The most important part of this week for me to share is that I'm deliriously happy. I love my class. I love my job. I love my new city. I'm not so excited about my office assignment - the commute may be prohibitive. But the office is great, the attorneys are great, I got to meet some judges and see the bowels of the courthouse and criminal justice system, I have some great people (we're a small group) assigned to my office as well.
There are already some political snafus, but overall, I'm so excited. And I am so proud of us. It's such a great group of fun, smart, dedicated new attorneys, fresh faces and boundless energy, chomping at the bit to get going. I'm so proud to be part of a great group of new attorneys in my own office - they're incredibly friendly, super nice, and even though we're all pissed about the commute, I think ultimately we're all going to love it.
The world of indigent defense is a small world, indeed. I ran into people I knew last summer, or people who know people that I know, people I may have even worke don cases with before. Most of us have friends or acquiantances in common, and it's unbelievable how small the public defender community feels.
I'm already hitting a few touchy areas about my own background. For instance, the name of my law school has others drawing inferences with which I'm not comfortable. I don't know for sure, but I think it makes some people feel uncomfortable. One of my new buddies and I got in an argument about who knows how to party. We went to law school not too far, and he said, "Don't you tell me that your law school knows how to party! I don't go up into your library and say, "Ooooh, I study soooo much!" And I was really left at a loss. People are drawing conclusions about my abilities and my personal experiences based solely on the name of my law school, and it is a sore subject for me. One of my best friends from law school comes from a similar background as I, and we've had intense conversations about how it feels, how we think other people regard us, how it changes how we regard other people. It's very upsetting to me, and I guess I can't really explain why or how. The guy with whom I had this conversation went to law school near me, and he loved that I described my law school geographically, instead of by name. I do that because so many people come from this area and went to law school in this area that I try to explain that I'm sorta new to it. However, the other girl with us said, "Why bother? You assume that I care where you went to law school. You assume it makes a difference to me. It doesn't." And I was so glad she said that. I can't stand it when people are shallow, and particularly in this job, I want people to see what drives me to do this work, and what my individual strengths and undeveloped skills are right now. One of my friends from law school, not a public defender, said to me, "You went to a great law school. Deal with it." I suppose that's true too. I went to the law school because of its prestige; its name opened doors for me that would have otherwise been unavailable; I can't now pretend like it means nothing.
About 6 times today, I grinned like a fool and squealed, "I can't believe I live here! I can't believe I'm really a public defender! I can't believe how happy I am!!" Life is good. And as my dad said, if the only thing going wrong for me is my long commute, then life is pretty good. That's the truth.
Once I get into more substantive training and start taking cases, I'm going to be a wreck - I've never actually represented someone in court before! But for now, with just HR forms and beer and getting familiar with my new digs, I'm lovin' life.