Hello and welcome back to Gracie Meets…! We don’t usually meet adults who talk about being like us. Adults seem like they have everything together, but Mr. Jeff Brown shows all of us how adults really felt when they were kids and gives good insight on the world of law. Go ahead and take a listen at this amazing interview!
Cover Art: Kyleigh Kinsey. Instagram: @ato._.noodle
Gracie Solomon 0:11
Hello, and welcome back to Gracie meets. For today’s interview, I stepped back into the wide world of law to meet with a man who is just like us. He jumped from job to job not knowing what to pursue until he reached his current job as an attorney. So I’d like to welcome Mr. Jeff Brown onto the show today, tell the listeners a little bit about yourself.
Jeff Brown 0:32
When I look at myself, there’s this story and it’s called the Nine Lives of Walter Mitty. And he was this character, he would take a nap during the day. And he would daydream about these different jobs. And every time he went to sleep, he was always something else, like one time, you’d be a policeman and other time, he’d be a fighter pilot or something like that. And so he had all these different lives in his head. And that’s kind of how I am when I look back on my life. I’ve done so many different things that it almost seems impossible that I did it in one lifetime. For instance, I was attack helicopter pilot, I was a pharmaceutical sales rep. I was an aerospace medical technician in the Air Force. I’m a lawyer now, I was a prosecutor. I was a defense attorney. I worked at Universal Studios as a studio guy. And I was an actor, bartender, I even used to be a licensed minister. So I’ve done all these things in my life. So I always look at myself as being this guy, Walter Mitty because when I tell people about it, they’re like, No way is no way you could have done all those things. But I have and, and I think it’s made it for me to have a much more richer life. But I think that all came about because I grew up in South Central Los Angeles, and in the, you know, when I grew up, my teachers being black, and I was bused never had much expectation of, for me, they were just like, you know, what, you’re not going to go to college, you know, go to trade school, get a trade. And so I think what I wanted to do is to experience as much of life is possible, and not just be stuck in one thing. And I think part of that was just to prove them wrong, that I had the ability to be whatever I want it to be. And so I’ve always tried to pursue different things in my life. And so pretty much that’s me. I mean, I guess, my wife, and my daughter probably would say something different. But that’s how I look at myself.
Gracie Solomon 2:31
I like that you thought of that story. And it reminds me a lot of kids as well, because you’d never really know exactly what you want to be like, Hey, I could be this could be anything. So I like that. That is how you think of yourself. So how would you explain your job now to a teenager.
Jeff Brown 2:52
So I’m a I’m an attorney. And it’s difficult to explain my job that without explaining what an attorney really is, I think people have an idea of what attorneys from seeing TV shows, but very few, I think know, what attorneys do and what they can do. So our job would you go to law school, you get a degree. But that degree opens up so many more doors of things that you can do. So being an attorney is almost like an amoeba. Once you get that degree, you can use it to basically do anything that you want to do. So for instance, you want to do contract law, you can be a contract attorney, you want to do want to deal with families, you could do Family Law, you want to deal with injuries, you could be an injury attorney, there’s just a lot of things. And then people who have a lot of grief, they go on and they do other things like the Commissioner of basketball, Adam Silver, an attorney, a lot of your politicians, attorneys. So what I do now, I’m an attorney, but I’m actually write I write cases for judges who are hearing appeals for disability claims. So for instance, in society now, if a person works, they’re entitled to what we call title two, or title 16 benefits. So that means is if you work, you get injured, you can no longer work, you can file for disability benefits. But that’s usually determined by doctors. And if you disagree with what the doctors have determined, then you can appeal it to a judge and I write the cases for them.
Gracie Solomon 4:35
So your job is in the legal side of careers. Are there like any laws or regulations that apply to your job?
Jeff Brown 4:45
A lot and they’re in the federal rules. It’s a huge thick book and the laws that basically govern what we do, they’re called administrative law rules, which is a little bit different from like, civil law. Criminal Law. These are laws that are made by the government to regulate how we look at cases in what we can and cannot do. So, but for me, I don’t have to be in this area, I don’t have to be an expert in this type of law, I have to be expert in a certain narrow, a narrow lane. And that is only things that deal with disability. And that’s what the judge is talking about. And that’s what I write about for them.
Gracie Solomon 5:32
So why would a teenager want to think about this job for their future? Because I know we kind of talked about that in the beginning, beginning with that story, where it’s like, I can be all these things. So why do you think a teenager would want to be an attorney?
Jeff Brown 5:49
Well, if a teenager just came up on, you know, asked me, I wouldn’t steer them towards the job that I do. But I would steer them towards the legal profession. Because the legal profession can help you find yourself. For instance, when I went to law school, I was going to I was four, I went to law school, I was a pharmaceutical sales rep. For Johnson and Johnson, I was going to go to law school, and then I was going to go back and work in their legal department. I got in law school, and I got exposed to so many things that I had never knew existed. And so I changed my career path. And I went into criminal law. The reason why I say that is that, go back to the analogy of an amoeba. Once you get the law degree, you can do anything that exist in society. And you think about it. If you like theater, you can go into theater law, or contract law or entertainment law. If you like real estate, go into real estate law. If you like aircrafts, you know, you can go and work for like Boeing and stuff like that. So the law degree is basically a canvas in which you can do anything you want. And that’s what I would say to a teenager, you want to be able to have in life, the opportunity to do whatever you want. The law degree is pretty much the only degree that allows you to do and be whatever you want. And it doesn’t allow you to be stuck there doing it. So for instance, like me, I was a prosecutor for four years, got tired of that defense attorney for five years, got tired of that opened up my own practice got tired of that. Now I’m doing what I’m doing. So it’s just one of those degrees that allows you to do whatever you want to do with life.
Gracie Solomon 7:45
Yeah, I like how this is one of those jobs where it’s like, you can just kind of, if you get tired of something, then you can just move into another kind of section of this profession. And this question might seem a little difficult. But why do you think this job is perfect for an unusual teenager?
Jeff Brown 8:07
I think it goes back to being that canvas that you can pretty much broad strokes, do whatever you want. Say for instance? Well, first of all, let me just say this. I don’t think there’s anything such as an unusual teenager, I just think that they’re teenagers. We were talking about quotes, at the beat before we started this podcast, and you know this from this poem, Invictus, I am the captain of my feet, you know, and so forth like that. And I think, let’s just say quote, unquote, unusual teenager, I think of an unusual teenager, when you say that, to me, the thing that comes to my mind is a person that goes by their own rules. They’re not trying to fit into a neatly packaged, I don’t know. They’re not trying to follow what society tells them to do. They’re not to say, go to college, get married, have a family, they’re not doing that. Or they’re like, you know what, I want to paint. And that’s what I’m trying to do. I want to skateboard. That’s what I got to do. You know what, I like flowers. I just want to whatever. And I think what the law degree does, is, first of all, it gives you security in life. And then having that security, that it usually allows you to do whatever you want to do. I know it’s kind of long winded. But let me just give an example. Before I went to law school, and I worked at Universal Studios, I wanted to act and I did a lot of movies in you know, I grew up in California, so did a lot of movies. And I had the characters point my life where either I’m going to go and acting full time and pursue that or I’m going to go do something else. Well, you know what? I wasn’t comfortable with the struggles of trying to be an actor and be In unemployed and going to audition and after audition, so I decided I’m going to go to law school. Now, once I’m in law school and graduate, now I’m an attorney, what do I do in my spare time I act, I act to community theater, I act, you know, even I had a chance to active regional theater, even at the opera at the Houston opera. So I’m able to do the things that I still love, and have a job that gives me up enough security where I don’t have to be like, I can’t do this job because I have to work shift work, or the boss is not gonna let me off. So that goes back to him saying all again, is said earlier is the law degree is this broad canvas that allows you to do what you want to do in life. And you can practice law in the daytime, you can be an MMA fighter in the evening. And I think there’s no other profession that allows you to do that. Because if you’re a doctor, you’re on call, if you’re an accountant, you know, you have to work in the firm. So. So for an unusual teenager, if there is such a thing, I would say, this is a profession that is tailored for them, because they can make the practice of law, whatever they want it to be. I mean, there is really no rules. For instance, church law, I’d never heard of that. There’s a profession called church, art law, there’s just so many things, whatever your mind can imagine, there’s a place for it in the legal profession.
Gracie Solomon 11:35
Like I love the way that you described a teenager, because that’s how I think of teenagers as well is we don’t want to stay in a box, we want to go out and do our own things and explore and discover for ourselves and not have to worry about social norms and things like that. So I just liked the way that you put that. What kind of school did you have to go to for law, like being an attorney? Right?
Jeff Brown 12:08
Well, it’s standard for everyone, except for a couple of states. But you have to get a four year degree. And then after that four year degree, it’s three years of law school. And intermixed in there after undergraduate you, you have to take a L set, it’s a test. And based on those test scores, kind of determines what school you’re able to go to higher scores, better schools, so forth, but that’s pretty much it. You finish law school, you have to take this exam, it’s called the bar exam. And I don’t know of anything in life that strikes fear people that the bar exam, now might be saying that because I am a lawyer, but what the bar exam is, is you go to law school for three years, and you take all these subjects, and you’re supposed to be an expert on these subjects, you have one test, and that one test covers the breath of what you’ve learned in three years. And you it’s no notes, you have to do it all from memory. And it’s usually like for In my case, because state of Washington, it was a three day test. And you’re tested on each subject that, you know, you learned in law school. And it’s a very tough test. Because again, how do you remember three years of learning? I mean, and being an expert at it, and you know, you’re writing it down and as asking answering questions about it. So that is, that’s how you become a lawyer. But the bar exam is usually the hurdle that people have the most difficult time coming.
Gracie Solomon 13:53
Well, thank you for letting me interview you. I we had a lot of good conversation. I thought this was a really good interview. Cool. Mr. Jeff has had quite a full work life, from attack helicopter pilot to now being an attorney. For everything that he discussed about. I think the biggest takeaway is that your degree track or career track opens up not just one door, but many doors. It’s up to you to choose your path. no ordinary person could have such a vast amount of jobs in various fields, and finally settle on something as in depth as law, but then again, showing a normal teenager. Thanks for listening.
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