As I approached the 1-year anniversary of my initial foray into the practice of law, it was becoming increasingly clear to me that I needed a change of venue. It wasn’t really a reflection on my boss. While I had hoped to receive more from him in the way of guidance and inspiration, we got along well and I respected his abilities. I was also quite grateful to him for the opportunity with which he had provided me.
It really boiled down to the fact that I wanted to be in Charlottesville. They call it “The Hook” for a reason.
My bride didn’t need much convincing. She was wrapping up her second year of a judicial clerkship and was ambivalent about practicing law, so we weren’t tied to North Carolina. I did want to continue practicing, however, so I had two hurdles to clear in order to make the Charlottesville move a reality – pass the Virginia bar exam, and find a job.
There are many ways to spend three months of one’s life that are more enjoyable than studying for the bar exam, but if you want to be a lawyer, there’s just no way around it. The experience is certainly not something that you want to undergo more than once if you can help it. However, I had several years left to practice in North Carolina before I would be eligible for admission to the Virginia bar by reciprocity, so I needed to take the test.
As is turned out, I actually found Virginia’s exam to be less of an ordeal than North Carolina’s. I don’t think the Virginia exam was any easier – actually, it was probably more difficult, especially for someone like me coming in from out of state. Virginia jurisprudence tends to keep one foot firmly planted in the 18th century, and if you didn’t go to law school in the Old Dominion, it’s quite a chore to learn the arcane terminology and procedure. Even so, the experience of having passed one state’s exam and practiced law for a year gave me a level of confidence that I didn’t have when I was taking the North Carolina exam. That, and the fact that I was studying on my own and without the distractions and temptations offered by my law school classmates, pulled me through and a few months later I had another fancy piece of parchment to put on my wall.
Making the move to Charlottesville was a real leap of faith, because I gave my notice in North Carolina before I had lined up a job in Virginia. Fifteen years, four kids and a mortgage later, this seems like a terribly irresponsible if not downright foolish thing to have done. However, it worked out. Perhaps there’s a lesson there.
Previous: Part I
Next: Part III