Friday, October 12, 2012


I can do a lot of things and I try to be independent. But there's one thing I have to relate on others for. If there's an engagement that requires me to be up and running first thing in the morning in a place that is many hours away from where I am. Wednesday night and most of the following day I've spent in Tallahassee and not because I wanted to explore Florida's beautiful capital city I might add. All of the new attorneys are required to attend an 8-hour long workshop filled with ethics related panels and presentation, usually within their first year of practice. While they have to to continuously educate themselves by watching lectures, this was the only one that demands attendance in person. Failure to timely comply with this results in sanctions against the attorney. The class is offered in a number of often exotic and tropical locations, never in Gainesville and it's always one date, one place ever couple of weeks. You'd think that a city with a big state university and a highly ranked law school would get it once in a while, but not from what  I had seen. If I chose any later date, I'd have to decide on Southern Florida, which is even further. Miami is, I believe about eight hours of a drive away.

 Orlando and Jacksonville are the closest- also a bit of a drive and filling up quickly. By the time I was able to find a ride to one of those cities, registration was already closed  The  Bar wasn't able  to get me in that class, although they did understand my problems, so they have given me a one year extension. Still, it was a requirement I needed to complete, that was hanging over  my head like a sword.  The extension  deadline would eventually be up, and they might as well have given me twenty years to complete it, still it wouldn't make getting around Florida any easier for me. So you can imagine how relieved and incredibly grateful I was when one of my friends offered to take time off work, drive me there and back staying the night., We all practice law on the same plane, either I can make it work or I can't. I guess those are the reasons why the Bar wouldn't offer alternatives, like watching the lecture online. I rarely if ever advocate for different treatment of people with disabilities, but I never quite understood why anybody had to be there in  person in the first place, especially given the cost and logistics of being there particularly on a  weekday. All I could think of was, since ethics are very important, they really wanted  us to see it. But the truth is, sitting in that room for many hours from 8:30 am mad it very difficult to digest any information and many people struggled to stay awake. The early beginning time was not really helpful to people coming in from other places and hotels. Ideally you would break it down to a number of lecture days, but nobody would be able to stay there or be away from work for that time. I was lucky to have an excellent professional responsibility professor so I knew a lot of those rules and cases already and she made us work hard in class to be able to talk about them in some detail. But I can understand how the Bar can't really be certain what and how some of those school teach and what the attorneys know about it. The format was really hard on all of us and there were very few breaks, which meant I would be sitting in my wheelchair, in that fixed position for many hours. Understand one thing- there was nothing about those presentations that made it really necessary for us to be there. Audience participation was minimal.  Some of the segments were prerecorded anyway. You could have just as easily ask local law schools to set up live feed presentations throughout the state in a way bar review courses do if they were that concerned with people attending. A lot of the information was very Tallahassee specific, although most if not almost all in the room had no connection to the area. Yet we listen about practicing there, organizations to join there, socials I would never attend it was very strange. It was one thing that the lunch wasn't provided (although that wasn't clear from the materials)- we were not even given any kind of maps or ideas where to go. And once again people in cars drove away in search for food and I stayed behind. The odd thing is some people got in from South Florida or other States because their deadline was up. So all of us would only come  in to the city for one night, only to watch this. Finding the place, finding parking was apparently tricky on many people That's the thing about America. Everybody has a car, there's this presumption that it's so easy to get around a lot of places don't really worry about effective public transit. Having a class at 8:30 meant we'd have to stay over night. I ended up booking an extended stay studio, which was just as expensive as a hotel but apparently they only did housekeeping every seven days. Finding a two bed wheelchair accessible room proved to be really difficult in Tallahassee and I had a Priceline agent looking one up for me. And the closest he could find was  one bed with a pull out sofa. "Whatever'- I said. I just wanted it to be done.

At the convention center itself the day went on not without adventures. The wheelchair cabin was so small I could barely closed the door and I slipped on a puddle of urine that nobody chose to clean and ended up washing myself with soap and paper towels as the lectures picked up again. Not a good day. Not a fun day. Don't think I'll be going to Tallahassee again anytime soon.  But at least it's done. On our way home again, stuck in one position for few hours going numb I dozed off for a good portion of the trip. And if there ever was a thing that would make you never want to practice law again it probably would  be that class. It was dark and depressing as one of my colleges commented when we were told that if we ever do anything wrong the Bar will find us and likely we'll end up there. But content is not even the point for me, because I'll always do what the bar asks me to do if I am able. I just hope it asks me to do things I'm able to do in the future.

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