2009-07-12 - 12:05 a.m.
I do not believe in coincidence. Rather I believe the seemingly small moments when people's lives intersect with each other can often have meaning beyond the enounter, if one is open to potential and connections made.
Some months ago a woman at work approached me and asked if I would like a professional mentor. She has a friend who is an international lawyer (in our company) whom she wants to link me up with. The lady who approached me is involved in a few organizations within our company and we have worked together on volunteer projects, interacted at a diversity committe meeting and we regularly run into each other in the gym working out. She is a little older and apprechiates my potential. When she wrote down her full name I only then knew her sirname, and it was one I immediately recognized. It turned out her Father in Law was one of the most capable respected Immigration Lawyers. I had sent him a resume years ago. HE called me and said he didn't have a need for a paralegal. She confirmed he didn't use paralegals, but obsessively worked his cases himself.
Tonight I went to a party in the little town of Lincoln of all places. Pocahontas invited me to go with her. She and Katerina and Soren had received an invitation while walking in town and passing the hostess who said "Come to my party on Sat." Pocahontas does not know her well, but merely as an acqaintence. We all assumed that as it was in Lincoln we would likely know half the guests better than the hostess so decided to go.
We walked in and only saw one person we knew! We all had that feeling "Why are we here?"
But within a few moments, after eating a wonderful piece of homemade pecan pie which alone made it worth my while to be in that place at that time, I struck up a conversation with the one other person I knew ( a lovely potter), and a woman came up and joined in. She shared that she too knew no one there, but as she said "My husband and I invited ourselves. We have a mutual friend and met the host at her house and joked she should invite us to her party, so she did."
I enjoyed talking with this lovely lady for the longest time. She then said "You have to meet my husband" I then enjoyed a fabulous conversation with him. At some point he said how they were supposed to be at his best friend's home tonight but ditched that plan to come here to Lincoln. The converstaion then led to his best friend, who just HAPPENS to be the former Partner of the now deceased Immigration Lawyer, whose Daughter in Law is my friend at work, who had approached me inquiring if she could introduce me to the lady lawyer as a mentor.
WHEW ... Follow that?
The fellow at the party was talking about his best friend immigration lawyer, and I of course asked if he knew of the lawyer that years ago someone told me I should work for--- and I think he and I both were surprised at the "YES that was his partner."
I was 15 points shy of passing that BAR Exam. I was SO SURE it was my time to pass it that last attempt. It wasn't my time.
If someone saying to you "He is getting ready to retire, I am SURE you could take over his clients" isn't motivation to study ones ass off to at pass that damn hurdle of an exam, I can't think of ANYTHING THAT WOULD MOTIVATE MORE.
The thing is, the heart of the son (my friend from work's husband) just wasn't in that avocation. He did work with his Father for a while and then tried his own practice as well for a while. He just didn't have the PASSION for it. You have to LOVE this work to do it well with zeal for any period of time. You have to love it to the point of almost obsession as it will require heart and soul and strength and dedication. It gets tiresome and boring if you don't love it. You have to be prepared to lose cases, and prepared that sometimes when you win your clients will then disappear and you won't get paid. You have to be prepared for day laborers to show up in your office late on Friday afternoons to pay you in cash. You have to be prepared to reassure the secretary who is afraid of them. You have to be perpared to navigate around the emotions of the business owners and landowners and those who are hitting tough economic times and see immigrants and a problem. I think more than anything though, one has to be gentle and reassuring and above all patient. You have to reassure a lot of people, from the secretary who is nervous about the machismo flirtations of the Don Juan who comes in to pay you in cash on a Friday aftenoon, to the clients who are anxious and nervous about their visa applications that were filed eight months ago, to the clients who come down to their lawyer's office to be shocked to see their hired help there as well.
PATIENCE A LOT of Patience and Reassurance is doled out to all. That is what I see as the Number ONE unique skill that is needed to be a great immigration lawyer. Without that patience one won't get to the truth behind every facade of each immigrant's story- and I think that it is essential to be able to elicite that trust and honest communication to REALLY know one's clients and be able to then best help them. Skeletons in the closet coming out later can waste alot of time and energy that can be avoided if they are uncovvered and addressed up front. It takes trust and HOPEFUL BELIEF and FAITH for anyone to face their own demons. One has to have a desire in their heart to bring that hope filled patience and joy to others, regardless of their story. Additionally, one has to recognize connections and seek them out once the opportunities are seen.
I am dozing off here so its off to bed for me.
The other thing that happened at this party which I thought was a poignient moment is that the friend of the lawyer introduced me to someone and out of the blue got my name wrong. The funny thing about it is that he introduced me using the LAST name of my boyfriend (who is off with family in Colorado this weekend after traveling West for work last week.) Katerina and Soren were there also being introduced and we all got a big kick out of that. It made us crack up and laugh heartily. I commented "That's not my name but I think its a good sign it is my boyfriend's last name. Not that I WANT to think of marriage, nor does he at this juncture- but I take it as a good sign of a long term committed relationship." IT was just funny!