Postcard From Vermont
by Chris Hardaway
When you last heard from us (recovering divorce attorney Chris Hardaway, wife Terry Parker, and Niekko the Wonder-Husky), we had just moved to Vermont, opened a bed and breakfast, and were still a bit dazed from the relocation. A year later and we’re still here!
Despite our lack of business skills, the B&B is still working and we have even had visits from a former Denver Bar staffer and a Denver attorney. We still like the B&B choice.
The busiest season turned out to be summer, which was fairly taxing. Winter and mud season in the spring were fairly light, so we had plenty of time for other things. We get to meet many new people, which allows me to tell the same jokes over and over, much to Terry’s chagrin. Terry does breakfast; I wait tables and do bathrooms. When we want time off, we hang our "Happily Filled" sign.
Buying from a distance meant that we didn’t know the fixes that our house needed: refinishing the wide pine floors; remodeling our owner’s area; new roof; new fireplace; major cleaning. We shut down in November and December to do most of the rehab including plumbing and electrical (one hair dryer plus two air conditioners on at the same time tripped breakers). I have become intimate with our breaker box, changed water filters and sharpened lawn mower blades all by myself—I feel positively pioneer-like. I’m starting to say "yup" very slowly.
On the legal side, Vermont does reciprocity with Colorado. But there’s no free admission. All applicants to the Vermont Bar have to perform the equivalent of an internship. Law school graduates have to work a six month clerkship; and out-of-state transfers work a three-month clerkship (which is actually involuntary servitude, since it is rare that you will get paid for this because they know you have to have it and you’re going to be gone in three months so why should they pay you, not that I’m bitter about that, but I digress).
I was lucky to be accepted at Vermont Legal Aid (VLA) in Rutland for my clerkship. I worked in the poverty law project (turns out "poverty" refers to the clients, not the attorneys/clerks). VLA has an interesting alternative for those who do not qualify for full services—Lawline. Lawline is a project based in Burlington and provides unbundled services for low-income clients. They provide telephone service, which includes consultation, trial prep assistance, and the drafting of pleadings. If you would like to learn more about that concept, see the Summer 2004 issue of the Vermont Bar Journal ("Access to Justice; Unbundling Legal Services," by Thomas F. Garrett).
When a part-time opening recently occurred in VLA’s Mental Health Law Project in Rutland, I applied and was just offered the job, in spite of VLA having had experience working with me for three months. I start next week and am quite excited about it. My role will be to represent clients who are being involuntarily placed in the mental health system.
I don’t know why people say there are no jobs in Vermont. Everyone here has three or four. I’m still teaching community college and next spring I’ll be teaching UCC Sales (which should be amusing to those of you who know my background) at Franklin Pierce Law School in New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, Terry has been elected to the School Board and we both attend the Select Board meetings; we work on the Community Video Project; and are working with others to start a local chamber of commerce. All of these activities, you will note, provide no income; which is consistent with my practice up to this point.
So, best wishes from Danby, Vermont. Would enjoy hearing from you. Try firstname.lastname@example.org. (Admitted in Colorado and Vermont!). Wish you were here.