Full Time Practice

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Meet Jennifer Wilson

(Interviewed by Desiree Nordstrom, a WIL Committee member.)

Where did you go to school (undergrad and law?) Undergrad: BYU-graduated in 1983 with a BA in English; Law School: J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU-graduated in 1986.

Why did you go to law school?  My father is a lawyer, and I was always interested in what he did. I enjoyed school, and thought law school would be a great challenge. It was indeed a challenge, and also one of the best times of my life!

What type of law did you practice prior to taking a hiatus to raise your children?
I didn’t actually practice—I had my first baby during my third year of law school (I don’t really recommend that) which changed my thoughts about a  career. My husband was a year behind me at J. Reuben Clark Law School, so to get him through I worked as a law clerk at Kirton, McConkie in Salt Lake City. We moved to California, took the California Bar together, and then he went to work in a law firm and I went to work as a full time mom.

How many children do you have?  I have five children and two grandchildren (with 2 more currently on the way!).

What made you desire to return to practicing?  I had always hoped to practice, but felt pretty inundated with motherhood for many years (20+!). With my youngest child entering middle school, I suddenly had a large block of time during the day to dream about being a real lawyer. The downturn in the economy helped me to actively pursue returning to the workforce.

What type of law are you now practicing?  I work on a part time basis doing estate planning, asset protection and business law.
What have been some expected and unexpected obstacles in returning to practice?  I had a very long time without any legal thoughts running through my brain—it was difficult to reboot. At first I wasn’t at all sure where to even start. It really was a process of taking a step at a time into the dark before I figured out what I wanted to do. Luckily, I was able to find a situation that was perfect for me, both with my desire to balance work with family life, and also my areas of interest. One unexpected obstacle was that I discovered that I had gotten “mature” (old!) somewhere along the way, and that I didn’t really fit in as a late 40 something newbie. People certainly expected that I knew a lot more than I did. I was also surprised that the age of technology had left me in the dust—I completely missed the fax age while I was at home—came and went! Online legal research was something I had not been exposed to as LexisNexis and Westlaw were just becoming widely used when I left law school. I still sort of miss those dusty old case books!

What suggestions would you give in returning to practice?  I would have had a much easier transition back if I had stayed abreast of the law through my decades at home. I felt like I couldn’t do both motherhood and be a lawyer, but I certainly could have done more than I did. It wouldn’t have been such a huge learning curve when I went to work. I thought the day would never come when I wasn’t buried in children, but it did—and faster than I would ever have imagined.
What are the things you enjoy most about practicing?  I enjoy the people I meet, the chance to be part of the legal community (especially the JRCLS!!), and feeling like I’m stretching as a person and as a lawyer all the time.

Anything else you'd like to add and then share a little bit about your family/personal life.  I feel really blessed to have been able to have the education I did, and now to be able to put it to good use; for assisting others and also for the sustaining of my family. I always recommend law school to young women I meet because it has opened so many doors in my life, both when I was a stay at home mom, and now that I am working.

I am currently also co-teaching early morning seminary with my husband; I enjoy running, reading and hanging with my kids and grand-kids.  Life is busy and good!

(We want to regularly use this blog to highlight you: women of faith who have been trained in the law.  You are doing great things--in the courtroom, in your community and in your home.   Getting to know each other better will strengthen each of us individually as well as strengthen us as a whole.  If you know anyone you think we should highlight, please let us know at nanbarker@gmail.com.)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. It is so helpful and inspiring to hear about women in similar situations as my own, who have succeeded in life and law!

    I was five months pregnant when I graduated from law school (just over seven months pregnant when I took the bar) so I can definitely relate to your story! I really appreciate the advice you gave --- with my oldest getting ready to start kindergarten, I am starting to realize just how quickly the time passes!

    Thanks again for sharing.