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I Am The Law is Back! New Episodes Air May 22nd

May 2, 2023
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Executive producer Kyle McEntee introduces one of I Am The Law's new hosts, Katya Valasek. They preview some upcoming episodes and make a number of helpful observations about legal careers. The first new episode under LawHub airs May 22nd.

Transcript

Kyle McEntee:

I Am The Law is back.

From LawHub, this is I Am The Law, a podcast where we talk with lawyers about their jobs to shed light on how they fit into the larger legal ecosystem. In this episode, we meet a new host, Katya Valasek, and we provide a sneak peek of what's to come with the new episodes when they arrived on May 22.

This is Kyle McEntee and I've been executive producer of this podcast since 2015. I started it while running the organization, Law School Transparency, often known as LST. And I started it because I was spending a lot of time looking at job outcome data. I thought, this is really great information, but if I didn’t know what lawyers actually did and what kind of lawyer I wanted to be, I wouldn't know what to make of the information. So I started thinking what kind of qualitative info is out there?, and what is the best way to deliver it? And at the time podcasts were starting to kind of become a thing. Fast forward to last year and LST was acquired by LSAC. And I am now on the LawHub team, which is why we rebranded the podcast earlier this year. So I’m really excited to bring it back after a several year hiatus. With that we actually have a new host who is here with me today, Katya Valasek.

Katya Valasek:

Hi, Kyle, I'm happy to be here. I have a different route to where I'm standing today than you took. I also am a law school graduate. I graduated law school, took the bar and passed the bar in two states, and had the misfortune of graduating in 2008 when the job market was incredibly rough. I spent a couple years doing legal recruiting before settling in at a law school, where I worked for almost a decade in the admissions office. I traveled, I planned events, I met with prelaw advisors and prospective students, and really fulfilled the role that I wished someone had done for me when I was considering law school and weighing my options. After almost a decade in law school admissions, I stumbled across an opportunity to come to LSAC. And I joined LSAC in November of 2020. So I have been here now for about two and a half years.

Kyle McEntee:

And now you're on the LawHub team and able, I think, to really live out your dream as a podcast host.

Katya Valasek:

Well, one of my dreams. There needs to be a podcast listener anonymous group, I might be the founding member. I subscribe to more podcasts than I would ever be able to listen to in my lifetime, especially with a much shorter commute now, but I love it. I love the information they share. I love the entertainment they bring. And I am super excited to be able to dip my toes into the host side of the podcasting experience.

Kyle McEntee:

So let's talk a little bit about our show now, I Am The Law. One of the things that became really clear to me as I started to produce episodes and host episodes and do all the pre interviews with all of our guests. And that's so many lawyers in this country are small business owners, who just so happened to be in the business of providing legal services. And I think I really underestimated that both when I was applying to law school, when I was going to law school, even a few years after graduating law school and having passed the bar. I still didn't really quite get how important it was to know how to run a business, how to make sure that you're bringing in enough money to pay the people around you and all the work that goes into that.

Katya Valasek:

Well, you started your own business, which is maybe why you got there sooner than I did. But many of the people in your past episodes transitioned into running their own office, their own business, whether as a sole practitioner or eventually having associates under them. It never crossed my mind to think about skills that I would need to grow in order to be a savvy business person. So I just think that that is an incredibly insightful point that so many of your past guests have made, and I'm sure we'll continue to see in the future.

Kyle McEntee:

Are there any of these episodes where you listen to it and think, yeah, I could see myself having done that.

Katya Valasek:

I don't want to say I wanted to do the work that they do, necessarily, but there was a episode where I really was enlightened in the way in which law can take you in routes you don't sort of think about when you think about the journey of someone from law school into practice. So she was working with low-income individuals who needed tax advice. They found out that they owe taxes. And I was struck by the fact that a lot of the work that she did involved, not people who are trying to cheat on their taxes or didn't know they needed to file taxes. She talked about a number of situations where people were in trouble because of identity theft. And I can promise you as someone who is not as comfortable with numbers as you are, I certainly did not give tax law more than a millisecond of a thought when I was considering electives or career paths. So it was interesting for me to think about this area where I am interested in, right? Crime, intrigue, someone doing something wrong - and how that intersected with an area of law that I dismissed outright because I thought it was going to be too hard or not interesting to me.

Kyle McEntee:

I don't even know what to say, I love that episode. And I think she's super interesting. I think the work she does is super interesting. And that's another example of how business is required, even of lawyers at nonprofits because she talks about the need to go file for grants. So that way she can actually do the work she needs to do. And how part of what she's doing is running a business, even though it's nonprofit.

Katya Valasek:

Yeah. I will say an ongoing theme I saw in every episode is that the lines between the different practice areas, quote, unquote, practice areas are not as black and white as you think before you start law school. And I can actually take that a step further and say that you find out very quickly in law school that no lines are actually that clearly defined. The attorney we are interviewing will often refer to other practice areas that affect and influence the work they do. If you're a family lawyer, you are dealing with custody and divorce, but there's financial implications. There's inheritance issues that come into play. I wish I had had that perspective as a law student because I think if you go into law school knowing that and thinking that, it affects the way you may consider your participation or your interest in areas of law that don't seem relevant to what you want to do.

Kyle McEntee:

It's interesting because it actually goes to what makes someone a good interviewer of potential clients or current clients. You don't ask them about the elements of a tort or a crime and say, Hey, did you do this? Or that? Or did they do this or that? What you're doing is actually gathering facts so you can see how it intersects in ways that they don't understand because they don't know the law. And then it becomes really important for you to be able to identify, Okay, what areas of law are implicated? And then reflect, am I actually even the right person to do that? Or is it someone else at my firm? Or do I have to go find another attorney somewhere else to either send them to or bring them in to help you with the case or various matters?

Katya Valasek:

I'm wondering if you have an episode that you can suggest where you were surprised by the result?

Kyle McEntee:

Yeah, so actually, you have one episode that comes to mind immediately. It's episode 43, with Alisha Backus. She is a public defender in Montana. She is a victim of a heinous crime. And she defends alleged criminals who are alleged to have done the very crime that was committed against her. Listening to how she thinks about the victims and the alleged criminals, it's, I don't know, it's a very powerful episode. And we didn't go into it expecting that direction. It shows how you don't really know what people have been through, for one. But also you don't know how people are going to react to things in ways that maybe you wouldn't react to.

Katya Valasek:

I think it's such and important punctuation to a point I make a lot. Your life is going to impact the kind of attorney you are. And that is one of the most extreme sort of examples that I can think of. What you expose yourself to, what you learn about, the experiences you have, the people you interact with. All of that is going to inform you as you begin your journey into the practice of law.

Kyle McEntee:

So that actually brings me to one of the upcoming episodes. I would say if I were to be a practicing lawyer, I might want to do what this guy does or did to be transparent here. He actually fairly recently switched jobs but the interview is about another job that he used to do. In any event, Katya, do you like burritos?

Katya Valasek:

Is there anyone out there that does not like burritos?

Kyle McEntee:

The people who get bowls maybe? I don't know.

Katya Valasek:

Maybe. I mean, but my nephews like burritos and they're pretty tough customers when it comes to food choices, so I think burritos are universally loved.

Kyle McEntee:

I guess we'll hear from listeners if they disagree with. So we interviewed someone who was in house counsel for Qdoba.

Katya Valasek:

I do love Qdoba.

Kyle McEntee:

Qdoba is great. And I actually really love that the guacamole and the queso are not extra. So if you're listening Chipotle, you know, you could still sponsor the show if you want.

Katya Valasek:

In food or sponsorship messages.

Kyle McEntee:

Yeah, exactly, exactly. But no, it's it's a really interesting episode. He talks about his expertise as a franchise lawyer. And what he did at Qdoba was actually to help, for the corporation, create standards and enforce standards at the franchisees. So those are the people who own a Qdoba franchise and, you know, it looks taste feels like Qdoba but it's actually owned by some small business owner. That episode should be coming out in a few weeks, the end of May. This will be a fun summer, we're gonna have lots of episodes, you're gonna host some of them and yeah, I'm looking forward to it.

Katya Valasek:

I am too. I'm excited to be on board. I'm excited to have another way in which I can help the individuals I speak to, to help them feel fully prepared for really being thoughtful and deliberate about the choices they're making, the expectations they'll have, and, to again, help someone start more informed than I ever was when I started

Kyle McEntee:

I Am The Law is a LawHub production. Don't forget to subscribe and rate the show on your favorite podcast app.

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