Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Career as a Lawyer

One of the reasons why I decided to recommence blogging was a need I felt to be more open to others (and by extension, myself) about aspects of my life right now. Ever since I came out, there have been walls and dividers in my life, shutting off the view from various persons. Of course, living in the closet for decades had taught me the importance of walls. But, gradually over the course of the last two years, out of a desire to be released from the power of fear, I have been removing walls and dividers.

[Note: This post ended up going in an entirely different direction than I had anticipated. It also became much longer than anticipated. Thus, I decided to split it into two posts, which will probably end up being three ... but who's counting? Meanwhile, the practice of writing and ruminating is healthy for me.]

One of the biggest challenges with which I have been dealing over the past two years is the loss of my job as a corporate/securities attorney in late May 2011. Being a lawyer had defined who I was for most of my adult life. When I was in college, I planned to go to law school, but then got diverted onto a different path when I went to work for our family business. Then, a few years later, life events propelled me path onto a path to law school.

I finally took the LSAT in late 1983. My plan was to enroll after I completed my LDS mission, I having joined the Mormon Church by that point. When I got back from France, I applied to and was accepted by several schools. Which one I chose would determine my future; I chose BYU. I also chose to get married, which occurred in the summer of 1986. Two months later, I was to start classes.

But another diversion occurred: we decided for various reasons (which seemed perfectly logical and "inspired" at the time, but which fundamentally altered the course of my life) to move to Vancouver, where my former wife was from and had lived for most of her life. I enrolled a year later in the Faculty of Law of the University of British Columbia.  

Three years later, in the spring of 1990, I graduated and began my year as an "articling student" at one of the premier business law firms in Vancouver. "Articling" is based on the British system and is roughly equivalent to internship in medicine. After one year of being paid less than my secretary and "learning the ropes" and passing the bar exam, I was formally admitted into the Law Society of British Columbia and continued as an associate at the same law firm, practicing securities and corporate law.

The Hong Kong Bank Building in downtown Vancouver where I worked for five years.

I hadn't planned to go into securities law. It just happened. I was never the high-power high finance corporate law guy. I just wasn't that into it. But I won the securities prize in my third year of law school and happened to start working at my new firm for one of Canada's premier securities lawyers, and the rest is history. With each passing year, my area of expertise became more specialized, moving me further away from a general practice.

In 1996, we moved from Vancouver to Utah. I knew I couldn't practice law here at that time, but I was ready for a break. By late 2000, however, the situation regarding the State Bar's treatment of Canadian lawyers had changed. If I went back to law school for a year and took some prescribed courses, I could sit for the bar exam and be admitted to the Utah Bar. This is what I did (2001-2002) during which time, I worked at Parsons Behle & Latimer, a large law firm here in Salt Lake, practicing securities and corporate law. I took the bar exam in July of 2002, was admitted to the bar three months later, and for the next 10 years I worked at that same firm - until May 2011.

To be continued ...

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