Ed. Note: This is the latest in a series of articles on motherhood in the legal profession, made in collaboration with our friends at MothersEsquire. Welcome Brandy Mai on our website. Click here if you would like to donate to MothersEsquire.
“You are the parent. You make the rules. “
Hahaha. Yes OK.
As a mother of four teenagers / young adults, the past 20 years have been one of navigating diverse personalities, sibling arguments, and the survival of the logistics of a larger family. I only added more chaos to my plate a few years ago when I decided to go to law school (in addition to parenting AND a career in crisis management).
What did I think of the double hockey sticks?
Despite the intense fog of war that has enveloped me in recent years of law school, COVID-19, mock trials, and external practices, three things have become crystal clear:
Advocacy is not much different from parenting. Children and opposing advisors have a lot in common. There are never any days off.
I introduced this thought to friends and fellow lawyers, and the stories and parallels did not disappoint. Thank you to everyone who answered my question. I’ve categorized and listed the answers below. Names have been removed to protect the tyrants and those who have them as lawyers or parents.
Case law and precedent
Precedent is EVERYTHING for a young child. Admit something once in each grade for someone at a similar distance. You’d better be ready to argue precedents and distinguish facts.
No doubt my children are hostile witnesses. If you have multiple children, you need to be able to find out which witnesses are credible and which are not! Once over 2 years old, tears are an admission of guilt – or an attempt to manipulate the court.
Mine just turned four. I’ve got more drama than any episode of Law & Order put together. A child yells “Objection!” with mom, and the sibling screams “Sustained!” before I even know we’re litigating.
Cross-examination and evidence
I do some of my best cross-country exercises with my kids. Never ask a child a question that you already know the answer to. They’ll blow smoke in your air [butt] every time. Talking to my 3 year old is like being a witness. When I try to get past a problem or to crush words, she says, “That’s not my question.” And she complains like a pro. Earlier this week she asked me if number three was a little or a lot. I replied, “A little.” Twelve hours later she asked for another dog – who would be our third. When I replied that three dogs were way too many, she replied, “Well, at breakfast you said three were just a little …” My son sometimes takes my logic apart quite easily and lets me prove that it is actually raining when I say he can’t go outside. Somehow my 12-year-old often quotes the rules of evidence. The lawyer in me is proud, but the mother in me is sick of it. My toddler is not in the potty yet. I asked if he was dirty. I strongly suspected he had, but he denied it. But when I checked and he didn’t, he said, “Wrongly accused!”
Opposing advisors trigger tantrums if they don’t get through. Children and OKs ALWAYS move the goalposts. After years of dealing with moody toddlers, it’s easier to deal with a rude opposing attorney than thinking, “Oh, you wanna be a brat? I have you! “They never take no for an answer. Sometimes there are things you have to indulge in for your own health. Keep logic before emotions because it doesn’t help anyone lose them. REALLY think cause and effect to the end Finish it off to avoid unexpected results. They want to do everything on their schedule (rules for toddlers are contrary to rules for lawyers). When I say no to my 10 year old son he asks me why the answer for at least three reasons Then every point is discussed. Such a lawyer kid. Children take things at face value (young children very, very literally). There is no room for nuance and ambiguity. They follow directions exactly. “But that’s not what I meant “has absolutely no meaning. No matter how smart you think you are, they will always find a way to challenge you.
This list makes it clear that, despite the chaos of the past few years, my intuitions were correct about the similarities between the courtroom and the toy room. I wonder if the attorney’s mental gymnastics would have been even more difficult if I hadn’t raised four children first, especially four children who are just like their mother. As one member of the MothersEsquire group put it best, “The fruit of my womb is a little me and questions authority – especially mine.”
With all the comments and stories, one thing was certain: We love our children and our work.
Brandy Mai is 3L at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, an ABA representative for the MHSL SBA, and a member of the Student Veteran Organization. The legal profession will be Brandy’s second career as she has worked extensively in public information, crisis communication and emergency management for two decades. Her experience includes working in the military / veteran / government, corporate, nonprofit, emergency management, homeland security and public safety sectors, including a position as senior information officer for a government emergency management agency. Brandy’s emergency manager and POST trainer certifications enable her to manage crises and train public safety professionals how to coordinate information effectively and in an accessible manner during preparation, response, recovery and mitigation efforts. Brandy’s education includes military public affairs training from Defense Information School, bachelor’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern State University, and theses in strategic communications from Purdue University. Your Youngster will complement her work on crises, disasters, and communication. Brandy’s professional achievements include receiving a National Top 40 Under 40 award in Georgia for her public relations work with nonprofits, contributing to an Emmy Award-winning project, and listing a previous employer on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Company list . Brandy is a mother of four and is a advocate for mental health, disabilities, veterans and children.