Oct. 22 2019
Have you ever wondered what your friends do for work? We’re not talking about the description in their LinkedIn bio, but what they actually do in their 9-5. As part of our mission to bring you more girl boss content, we’re investigating job titles to get the low-down on exactly what they really entail. Curious to know what being an account executive even means? Wondering what a VP in finance does in the afternoon? We’re creating more transparency around different jobs, and the salaries and duties that come with them, to help you figure out what you’re interested in. Today, read how an attorney focusing on nonprofit humanitarian work spends the work day.
City: Los Angeles
Industry: Nonprofit Humanitarian Work
Job Title: Attorney
What does your job title mean?
I am an immigration attorney for a nonprofit that provides free legal services to low-income immigrant survivors of crime. We try to provide holistic services, so this means not only that I help people file immigration paperwork or represent them before immigration court, but also that I’ll accompany them to the police or FBI to make a report and also try to refer them to social services like housing or trauma therapy.
What do you do in the morning?
I wake up at 6am and only try to hit the snooze button once. Then I brush my teeth and put on my gym clothes and will head to the gym for a workout from 7-8am. I’ll shower at the gym and drive to work. My commute is about 15 minutes from there. Once I get to work I will sort through emails while having some breakfast at my desk – usually coffee I brewed at home and some oatmeal with peanut butter and fruit.
At 9am I am…
Just finishing going through my emails, voicemails, and filing away any paperwork or snail mail the paralegals and assistants have put in my box since yesterday. Usually at this point I am taking stock of my day and prepping for all my client appointments.
At 11am I am…
At this point of the day I am usually doing one of three things: 1) I am in a meeting with a client in my own office, screening them for legal remedies, or helping them write a narrative of the victimization they suffered; 2) I am out with a client at a law enforcement office helping them make a report or attending an interview; or 3) I am giving or learning from a presentation or training of some kind. I train community members and other nonprofit workers alike on how to recognize people who are suffering from domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking. Often survivors are hidden in plain sight and sometimes victims don’t recognize that they’ve been victimized, so it’s important that we all look out for each other.
What does lunch normally look like for you?
My office emphasizes self-care pretty heavily, particularly given the emotionally-taxing nature of the work we do. I usually pack my lunch from home (I like to cook and I’ll bring leftovers) and I will take a full hour to eat away from my desk and read a book. I am a voracious reader.
At 1pm I am…
Doing one of the same three things I mentioned in the morning, or doing some legal writing. I could be drafting a brief arguing why someone deserves asylum, writing a cover letter for a domestic violence-based visa application, or corresponding with law enforcement or child protective services.
At 3pm I am…
Usually finishing up my last client meeting for the day and getting a good start on making my to-do list for the following day. Immigration law – like most law – has a lot of firm deadlines with really egregious consequences for missing those cut-offs. So I always take a long, slow look at all of my clients and their cases every few days to make sure I’m not missing anything.
At 5pm I am…
On my way home or prepping for a yoga class. There’s an awesome little neighborhood yoga studio up the street from my office, and if I go for an hour class at 5pm, a lot of that notorious LA traffic has died down by the time I leave.
How does a workday end for you?
There is a trade-off in the nonprofit legal world: I only make $53k yearly (a respectable income on average, but not all that much for an attorney), but I can leave at 4:30pm if I want to and I don’t work weekends. I will stay late if I really need to, but if I use my time wisely during the day, it’s not usually necessary.
What do you do after work?
After work, like I said, I’ll do yoga. Then I’ll head home and cook dinner, tidy up my apartment. I listen to a lot of podcasts while I’m doing this. I like to have the chatter in the background. I don’t have pets or kids, so my time is my own.
What time do you go to bed?
By the time I clean up from dinner, it’s usually 7:30 or 8:00pm. I’ll use the remainder of my day before bedtime to pack up my gym back for the following morning and put my lunch and coffee together. I’m a lot more likely to get my morning going if I set myself up for success the night before. I try to be in bed reading and winding down by 9:30pm and lights out by 10:00pm.
Is there anything about your job you’d like people to know?
I understand that this is a weird time for immigration law in America, and not all readers may feel the same way about immigration policies. A lot of my clients are afraid to report violent crime because they think they’ll get in immigration trouble for talking to the police. I want people to know that bad guys don’t just target immigrants – they go after everyone. And when one subset of the people doesn’t feel safe to report crime, bad guys can go unchecked. I like to think that my work keeps us all a little safer.
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