Ok, it may seem strange that I am headed the wrong direction… but my move to Los Angeles is actually part of my journey back to Scotland.
I considered very carefully just going back to somewhere in the central belt and getting back into the runners pool at the Beeb, but that would all but preclude the possibility of ever becoming a lawyer and I am not really prepared to do that. Plus, I don’t think I can afford, in the short term, to live in Scotland doing that sort of work.
For those of you who have not already heard the story, in order to become a solicitor in Scotland, where I attended law school, one must complete a two year training contract. And in order to do that, one must convince a law firm to take one on as a trainee.
To make a long story short, after three years, an LLM as a stalling tactic, about 200 rejection letters and about 20 interviews during which I repeatedly heard the phrase ‘why don’t you go to New York and make more money’, I was informed by the Law Society of Scotland that my post grad diploma (necessary for the training process) had expired and I would have to redo that year of education if I ever found a training contract.
Shortly before that I started having success with my writing and moved into filmmaking. So I just gave up. Fast forward, I found out I was Italian by birth and started working as a runner at BBC Scotland and life was good until my Italian passport did not come in on time, the Beeb had to let me go when my permission to work on my US passport ran out, I bounced back and forth between Texas and Scotland, and ran out of money…. So I slinked home to live near my mom in Austin, Texas. Closed the Scottish company, and opened a Texas one…
Then I just worked on the craft, all the while, hating Texas (Texas for the most part returned the favour) and trying to get somewhere else. I tried desperately to move to New York. I love New York because while Californians and Texans stab you in the back, New Yorkers stab you in the front. If they don’t like you, they tell you and you can all get on with it. You got to love that.
So I got attached to a, now defunct, New York feature film as a writer… which oddly ended me up at a film festival networking in Hollywood… and much to my surprise I resonated with the place… Yeah I don’t understand it either, other than to say that Hollywood/Los Angeles is full of an odd mix of people from all over so while this is not my permanent home, I can live there temporarily to achieve a goal.
Rewind to Edinburgh in September 2008, when I still thought the passport would come in and I would stay, for some reason that I really don’t remember, I registered with the State Bar of California. This is the first step to becoming a lawyer in California. I think I must have been attempting to do what I am now planning… To become a Scottish solicitor using a legal loophole…
I know right, the poetry of using a legal loophole to become a lawyer is almost worth it just to say that you have. You see if I qualify in any US jurisdiction, England will let me take and exam to re qualify as an English solicitor because American law is essentially English law. Then, because I have already passed my Scottish exams, I am almost certain that means I would at the same time be qualified as a Scottish solicitor, because it is just a matter of taking those very Scottish exams in order for an English solicitor to qualify in Scotland.
England has changed its rules now that you have to practice for two years in your US jurisdiction before you can re qualify in England, but it has been almost ten years since I got my LLB so what is a few more years… and I should make pretty good money in the meantime. Better than a trainee in Scotland anyway.
So here I go stepping off 1,500 miles and two time zones in the wrong direction. Why California? Only two states in the US are enlightened enough to allow someone with a degree from outside the US to take their Bar exams. California and New York. And as I said before, it was an attempt to move to New York as a filmmaker that ended me up in California, and I had inexplicably already started the process back in 2008 when I did not even know I was to return to the US. So California has to be the place. Not to mention, I can barely afford to live in Los Angeles… Manhattan won’t be possible. And for my emotional wellbeing, I have to live in a city, it is the closest I can get to the European lifestyle I got used to.
I should take the exam in July and have solid plans to. I have just sent off my moral character determination application which should come back clear by October. They I just have to practice two years in Los Angeles and off I go back to the UK… I will only be about 42 or 43 at that point. There is probably no chance that I will do anything other than international entertainment law.
Life is what happens while you are making other plans. While I was planning to be a conveyancing solicitor in the Scottish Borders, in a frantic attempt to achieve that goal, I picked up a year of US law, a summer of Mexican Law, a Masters in Commercial International Law, an extra passport, and experience in the entertainment industry. If my American accent was enough to make them tell me to go to New York, all this extra baggage will ensure they don’t even answer my phone calls in any quiet corner of Scotland…. so there goes that dream…
I can only hope that flying back and forth between Edinburgh, London, and Los Angeles will be fun and exciting because that is probably what I will be doing from around 2014 until I retire…
The world has never been kind enough to me to just leave me alone… I don’t think it is going to start doing that anytime soon… Look out world, here I come!