet that one simple sentence uttered in that one specific meeting made me feel as if all I’ve worked towards didn’t count – as if I didn’t count.
I realize I am not an attorney nor have I ever claimed to be one to my employer, to my audience or to my friends. I know when I have to contact an attorney for advice, which I will always do when necessary, particularly since I find that I learn something new whenever I do.
That being said, I don’t feel that one has to be a lawyer to know the law. And a big part of my job in HR requires that I advise and assist my employer in mitigating risk with the best of my knowledge and skills no matter what management ultimately decides to do. And that’s what I have to accept here even if I feel a bit disrespected about how quickly my opinion was discounted due to my lack of a J.D.
I do have to say, however, that this incident woke up the ghost and I’m thinking about law school again. Whether it’s the loving spirit of my mother encouraging me or a bit of “nya nya” to the situation above, I don’t know (though I prefer to think it’s the former). But I do know that it’s something I need to explore.
In fact, even before the above referenced incident, I had a brief discussion with my friend, Jason Schultz, whom I consider to be a wonderful attorney and a source of excellent information. I’m hoping and planning to speak with him further about pursuing law school despite the fact that I turned 40 recently and who the hell wants to hire a brand new attorney over the age of 40 (yes, I know the ADEA is on my side there, but still…).
I know it sounds silly, but it’s just something I have to do. I may even get over my fear of exams in order to do this.
I’d really love to hear your opinions about my going to law school, if you don’t mind.