This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Getting to Now

It's been a helluva trip.

I first gave serious consideration to a legal career back in 2000. I had just gotten laid off from a job doing corporate sales, which I really enjoyed, but even at 20 years old I recognized that would not be a career with much job security. I waited tables for awhile, then realizing it wouldn't be enough to pay the bills, went to a temp agency to find work. I'd never had an office job before, but I was proficient with computers (I'd previously been a service technician at the now-defunct computer superstore) and could type very well. I asked them to place me in a law office; I wanted to see if I'd like it.

The job itself? I totally hated it. I spent two years working for an insurance defense sweatshop. The attorneys were mostly assholes, almost all white men, and I could have made more money working at McDonald's. But I was fascinated by the work. I decided I wanted to go to law school, and continued working to finish my bachelor's degree. I had a lot of setbacks finishing my degree, both personal and medical. I could only go part time for awhile because of my work schedule and a lack of money to do otherwise.

But, finally, in October 2004, I took the LSAT, with graduation set for May 2005. By then, my husband and I were living together, and he proposed the week after I took the LSAT. Later that year, I took the GRE and applied to graduate school as well. I got accepted to grad school and chose my law school accordingly. I started coursework on my masters in my last semester of undergrad in 2005, and officially entered the program in the fall. In 2006, I got married, quit my job, went on my honeymoon, and started law school. That winter, I threw away the pill, I finished 1L, and the rest starts here.

It was often hard, and there were plenty of times I just wanted to give up. But I knew that practicing law was what I wanted to do. There were lots of setbacks. I had to repeat courses in undergrad, and I took 7 years to graduate. I had let personal matters get in the way, I let medical issues get in the way. There were times in my life when I completely fell apart and had to start from the ground up. I take disappointment very badly. I tend to crumble and fall into myself, and even though I've learned to keep fighting out of necessity, it takes its toll and I get lost in my own head while throwing my own pity parties. I grew up a little, but maybe not completely.

Graduate school was a breath of fresh air, although still difficult with working full time. Once I got to law school, I thought it would all be okay, but it wasn't. I hated it. I enjoyed the law and the practice of law, but I hated law school. 1L completely consumes you. And not everyone around you is supportive and understanding of that fact. Some were even quite cruel about it. It's easy to lose yourself in the misery of it all. You find most of your friends are on antidepressants and you wonder why you aren't taking them too. But my apathy has always been the anchor that keeps me sane.

That's when we decided to throw a baby into the mix: I just didn't care enough about law school to not risk my "success." My grades were nothing impressive, if they dropped, it wouldn't matter. And it didn't matter. I graduated and I have a job (whereas friends of mine in the top 10% don't). I really cared about my legal career, so not messing that up with pregnancy was important. A very good choice; there is no way I would have kept any job with the pregnancy I had. Or the nightmare in the first month of parenthood. And besides, the only thing that makes studying for tax better, is this.

There were certainly highs and lows in law school. Highs, other than Cora, included getting best oral argument 1L year, making awesome friends, Barrister's Ball (all three years), being involved in student organizations, taking litigation skills, doing the prosecutorial internship, and getting my best grades in the two classes I loved the most (which just proves that I can do well when I actually give a shit). Lows included (other than horrific pregnancy and emergency surgeries) bad grades when I had studied really hard (didn't really care when I got bad grades and didn't study... like in corporations, oops), trying to implement positive changes with the international law program and finding no one there gave a shit, and not making the mock trial team. But it all works out in the end. They let me graduate. I got a job. I took the bar. I actually passed it.

Now what? It's a weird feeling to have actually achieved my long-term goals. Now I have to set new ones. What do I want to do with myself? I want to build my skills as a litigator. I want to network in my new community and build my reputation. I want to lose weight and get in shape, especially important since it appears I may be in my thirties now. I want to start playing the violin again. I want to read books for fun. Later, I want to have another kid. (Much later.) I want to teach undergrads in history and/or political science. I want to write a book. I want to go back to Europe. I want to actually be fluent in Spanish and Italian. Lots of things to do, I guess I should figure out where to start!

But mostly, I just want to enjoy my life. My awesome job, my limited but valuable time with my husband, time with friends and other family, and most importantly, plenty of time with Cora, my little scholar-in-training.

Pensive Bunny


Cee said...

I can relate to so much of your law school journey and your current feelings. But also there is so much about your journey that is unique to you. Congrats on getting here!

P.s. I think it is easier being a lawstudent when you finally accept having mediocre grades and generally not caring about rank, etc. The second I stopped caring, I started to like law school so much more!

Andrea said...

Great post - love your new goals. Congrats on coming this far.

(In)Sanity Gal said...

Thanks for posting this - my story is different, but I've been pretty down on law school lately and it's nice to read a retrospective from someone who's actually taken the time to sit down and figure out where they are and where they're going.

Dakota said...

This is wonderful! It is so important that we all share what the reality of law school was like for us, and our wisdom, now that we are through it!

Best of luck on getting started with the new goals!