Welcome to the club

Well all that waiting was worth it. I found out on September 25 that I passed the bar exam, and I began my new job as a lawyer with the Umpqua Valley Public Defender the following Monday.

The job is really interesting. I already have two dozen clients, and am told that I’ll receive 20 to 30 additional cases per month once I’m up to speed. While the vast majority of clients end up taking some sort of plea bargain offered by the District Attorney, everyone we represent has the right to a jury trial if they chose that option, which means that I potentially could have two dozen or more trials in a month (though in practice, it will probably end up being more like six to 12 trials in a year.) My predecessor had zero trials in her 14-month tenure here, so whatever happens I’m likely to take more cases to trial in the next year than she did.

I work for a non-profit that contracts a specific number of criminal cases with the state of Oregon every two years. There’s a few other organizations, mostly private firms, that handle the extra workload, as our office is occasionally conflicted out of a particular case (for instance, if two people are accused of robbing a bank and a third is accused of being the getaway driver, our office could probably only represent one of those defendants.)

Today is the start of week 3 at the job. I’ve put my files in order and scheduled appointments with most of my clients. It’s difficult to prioritize my time so that I’m not frantic the day before a trial … it seems like the work is either super busy or nothing for a day or two, so I’ll need to learn how to balance the feast-or-famine time crunch. Oh, and on Thursday I was officially sworn in as a lawyer. I should be getting my bar number in the mail this week, which I will then put on all my legal documents and fellow lawyers will examine my number, note the ’09 at the beginning and conclude I’m a newbie. Which I am, but I plan to learn fast.

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