Thursday, 7 December 2017

My Journey To The New York Bar - Being Intentional, Living on Purpose

After spending the summer gaining legal work experience in New York, I came back home to England and everything I did from that moment was focused on qualifying as a lawyer in the U.S. I started to act intentionally and with a purpose.

I started a new position at the company I worked for. The role was an advisory role, providing advice over the telephone. Up until that moment, as a person with a stammer, I had "avoided" or "limited" myself from talking to people over the phone and having lengthy conversations with people I didn't know. This was because I stammered more when speaking over the telephone and felt more comfortable speaking to people face to face.

The new job would require me to speak to between 20-40 people everyday about serious and sensitive issues and providing clear and accurate advice and information over the phone. I saw it as preparation for what I was now pursing, because as a lawyer, I would be put in situations where I would have to hold conference calls, do presentations, attend court hearings and lengthy trials and many other things. If I couldn't come out of my comfort zone and advice people over the telephone, how would I be able to deliver as a lawyer when communicating verbally in certain environments?

I learnt and developed a lot from this role. I worked there for one year before moving on to something else, and it was definitely a job that helped me to come out of my comfort zone, boosted my confidence and developed my knowledge and understanding of family law issues and the role of our local government's social services.

When I started the job, I had 5 months to go before I would commence the bar review course to prepare for the New York Bar Exam. I decided to do some independent background reading on the United States Constitution and contract law, to familiarise myself with some U.S law. I did this in between working and other commitments.

 I also decided that I would not take any holidays or trips abroad. Everything I engaged in had to solely be for my personal development and qualifying as a U.S lawyer. I could not afford to be side tracked or spend money unnecessarily because I knew the journey to the New York Bar would cost me a lot of money, effort, dedication and time.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

My Journey to the New York Bar - Redeeming The Time

Redeeming the time for me at that moment was to go to New York and do a legal internship.

Several years before, which was during my second year at university, I chose to study a  module called The Justice Process. It was focused on studying both the criminal justice system and the civil justice process in North America. We had an option to do an eight to ten week  internship in a law firm in the U.S or to write an essay about a particular topic. I chose to do an internship in New York and secured one at a Brooklyn law firm that practiced criminal and personal injury law.

From what I recall, everybody else on the course chose the southern  states like Indiana, Mississippi and Texas but I chose New York. It just appealed to me more and I remember my professor telling me that I had to find my own placement because they did not have connections with places in New York. I contacted a lot of different law offices and firms in New York to secure a placement myself.

I was preparing myself for this once in a lifetime opportunity, however about 5 weeks before I was due to go, I cancelled the whole thing. It was a personal decision I made due to a particular situation I was facing at the time. No one around me understood, especially my dad who insisted I went, "even if he had to drag me on the plane", but I was adamant I was no longer going. It was not an easy decision to make and I had to contact the law office to inform them, as well as other people who were going to assist me during my stay there.

Fast forward to that Saturday morning in September 2014 while cleaning the house,  when it came to my mind that the time had come for me to redeem the opportunity I 'gave away'. Two months later,  I went to visit relatives in Maryland for Thanksgiving and spent a few days in New York to get a "feel of the place."

Before the trip I was just thinking about  doing an internship to finally do what I always wanted to do and cross it off the 'bucket list', but God had now opened my vision to  actually qualify as a U.S lawyer and practice law internationally. I went to the United States with a purpose, and everything I did from that moment on, I did to work towards the dream that had now awakened within me.

I went back to New York at the end of May 2015 for three months and did an internship and also pro bono work, providing legal advice and assistance to low income families and residents of New York City.  During that year, the New York Bar Association had implemented a new requirement that applicants had  to fulfil 50 hours of pro bono work as part of their application for admission as an attorney.  I found out that I could use the pro bono work I was doing, as part of the 50 hours requirement for my application. Without even knowing, I was doing certain things to assist me on my journey to the New York Bar.

Monday, 27 November 2017

My Journey to the New York Bar - That pivotal moment

I'm going to take you back to 2014 which was the pivotal moment where my vision opened and my career started to steer in another direction.

During that year I was very dissatisfied with my career. I had already recovered from certain personal issues I had experienced, finally got a decent paying full time job and had a regular steady income to pay my rent, bills and daily expenses and even travel. But I felt restricted. I was dissatisfied because I knew there was more to me and for me than this. I'm not knocking the job or company I was working for at the time, but I reasoned with myself that I didn't go to university, study law and even train as a paralegal just to do admin work.

Although I was paralegaling on the side, it still wasn't enough for me. But I didn't know what to do or where to go. I knew that I didn't want to go back to law school and resume the Legal Practice Course (LPC), which is the course you take before coming a trainee solicitor in England and Wales, because the course fees were so expensive, around £10,000. I previously had to leave the LPC  half way through due to experiencing homelessness and I was not in a good way emotionally. I was 'ready' to go back and finish what I started, but at the same it was not what I wanted anymore. I was also finding it hard to get a full time job as a paralegal because whenever I had interviews I would be questioned about having a stammer and they (not me) saw it as an impediment for me to work directly with clients; even though I had previously worked in a call centre and as an advisor, and had no issues with that.

So I started paralegaling independently. I found my own clients which were charities, organisations, businesses and individuals. Still it wasn't enough for me. I remember during that year I did a lot of "soul searching". I spent a lot of time alone, figuring out who I was, what I liked, what I was good at and what I wanted.

I would spend time alone at the park, go for walks (this is where my love for nature was awakened), spend time researching online. I was really seeking what to do to. I had a mentor at the time and she is the one who helped me to develop my relationship with God and be defined in my faith because both would be crucial in establishing true happiness, being stable emotionally, spiritually, mentally, financially and in all aspects of my life really.

It was June 2014 and I had reached a point where I was ready for a change. I didn't know what exactly but I wanted a change. I remember speaking to God saying that I wanted Him to do something new in me and in my life. I wanted new things. I wasn't specific because I didn't know what to ask for but it's like I just gave everything to Him, in words and in deeds. I was always seeking what to do and one morning while I was cleaning a house (I used to do house cleaning at the weekends to make extra money), I heard the words "redeem the time because the days are evil", while listening to an audio message, which caught my attention. I even remember the room and what part I was cleaning, until this day lol.

After listening to the message I started thinking about what this meant for me and how I could do this.... It was then that an opportunity I had been given but gave up during my second year at university, came to mind....It was now time for me to redeem the time and go back and do that very thing...

Sunday, 26 November 2017

My Journey to the New York Bar - Introduction

Today, I am starting a short series sharing with you my journey to the New York Bar.

At the beginning of my bar exam preparation last year, I actually wrote a journal documenting almost everything I went through from making necessary adjustments in my life and to my schedule, battling with feelings and thoughts, experiencing set backs etc. It was quite therapeutic writing down things as they were happening or had just happened.

When people hear I sat and passed the New York Bar exam to qualify as a US lawyer they ask me why? What made me choose this path? What I tell them does not even answer the question fully because during the journey and even as I draw to the end of it, I am discovering that the whole thing is more than just qualifying and being licensed to practice law in certain jurisdictions. It's not even about me, there's a bigger picture to all this.

You know, there are things we are inspired to do but it's only when everything is materialised, that we really discover or understand the reason why we were led to do it. At times, during the process of achieving certain things, who we become as a person during the process, is more important than what we set out achieve.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Style Sunday - Black and White with patterns

This is actually a blouse I bought from a boutique in Manhattan, New York back in Winter 2014.

As the weather is warm and I decided to wear it as a blazer over a white vest.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Style Sunday: Black, Red & Polka Dots

I like simple high Street fashion.

Blazer - New Look
Blouse - H&M
Pants - Bought from TJ Maxx
Shoes - Primark

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Words of Encouragement for People Who Stammer

I've come across certain comments from young people who have a speech impediment, expressing thoughts and feelings of frustration, low self esteem and depression that prompted me to record this message this evening. 

It just shows how much investment is needed to inject positivity into our community, especially to those who feel fed up and isolated. #breakingsterotypes

Monday, 27 February 2017

Sibs Speech - The Most Challenging Letters of the Alphabet

There are certain letters of the alphabet that are a real challenge for me and which I struggle to pronounce which I share in this video. I also share  self help techniques and methods that help me to release the word and to flow better.


Thursday, 23 February 2017

Sibs Speech - Introduction to Living with a Speech Impediment Series

Hello! I'm excited to introduce a new series i'm starting which is all about life as a stammerer.

I have a speech impediment, stammer, stutter, whatever you want to call it and before it was something I was really embarrassed about and hid behind it. I would avoid speaking as much as possible because I was afraid that people would laugh at me and not understand me. I had many insecurities.

 Today, I have found freedom from all the complexes and insecurities that once paralyzed me internally and my outlook on life and on my stammer has completely changed. I still stammer, sometimes really badly but it doesn't stop me from doing what I want to do.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Waking Up Early - Running the Day

One of the things I have been doing differently since the New Year started is waking up early. I aim to wake up between 4am and 5am during the week and at the weekends between 5.30 or 6.30am.
Lately, I have been studying the good habits and traits of successful people and one of the essential habits they have is waking up early before sunrise. While the rest of the world is asleep, some of the world’s richest and most successful CEO’s and influential people are waking up between 3am and 5am to start their working day.
At first it was drag. It was so difficult. In December, I tried it a few times but I was not consistent. However, as I have goals that I want to achieve, dreams I want to realize, projects and ideas I want to develop, as well as working in an office for my employer for the first 3 days of the week, studying in between those days (usually before and after work) and studying  8-10 hours a day on Thursday Friday and Saturdays in preparation for upcoming exams,  I am trying to fit everything in without compromising my studies (which is the most important right now).  In fact, there are some things I have to postpone for now until my exams are over! But I’ve still got to have an income right? I’ve still got bills and living expenses to pay. So rather than being so overwhelmed with everything and complaining that there is not enough time, I decided to wake up early.
My working pattern is quite flexible and I can start work in the office anytime between 8.30am and 10am. At the moment I prefer to start work at either 9am or 10am. On the days I am in the office, I tend to wake up at 4am; spend 30 minutes on Bible mediation and prayer, then check emails, do follow ups for my business and other related tasks for an hour and a half. I then spend between an hour and half to two hours studying before getting ready and setting off for work. After work I spend the majority of my time studying in between preparing my dinner and before I go to sleep.  
When I am not at work,  on Thursdays to Saturdays,  I use that time to do more work on my business and projects, catch-up with people and spend between 8-10 hours studying during the day. On Sundays I do around 4 hours studying in the afternoon after church, catch up with my family and sleep really early. Last Sunday I was in bed by 7pm LOL. I was super tired!
This is just an insight into how I have adopted the habit of waking up early to have a productive day. Its early days yet as I have only been doing this since the beginning of the year but it’s been beneficial so far.
I have learned I cannot complain there is not enough time to get things done. The problem is more about being wise with our time, managing it and making necessary sacrifices to get the work done.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Style Speaks

I came across this quote a year ago and I totally agree with it. The way we dress shows our personality. We can attract people to give us attention or take us seriously (in a professional setting for example) just by our appearance.

That's why it's important to invest in this part of who we are. I'm always looking for ways to update my look. As I develop and grow as a person, so does the way I dress. For example, when I was very insecure and didn't care about myself, it showed in the way I took care of myself. But when I started to love myself and gain confidence, I started to invest in my appearance and started to become hold and creative in my style.

I like searching on Pinterest, fashion blogs and websites to get ideas. I know not everything I see is for me due to my body shape, skin tone, age, height etc.., but from looking around and trying different things, I get to see what suits me and what doesn't.

At the moment I'm following Pop Sugar's style hacking challenge and it's been very interesting. I've tried new styles and I've definitely become more creative. Each night I can spend 30-45 minutes just trying different outfits and figuring out what I'm going to wear the next day.

However, more than making an effort with my appearance and wanting to look pretty, is making sure I put double the effort into developing my inner self. Working on ensuring I'm just as 'pretty'  inside than outside. That my heart is not habouring a resentment or grudge towards anyone. Double checking I'm not putting myself down and allowing doubts, fears and complexes that try to creep to influence me in a negative way. Nor becoming proud, thinking that I am better than others or doing things to show off and do people.

 We can we wear the most stunning outfit and look our utmost best but if we have these things lingering within us and they manifest through out facial expressions, the words that come out of our mouth, our attitudes or actions, all that outward beauty will not compensate for the ugly traits inside.

That's why working on our inner beauty is paramount, in fact I believe it deserves more care and attention than the outer beauty because as we start to invest in becoming beautiful inside, it naturally shines through and is evident outside, through the way we smile, look and treat people.