Seeing that Mexican mother’s day just passed (what I celebrate) and many more celebrate this Sunday, I thought it would be great to share some of my mom’s favorite dichos, osea, sayings that helped me become a lawyer—even if I didn’t know it at the time and even if I’d never in a million years tell her this (haha she’s reading this right now, I’m sure 🙂 ).
One. No se dice que, se dice mande. Etched into my brain from infancy is the need to be polite. And in the real legal world, politeness goes a long way—especially when most other attorneys’ default is to rage and scream. I have won over more police, opposing counsel, and government officials by being polite and starting the conversation with civility than I ever have when I’ve let my annoyances and anger show.
Two. Hechos, no dichos. Actions not words! This usually was in relation to me promising to do my chores more consistently, but still this reminded me that it’s not enough to say I’m going to do something—I have to do it. I couldn’t just say I was going to law school—I had to plan for it. I made five year plans, made action steps, read books ( I lived in the pre-internet world, guys) to figure out what to do. Action leads to results.
Three. Mejor sola que mal acompañada. Better to be alone than with bad company. I wasn’t really rowdy in high school so this wasn’t a big deal about having bad friends, but it’s something I took to heart. And for all you pre-law students it’s doubly important because there’s a little thing called Character and Fitness that you have to pass to earn your license. Messing around with friends that lead to bad situations (i.e. charges because someone gets a DUI or is found holding a joint) may not end your prospective career, but it can add another barrier. Make smart choices in who you friend.
Four. Andale, por pendeja. OK I need to clarify my mother has NEVER called me names. She doesn’t do insults like this and she’s probably about to text me right now for implying that she’d call me this. For the record this has never happened! But I really like this saying–it always makes me laugh when I see it– and I know in her heart of hearts there are times she likely thought it. How did this saying help in my profession? Dumb mistakes I made—in school or at work, if I really get down to the root cause, there was probably a way I could have avoided it if I was being smarter.
Five. El perezoso trabajo dos veces. My absolute fave (prob because she said it a lot to me)—the lazy man works twice as hard. Isn’t there some beautiful truth to that? That if you do things the right way, the first time, it saves you from time wasted and frustration from having to correct mistakes from cutting corners. This motivates me when I want to just call it a day on whatever I’m working on; or a paper I was writing; or final exams. It would be so much easier to just google the black letter law rather than learning how to analyze a case. But eventually, you have to learn how to analyze—you must if you want to succeed as an attorney. So do things the right way the first time, even if it looks harder.
Bonus: por que yo soy la madre. Because I’m your mother. This saying taught me that sometimes laws are unfair, arbitrary, wrong, and make no sense (love you mami!) but that’s life. So you take a deep breath and figure out, is there a way to work around this so that I get what I want? I’ve had much more success in this as an attorney than I ever did when trying to negotiate with my mom. Fact: my biggest win with her was pushing back my curfew from 10 to 10:30 when I was a flipping senior in high school. #mexicanmomprobs
Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who take on that role. And especially to those who are about to start their bar exam studies. <3