Hi. My name is Nan Barker. I graduated from law school 26 years ago. After graduating and passing the bar, I worked full time for a year and then part-time for 1 1/2 years. After that, I left the practice of law and never returned. I stayed home and raised our 5 children.
Many people, including family, have asked me if I felt as though I had wasted my education. I didn't feel like that, but after years and years of being asked that question, I started to doubt my original answer. Had I wasted my education? I wasn't practicing law, so I guess the answer had to be yes. Wrong.
Last Fall I was asked to address a group of law students at Arizona State University on the subject, "How Have You Used Your Legal Education While Not Practicing?" Tough assignment, right?
That tough assignment took me on an interesting journey. A phrase, I believe coined by Joseph Smith (at least used by Joseph Smith with regard to receiving relvelation), had a huge impact on me. The phrase was "the economy of God." As I pondered that phrase, it became remarkably clear to me that God does not waste anything that has been learned; whether it was knowledge obtained while taking forced piano lessons at the age of 8, calculus classes in hgh school, or skills obtained during 3 years of law school.
As I thought about the skills I had learned in law school, and discussed these things with the ASU law students, we came up with a list of skills that were law-school-learned and life- applicable. Here is a partial list: thinking logically, reading critically, writing coherently, organizing for survival, studying with purpose, recognizing there are two sides to every story, providing an advantage when entering into personal contracts, persuading effectively, acquiring the ability to think on your feet, to respond to questions, and to spot issues.
I have used all of those skills over the past years in dealing with family, friends, neighbors, and Church assignments. Turns out I didn't waste a thing. The economy of God . . . it's wonderful!
--Nan Barker, vice-chair of the international JRCLS Women in the Law Committee, has served as chair of the Phoenix WIL section and as secretary of the international JRCLS Executive Committee. She was recently awarded the Phoenix chapter's Jesse Udall Award for 2010 for outstanding community service.