Cher Underwood Forsberg
The last month has been a whirlwind of activity — no surprise, of course, given that school work and life both ramped up at the same time — and somehow, I’m here wondering how it’s final exam time yet again. It’s been an interesting few weeks since my last blog.
I am pleased to report that L&C did very well at the ABA Negotiation competition. My partner and I had a good showing: we received a perfect score on the second round, which was exciting for us, while our classmates on the other team won the regional contest! I am very happy for them; they will go on to the national competition this February in Dallas.
Attending regionals certainly whet my appetite for more; I’m planning to try out for another negotiation competition in the spring. I have probably mentioned this before, but I’m really interested in the skills required to be a good lawyer — the more chances I get to practice techniques and skills for the real world, the better I will be able to serve my clients.
The student group I lead, Phi Delta Phi, recently concluded our first food drive. We collect a decent amount of food, and are already planning how to increase it for next year. We also inducted a new crop of members — we more than doubled our membership. I’m looking forward to working with them this spring, when we will hold our Ethics Week activities and more community service.
Exciting personal projects happened as well, both large and small. On the less expansive side, I made my first bacon-wrapped turkey for Thanksgiving (and yes, it was as delicious as it sounds). I adore cooking, and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days to do it. Every year, I challenge myself to try new takes on traditional dishes; I’m just happy my family is willing to go along for the ride.
The more ambitious project was having a fireplace installed in our house (just before our trip to Eugene for the competition). Even though it was a relatively small project on the scale of home improvement tasks, I was not mentally prepared for having a part of our house become a construction zone. We were fortunate that the crew have been quite tidy and kept the disaster area to a minimum.
Even though it’s not completed yet — we still have to have it tiled and paint the walls — it’s still so lovely to walk into our house and see the fire blazing away. Besides which, I finally have a proper place to hang our stockings. It feels overly sentimental, but it makes me happy every single day. I’m particularly grateful for that now, when all I can think about is finals (income tax, estate and gift tax and community property) and the holidays are rushing at us, full steam ahead. It’s nice to be able to take a few minutes to zone out in front of the fire and recenter myself before going back to the grind.
As one of my blog colleagues mentioned, despite the huge investment of time and energy law school requires, we all still manage to have a life outside of the classroom walls. I wanted to share some of the non-academic side of my semester.
One of the many things I love about being an Oregonian is the ability to vote by mail. You simply fill out your ballot, at your convenience, and either drop it in the mail it or drop it off at a ballot drop site. There are even 24-hour drop sites like the one pictured above, in “Portland’s Living Room,” Pioneer Square.
You’ll notice the very wet, grey atmosphere in the photo above: the autumn rains have arrived in a big way. The intensity of the weather has surprised me –I’ve already used my umbrella more times this year than I did the first three years of living here. Our kids have all got shiny new rain boots and are happily tromping through the muck. Even the oldest likes to splash, though she’d never admit it (teenagers: what can you do?). I’m less excited about it, and prefer to remember this lovely day back in September instead.
Several members of the L&C community (both faculty and staff) performed in this piece, alongside members of a professional dance troupe. It was an absolutely amazing half hour, and it was great fun to see so many people come out to support our colleagues.
ABA Negotiation Competition
After the intraschool contest I mentioned in my last post, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I earned a spot on our school’s team for the regional negotiation competition. In addition to earning an extra academic credit for our participation, being on the team also means more problems to suss out. I am certain there will be lots more negotiations in my future, so it’s a good experience to have.
We head down to Eugene in a couple of weeks to test our skills against the other folks in Region 10.
Phi Delta Phi
Last year, some of us became interested in bringing the legal ethics fraternity, Phi Delta Phi, back to the law school campus. During Spring semester, we got serious about it, and managed to get new members inducted and elections held. At that time, I was elected Magister of Deady Inn, our school’s chapter.
The mission of the group — now known as The International Legal Honor Society of Phi Delta Phi — is to promote scholarship, ethical behavior and community service among those in the legal profession. I was lucky enough to get to meet one of the founding members of our Deady Inn this year: Ms. Elaine Hall. It was fantastic. Though it sounds unbelievable to me now, when Ms. Hall was a student, ethics were not talked about in most courses — now, of course, all of our professors incorporate discussion about professional ethics into every class. I came away from that meeting deeply inspired by her wonderful career and her continuing commitment to both the school and the principles PDP espouses. I hope our revived Inn can do the original proud. We are small, but we are driven and I am confident that we will succeed.
This fall, our community service project is a campus food drive in support of The Oregon Food Bank. As we head into the holiday season, we hope to remind our classmates and ourselves to remember those folks who are not as fortunate as we.
I am happy to report that somewhere in the last few weeks, my academic mojo has returned. I am grateful, because this is a complex semester.
The more I learn about it, the more interested I am in wills & trusts/estate planning. In order to prepare for the biennial estate planning seminar that is offered in the spring, this semester I’m taking Income Tax I and Estate and Gift Tax. It’s a strange thing, to be studying two separate parts of the tax code at once — one so general, and the other so specific — especially when I have the same professor (Jack Bogdanski) for both classes. Fortunately, Professor Bogdanski is very thorough and we seem to be making our way through the code at a reasonable pace. As a bonus, I get to use the same copy of the tax code for both classes. Can’t beat that.
My other classes this term are Community Property, and ABA Negotiation. Community Property is all about how to manage the division of assets when people split up. It’s an interesting class, and our professor is quite an experienced practitioner, so has lots of stories to illustrate the concepts we are learning. I expect this class will be quite useful, because while Oregon is a separate property state, we are surrounded by community property states, and lots of people migrate between these and Oregon.
Negotiation — my first moot court class! — has been interesting thus far as well. With litigation becoming rarer and rarer these days, negotiating is a critical skill: Attorneys can make good deals are the ones who will have successful practices. I’d like to be one of those attorneys.
It’s also an enjoyable skill to develop: my partner and I were so wrapped up in our competition prep session, we had to be alerted that two hours had gone by and our study room reservation was up. I’m looking forward to this weekend’s intraschool match up.
There is still a plethora of tomatoes on the vine, their musky scent and neon yellow pollen clinging to my hands as I pick them. The weather each afternoon is still warm enough to wear shorts, and children are still running barefoot down my block. How is it possible that we have returned to school already?
Yet those same tomatoes are being used as the base for deeply flavored, hearty soups, and those same kids are wearing sweatshirts and jackets, as well as shoes, on their way to school in the mornings. Autumn is tiptoeing into our lives, gently but inexorably reminding us that it is time to let go of our languid, bright summer days and focus once again on the faster paced, softer lit days of fall.
I have found myself resisting the change, reluctant to reconnect and get back into the groove of school.
Some of that resistance had to do with the wonderful experience I had this summer. I spent five weeks at the Lewis & Clark Legal Clinic, focusing on landlord-tenant and family law cases (the clinic also handles bankruptcy and tax cases). At the clinic, you get to work on real cases under the supervision of one of the four professors. While I was there, I spent so much time at the courthouse the security staff started to recognize me. Considering the hundreds of people who go through there on a daily basis, I was very impressed.
Getting to work with actual clients on actual cases was fantastic — and it made me wish, not for the first time, that I could just spend the next two years in an apprenticeship, rather than heading back to class. While I enjoy my professors and love all the interesting things that happen on campus, the clinic experience was amazing for me because it was so practical and so real. I miss being there, and I can’t wait to do it again.
The other reason for my resistance was a less happy one, and I have struggled with what, if anything, to say about it here for a couple of weeks. In the end, I concluded that it would feel dishonest not to mention it. So here it is: a couple of weeks before classes began, one of my classmates died.
The news was a huge shock to me, and I am deeply saddened by the loss, even though we hadn’t spent much time together for a while now. But he was my friend. In my own neglectful way, I loved him. He was a big, bold personality, with a lot of warmth, and I miss him terribly.
I was fortunate to be able to take a bit of time away, afterward: we rented a house and had a lovely stay at the Oregon coast. Though the weather can be dicey at this time of year, we lucked out. It was a gorgeous few days, and we spent most of our time on the beach. Being able to just be with my family, and cherish them, and remember my wonderful friend, the surfer, in a place that was his second home, was wonderful, if bittersweet. I am grateful I had the opportunity.