We enter the new era of the RKDeemReport. I’m calling this category/chapter The Village. My goal is take this blog a little deeper into my life, and get myself deeper into the lives of others. Everyone is someone, everyone is living a life that takes them down some interesting paths, everyone has decisions, and everyone has a story to tell. My goal is to bring out these stories & weave them into the blog. I’ll be reaching out to people around my world and we’ll get their stories…put yourself on notice, you might end up being interviewed by RKDeem.
The first person I wanted to talk to was Jaclyn’s friend Melissa. Melissa passed the bar exam and now she’s working in this country’s prestigeous legal system. She keeps her own blog, tames mechanical bulls, and once got beat up by Jaclyn. Read on and I hope you enjoy.
RKDeem: Hi Melissa, thanks for being my first interview.
Melissa: No problem. I’m hoping that by doing this interview, you’ll finally stop signing your emails “regards.”
RKDeem: I know you went to law school and you passed the Bar exam, but
can you tell me about what you do now, your responsibilities and title,
do you get to say, “I rest my case.”
Melissa: Right now I am a law clerk to a federal judge. I work behind
the scenes to help dispense justice. There is no “I rest my case”ing,
but I do a lot of important work. Most cases never go to trial because
they are either settled by the parties or a judge decides the case on
its merits before it goes to trial. This is where I come in. If a party
moves to have the judge decide the case before it goes to trial, then
I’ll look over the file and write a draft opinion, in which I decide
who should “win.” Then, the judge will look over it and make changes if
he wants, but usually he just signs my draft. My work is interesting,
but sometimes it gets tedious; I have a short attention span, so if an
opinion takes longer than a week, I get bored!
My job is a two year position, and I’ve got one year left! I am looking forward to moving on to the next step in my career…
RKDeem: Tell me about the Bar exam, where does passing the Bar exam rank on your list of great accomplishments?
Melissa: Def. top 5. The bar exam—and studying for it—is like
intellectual boot camp. The bar exam is held on the last Tuesday and
Wednesday in July, but studying for it starts the Monday after
graduation (which yes, means that I had a whopping Sunday off between
graduation and bar prep). The bar exam covers 30 subjects of
state-specific law—law that is not learned in law school. Super.
Therefore, the point of the bar prep class is to teach one all the law
one needs to know to pass the bar exam.
Every day we had lecture from 8 or 9 a.m. until noon or 1 p.m. The
lecture on any given subject could take a day or up to three days.
After lecture, I would get a quick lunch, and then study all afternoon
and into the evening. I studied in three ways: (1) by making an outline
of the subject that I had just learned; (2) by doing practice essays on
the subject that I just learned; or (3) by doing multiple choice
questions for the multistate section of the bar exam.
What is the multistate? I guess I should tell you a little about the
format of the bar exam. Day 1 is essay day, in which a bar taker completes nine essays. The subjects of those essays come from the possible
30 subjects that can be tested, so it is a crap shoot as to what
subjects will be tested. Day 2 is the “multistate” section of the bar
exam. It is a nationally administered 100 multiple choice question
exam, which tests the majority rule (read: most common) law of Torts,
Contracts, Constitutional Law, Property, Criminal Law, and Evidence. As
its name suggests, the multistate portion of the bar exam is not
The material that I had to learn for the bar exam was not difficult;
the hard part was forcing myself to work for 8+ hours a day learning
and practicing the material so that I would remember it for the exam.
My emotions were mixed that summer. On the one hand, I had a set
schedule, which was oddly reassuring. I studied all day. On Tuesdays
and Thursdays, I took a class at the gym with my friends in the
evening. On Sunday evenings, I would get together with my friends to
watch Army Wives. I’d eat hummus on a pita with red peppers for dinner
and sushi for lunch. Sometimes, I’d grab lunch or dinner out with
friends as well. I had a schedule that I knew I had to stick to, but
at the same time, my schedule was flexible enough that I could get my
highlights done in the afternoon if I wanted to—I’d just have to work extra late that day. It was sickly fun. On the other hand, I
had fear of the bar exam and the stress of knowing that my professional
future depended on my ability to pass a two-day test. That part sucked.
RKDeem: Do you ever secretly wish you went into another career path instead of law?
Melissa: Not really. I knew that I wanted to be an attorney since about
middle school. Life is short when you think about it. Sure, I’d like to
get my PhD so I can research and write about random things that
interest me, and I’d also love to become a professional equestrienne,
but I wouldn’t have time to do those things AND actually accomplish
something in those fields.
RKDeem: You’re a pretty tough cookie, I remember that you were the only
girl who managed to beat the mechanical bull at Montana West. Any tips
or advice for aspiring cow girls?
Melissa: When riding the mechanical bull, the key to success is to
remember to use the points of contact that your body makes with the
bull. The seat (butt) can be used to counteract the forward-backward
movement of the bull. The points of contact of the leg—inner thigh,
knee, and heel—can be used to counteract the lateral forces of the bull
and also provide continuous security. The hand can be used to balance
the upper body.
RKDeem: Have you ever punched someone?
Melissa: No, but your wife did try to beat me up (AND made me bleed)
once in her basement because she thought that I bowled twice, when
actually I had only bowled once. I had to wait until the physical
barrage was over, and then I rationally explained to her that I only
bowled once. She finally agreed with me. See, diplomacy can work, too.
RKDeem: What are you currently addicted to?
Melissa: Ohhh, hmmm. The Subway next to the courthouse has amazing
muffins. Peach is my favorite. They must be so unhealthy, but I can’t
help but get one every week. This week I had two, I am addicted.
RKDeem: Do you have a sports hero?
Melissa: Not really. Last night on the television show Bones (which I
am also addicted to) the protagonist, Dr. Temperance Brennan, posited
that heroes are idolized by weak people. So, I guess it’s a good thing
that I don’t have a sports hero.
RKDeem: I could be completely wrong, but I think I heard you were going
to Vegas, did you already go? What do you look forward to doing?
Melissa: I travel to Vegas in two weeks. Gosh, let’s see. I’d like to
gamble somewhere. Maybe see some of the cool casinos? I’m really just
going there to visit a friend from law school (who lives there). She
grew up in Las Vegas and also went to UNLV for college, so I’m sure
I’ll get the full Vegas experience! Have you been? Any recommendations
on fun things to do there?
RKDeem: A couple years ago, there was this casino called the Westward
Ho Hotel. It was on the “old strip”, a casino built long ago before the
Vegas strip’s hotels evolved to mimick New York or Paris. This hotel
catered to the broke, the ugly, the people who were kicked out of the
Bellagio. Anyways, this hotel had 99 cent margaritas and the largest
damn hot dog I had ever seen. It was bigger than a cheesesteak, it was
grand and spectacular, and it tasted like absolute garbage.
Unfortunately, the hotel shut down in November of 2005, that was
probably my fondest memory. Other than that, work your magic to get into
one of the bars that’s on the 60th floor of a casino. There’s only one
thing cooler than seeing Vegas all lit up at night from the 60th floor
and unfortunately, that one thing became unavailable in November of
RKDeem: If you could go back in time to relive a year in your life, when would you go?
Melissa: Ohhh tough one! Probably either Ninth Grade or my Second or Third Years in law school.
RKDeem: Are you following the politics? Politics are getting pretty
pervasive, we’re bombarded with ads, a guy went on a rant about Barack
Obama at our Fantasy Football draft, and now the Vice Presidents are
getting all kinds of attention. Would you consider yourself politically
Melissa: I follow politics because I find political strategy
interesting. I’m less interested in policy because I don’t think that I
know enough to make informed policy decisions. Each candidate has
different views on how to turn around the economy. I have no clue which
is correct, and honestly, don’t professors argue over this kind of
stuff all the time? Political strategy is quantifiable in public
opinion polls, which is why I like it.
Example: During my junior year of college, I interned in D.C. for a
think tank scholar who studied public opinion. I worked with her during
Spring 2003, which is when we went to war with Iraq. Would you believe
that about 79-80% of people supported invading Iraq without regard to
weapons of mass destruction? (Support for invading Iraq to find WMDs
was slightly higher.) Now, had President Bush just couched the invasion
in terms of liberating an oppressive regime, public support during the
war might have been higher. As we know, the public lost confidence in
President Bush when no WMDs were found because he told us that we
invaded Iraq because they had WMDs. Bush’s decision to use WMDs to rationalize the war ended up backfiring on him. This sort of analysis interests me.
I should note, however, that because of my job, I cannot support candidates, attend political rallies, or donate money, etc.
RKDeem: So you’re voting for Ron Paul?
Melissa: Like I said, I can’t comment on my political affiliation or
politics in general. I will note, however, that when I was in Montana
earlier this summer, there were Ron Paul signs EVERYWHERE. Totally
hilarious. Ron Paul might win Montana by write-in ballot!
RKDeem: I remember you saying that Global Warming will work itself out,
or something along those lines, do you wish to clarify that?
Melissa: Sure. It is beyond our comprehension, I think, to know
whether we are causing global warming. I mean, did the dinosaurs cause
the Ice Age? Who knows! We don’t even know what killed the dinosaurs,
right? Humans and the rest of the animals will adapt to global warming,
just like we’ve adapted to everything else OR we’ll die out. It’s not
that shocking, it happens like every million years or something. I
think it is obnoxious for humans to think that we have the power to
control a force greater than ourselves—like the environment of the
Earth. Sure, I support little things, like conserving energy when we
can, but I don’t see the point of freaking out and completely
overhauling the world to prevent the ocean’s temperature from warming a
degree or two.
RKDeem: A couple more questions. You’ve met Winston and we have another
baby on the way. Do you think the world’s getting worse, better, or
it’s always basically the same?
Melissa: I think the world stays the same; it is our perspective that
changes. I’m sure your perspective on the world has changed since you
were a child, but the world has mostly stayed the same. I believe this
happens on a macro-level. There will always be diseases; we “cured” all
sorts of wacky stuff, like polio, and then we got hit with HIV. They
will always be cruel dictatorships. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Hussein,
half the leaders in Africa, and now we got that crazy guy from Iran
whose name I can’t spell. At the same time, the world will always have
goodness. The Earth’s yin and yang does a pretty good job of balancing
RKDeem: What do you want for Christmas?
Melissa: I don’t know. My parents just got me a digital camera for my
birthday, which is what I had been wanting for a while. Perhaps
jewelry? My material needs are pretty satisfied right now—I can’t
RKDeem: Any advice for Winston?
Melissa: Respect women but do NOT be a momma’s boy. No one will want to marry you.
RKDeem: Any last words, a message to the readers?
Melissa: I appreciate this opportunity; it has enabled me to
procrastinate at work just long enough to prevent me from accomplishing
my goal for Thursday. That means a lot to me—the internet has been
RKDeem: Well thank you so much for being the first interviewee of the
RKDeemReport. It really is an honor to know you and I really, really
appreciate your time. Thank you.
Melissa: Thanks Rob. I’m glad Jackie married you! Now please stop having kids so we can go out drinking more often!!
Melissa and a dog named Emma
The Megadog from the Westward Ho Hotel – I ate half of mine and almost died.