In the approximately six weeks since I started working things have moved at hyper-speed because…
I literally have not had any downtime where I wasn’t just too exhausted to think anymore. I’ve fallen right back into the groove of handling all the crazy legal issues that stem from open record requests. Generally, people are surprised about just how many different areas of the law are captured by requests for information submitted to governmental bodies.
For example, since coming back to the UT family I’ve already written a slew (Legal term meaning: a truck-load) of legal briefs on all kinds of issues to include privacy, attorney/client communications, compliance investigations, donor information, intellectual property etc. As many of these provisions are already familiar to me, I’ve already got a comfort level assessing these issues. It is such a great feeling to know that you KNOW something, for a change!
What I love and hate about open records is that people can submit open record requests about anything under the sun. In fact, this is what makes this area of the law both interesting and extremely challenging. So, if I’m writing a legal brief asserting that requested information should not be released, I better understand the nature of the information and how the law acts to protect it from disclosure. I have to quickly (there are pretty short time frames under the law) respond to the request and if I plan to brief it, I have to simultaneously get some basis of knowledge so that I can make a cogent argument. The idea is always to write that brief as if I am an expert on the subject at issue, and for the span of the 5-7 pages it takes for me to make my case, I am. Or, at least, I try to be.
I’ve discovered that working on the front lines of the open record requests that come into the campus, the flagship campus I might add, is quite different from quietly doing the legal briefing at UT System in the office of General Counsel. When I worked at System, we’d get maybe 5 requests a month whereas the campus gets 20+ per month. People are constantly asking for information and just keeping all the deadlines straight is insane!
Presently, while the two System attorneys that typically do open records are out on maternity leave, I am also coordinating the System Open Record docket with three other attorneys. So, I have MORE than enough work on my plate from both the campus and the System offices.
Even with the crush of work (BTW, I never retired my law school rolling bag…I got so comfortable dragging it behind me for four years that I continue to do so every day!) lots of fun stuff has gone on as well.
Football season started and so I’m all about Vista Ridge High School Ranger Band in Cedar Park, TX. (Shameless commercial here: Our band is in the running for a grant from Chase Bank and TODAY at 10:59 pm CST is the last day to vote. So, if I have not already hit you up for a vote, please see the link HERE. We plan to use the money to paint and update the inside of the band trailer so it’s not so hard for the kids to load their instruments. Please vote and share the link. Thanks!)
Every Friday night I am with my band kiddos. I’ve been chaperoning on the busses, loading and unloading percussion equipment and helping move the same equipment onto the field for the halftime shows. I’m also the Executive Board Secretary and on the Marching Festival committee. It is Vista Ridge Band all the time, every day. And it’s only September. Wait until we add marching competitions EVERY Saturday beginning Sept. 29!! It’s so life consuming, but so very much fun as well. When football/marching season is over it’s like someone took the air out of the balloon. B-O-R-I-N-G
Since coming to work for the University of Texas, I also got the opportunity to attend a UT football game, which I haven’t done in years. That was so great! My boys loved it! I also took them to the Alumni Center so they could see and feel what it was like to “belong.” I don’t know, that’s really important to me: that they never feel like higher education and the people that move in those circles are untouchable or unreachable. Because clearly, that’s not true; I’m one of those people.
I hope that by my example they will grow up knowing that college (and any additional education they want) is accessible to them. I always felt that way, but in retrospect, I don’t know from where that came. Nobody in my family before me ever went to college or to professional school; nobody ever told me about the educational opportunities that were out there. Still, I don’t recall a time when the idea of going to college, in particular, The University of Texas at Austin, was NOT the plan. I want that same thing for my boys; whether it’s innately something inside of them, like it was for me, or whether they will credit me with their aspirations. I don’t care; I just want it all for them. So each and every time I can bring them to this University or take them to TexWes events, you can bet your last dollar I will.
Needless to say, we had a great time at the UT game and it was also my first payday as a J.D. so we went all out with food and new t-shirts and UT baseball hats. I also bought myself the coolest gift ever: Cowboy boots!!
What?! I do live in Texas and work at the University of Texas, what else would I wear on casual Fridays during football season??
Also, for the record, I haven’t been totally slacking on my blogging. Two new entries are posted on my TexWes Alumni Blog and can be found HERE.
Until next time! Hook ‘em Horns!!!