Thursday, April 22, 2010

All good things come to an end...

and, thank the gods, so do the bad ones.

No, the blog isn't going away just yet. But I am about to finish law school. That's right, three years of belly-aching, whining, and just plain bitchin' and my reward? A little ole diploma. And if I pass the bar and patent bar, I will be an official lawyer, someone who counsels in the law. If I don't I will have a very expensive mistake on my hands.

Whew, didn't think I was going to make it at times. It's not that the classes were uber hard. It was the mind-numbing avalanche of it. It was soooo much at times. One day, contemplating my books and handouts in front of me, I realized that I had to read (if I, indeed, read it all) over 300 pages for one day (okay, that was a long day and the one class with 162 pages of briefs was the bitter pill). But 300 pages.

And then there was the whole ego crushing thing. I had to realize that (1) I wasn't dumb because my grades were lower than some (okay, most at one time) and (2) it is possible to get a job without law review, competition moot court or other accolades on my resume (okay, I also had the advantage of having a Ph.D.). That literally took 2 years and a job offer to overcome. I am not sure how much I admitted on this blog and to others, but there were times I thought I must be a complete moron. I will be open here and say, with a mite embarrassment, that on those days, I took out my publications from science and my Ph.D. diploma to look at and remind myself, hey, I ain't stoopid.

But the worst part of the whole experience had to be the doubt each day about whether I would even like working as a lawyer. I would bounce along, feelin' fine, when some jackass of an attorney would speak at a student function and either explicitly or implicitly bitch about their job. The hours, the billing, the clients, whatever. And then it would hit me...would I like it and what the hell was I supposed to do if I didn't. I could go back to academics, but not without practically defaulting on loans (unlike other 2nd career folks I have met, I did not just step away from a lucrative job). And then I would imagine my husband, looking at me with disappointment, even horror, in his eyes as I tried to explain that the last 1 year (2 years, 2.5 years) were a complete mistake and yes I know we owe the equivalent of a mortgage now, but I CAN'T DO IT.

What kept me going? My husband's undying love and support, the other bloggers who brightened my day (even if it was just a misery loves company thing), my animals, the people in my class, and stubbornness.

To start with the last one, I believe many people in law school finish out of stubbornness. What else could it be? Part of the puzzle is in evidence after your 1st year (how is my GPA? lousy. hmm). Another piece is evident based on having spent time listening to attorneys (yikes, that sounds really boring). But you push through and start 2nd year thinking, well I don't really know what it would be like as a lawyer. And then, I think people just start gutting it out. I know so many that when asked what kind of law they wanted to do, the answer was invariably, "the one that pays." And that's a HUGE problem. Think of it this way. In graduate school, science or humanities, you get to specialize in what interests you. You can pursue the marketable (some do) but most simply choose their passion and hope for the best. In medicine, it's similar, though I don't have any idea how much money influences most of the students. But in law school, the whole experience is ass-backward. You come in knowing very little about the law (most do). You take the same classes the first year. Then you are given little guidance as to what real law is like. I would love to see a 1-hour first year course entitled "The Law." It would be pass/fail. Each week, attorneys would come in to class from different areas of the law and students would be mock associates (schedule light reading prior to each week for that particular subject). During the time, you would run through an average day. Etc.

Anywhoo. Almost done.


(In)Sanity Gal said...

I like your idea about "The Law" class. It is frustrating that we law students often have no idea what we want to do or even what that might look like. And there are so many different ways to use a law degree, but I feel like there are basically two presented - the big firm track and the public interest track (at least at my school), and it leaves out so much in the middle and on the edges. Anyway, I echo so much of what you said, and congrats on being almost finished (as I am).

DawnTom said...

You're so close, keep it up! My husband just passed the Patent Bar and is getting ready for the regular one...I'll send the positive energy your way. Love your blog!

Eliza said...

Hey guys. Thanks! I am close, so I can sort of stop worrying about everything. I will be thankful when the bar and patent bar are behind me as well.

@Insanity Gal - I know, the whole experience seems to make assumptions up front that are invalid. I wish that law schools would look at themselves the way the students do.

Dennis said...

Oh congrats!

I definitely experienced the GPA embarrassment and currently in that "gutting it out" phase right now... I just look forward to writing a similar "OMG I AM DONE" post in about a year. A few more weeks and it's over. Oh excitement!