05 March 2015

2011 law grad running for judge in Lehigh Valley

That is some ego, right there (also, one of so many, many reasons why judges should not be elected):
A 28-year-old Lower Saucon Township lawyer will challenge incumbent David Tidd for his position as district judge.

[ ... ]

[Amanda] Kurecian graduated from Bethlehem Catholic High School, Lehigh University and Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, according to her release. She now works as a divorce attorney at her own practice in Allentown, according to her firm's website. The Republican said she plans to cross-file for the race.

[Incumbent Judge David] Tidd, a bankruptcy court attorney, was first elected district judge in 2009. He plans to seek a second term.
The incumbent has been on the bench for about 6 years, which is longer than Kurecian has been practicing law. And Kurecian hasn't been at it even that long. The disciplinary board's website is down, so I can't check a primary source; but good old Avvo indicates she got her Pennsylvania license in 2011. That squares with her age of 28 and her Facebook birthday in May, 1986: on a traditional track she would have finished undergrad at 21 (2007) and law school at 24 (2011).

Her website is vague on her biographical details. It's not inaccurate or deceptive or even necessarily incomplete. But it leaves out details. It doesn't state when she finished law school. It doesn't state that she ever had a clerkship or worked with a firm with any prestige. Instead, it says that she "[worked] for other Lehigh Valley law firms for a number of years" until she hung her own shingle in 2013. So . . .  she picked up work here and there for two years (two being "a number") before scraping together enough cash to open up shop in some class B office space in Allentown.

Don't get me wrong. This is fine and it's not hugely different from my own experience. But does her four-year career track qualify her to be a judge?

Not sure if this candidacy is primarily an indicator of the need for merit selection in Pennsylvania, or an indicator of the glut in the market for lawyers. (Insert whynotboth.jpg here.) She never would have made it past a real screening committee if Pennsylvania had a real, merit-based process for putting qualified people on the bench. And there's an actual, real chance she'll be seated if she simply gets a good position on the ballot. With four years' experience out from a school that did not have a stellar first-time pass rate on the bar exam in 2011 (PDF).

But then, in 2011, Pennsylvania added 1,684 newly qualified lawyers to its already over-populated bar. If Kurecian draws a lucky ballot position, she could be getting herself a steadier paycheck than quite a few others in her cohort. Good for her.


Anonymous said...

The only qualification for this position is a high school degree. Some of the other candidates running are not even lawyers.

Glomarization said...

God bless Lower Saucon Township and Hellertown.