Vacations, Conventions and Truncations

A sign of a good vacation is one that feels too short.  If that premise is acceptable, our Oregon vacation last week was the best vacation ever.  We went for five days, first to Portland and then out to Sunriver, where we met up with family and went to the Oregon Trial Lawyer’s Association convention.

Dillon Falls Trail, courtesy of Kate Stebbins

The Portland part of the trip was strictly recreational.  We stayed in a very chic Portland hotel, chosen by the culture conscious significant other.  There were apples on their entrance sign and the rooms were sleek and sort of mod.  It was my first experience staying at a hotel without five brothers and sisters or an entire softball team, and I must say I liked it very much.

For purposes of this blog, however, the OTLA convention was the big event.  My sister and my father both practice in Oregon, and I also have a student membership with OTLA.  It was an excellent experience.  First, there was a certain amount of culture shock.  Both law school and first job hunting in Atlanta tend to encourage a certain amount of neutrality. We become very careful.  Interview clothes are black or gray, tattoos and other less than decorous decorations are carefully concealed, hair is tamed, and strong opinions or controversial viewpoints are avoided for fear of running off a potential employer.

From this somewhat stifling environment, I went to the OTLA convention.  There I found myself in the middle of a bunch of smart, loud, entertaining and opinionated attorneys; many with their own successful businesses, and no reason to fear God or man.  It was terrifying, but I loved it.  It was inspiring to go to a CLE and have one of the panelists encourage blogging with an actual message, rather than a lot of keywords and search engine flags.  Bill Barton rattled off a long list of books I want to read and gave a somewhat scattered but very encouraging message about being yourself in the courtroom.

My favorite speaker by far was Randi McGinn.  She spoke about cross examination techniques, and not only do I have several pages of really excellent, concrete tips, I was riveted the entire time.  She walks the perfect line of being funny and smart without ever seeming nasty.  It often seems that the litigation world is somewhat male-dominated, and, societal expectations being what they are, techniques that work for men are not always as good for women.  Ms. McGinn provided a walking, talking model while she gave her talk, and she’s definitely a lady I’d like to emulate.

Stebbins Women at the OTLA convention

There was also a lot of schmoozing, which the organizers encouraged by offering prizes and swag.  I handed out my not-quite-a-lawyer card with great determination.  My confidence was mostly fake, but bolstered each time someone gave me their card back.  Having my sister, the amazing Kate Stebbins, there was really nice as well.  It’s very freeing to move through an intimidating social situation when you know someone absolutely has your back, and you have theirs.  I’ve missed it.  (My father was in attendance as well, but he has managed to achieve the sort of success mentioned earlier and spent most of his time golfing.  Something to aspire to.)

So the convention was great.  It was also located outside of Bend, Oregon, in really gorgeous country.  The significant other did a lot of impressive mountain biking, and between CLEs, I floated down the Deschutes in an inner tube and hiked in the Lava Lands.  It was altogether an excellent trip:  way too short.