“Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.”

4 Jul

And herein ends both my legal and blawging careers, before they’ve even started.

I will not be going to law school this year, nor, probably, in any future year. For a myriad of reasons, encompassing the practical to the temperamental, I’ve decided that lawyering is not for me, and I’ve found my way to a different professional track. I’m fortunate that a few months of soul-searching resulted in finding a job that I love, but letting go of the law school dream was one of the hardest things I have ever done (obviously, I have not had a terribly difficult life).

So if any of you are on the waitlist at the University of Virginia for the Class of 2014, perhaps you are one spot closer to making it in. You’re welcome.

I’ve been blogging (yes, regular blogging) elsewhere about normal people things (read: non-law school). Maybe I’ll come back later and link to that blog, because I get way more site visits here than I am over there. Probably because everyone involved with the law is neurotic and obsessive and prone to reading the blawgs of people who have no idea what they are talking about (me).

Anyway, I’m signing off. And if you ever need a reason to avoid law school, look no further than Oscar Wilde’s stand on arguing.

I’m just trying to be normal, OK?

17 Feb

I’ve been having the most bizarro dreams lately. I totally think it’s because I’ve been such a mental freakshow for the last month. A few nights ago, I woke up like, eight times and every time I woke I had been having a different dream. Tres uncool. And then, of course, I’d wake up for realz at 7 AM and immediately start thinking about law school. So that’s not positive.

What is positive is that I’ve gotten a better hold on myself over the last couple of days. What that means is that I’ve stopped (a) crying more than once a day, (b) leaving work just after noon to go home and spend time inside my head, and (c) putting ridiculous amounts of junk food in my mouth while also not working out.

All of that is good stuff. What is even better stuff is that I’m starting to get perspective on my to-law-school-or-not-to-law-school dilemma! I don’t have a decision yet, but I can see it off somewhere in the distance, vaguely coalescing into something determinative. So that totally deserves a high five, mirite?

In the meantime, while I’m waiting for my decision to make itself known in a flash of blinding light, as I’m sure it will, I’m going to get back into a regular workout routine. I got in the pool on Tuesday for the first time since June, and OMG THE OLD MAN IN THE LANE NEXT TO ME LAPPED ME LIKE 18 TIMES. Old people just dominate in the pool. Maybe it’s because the pool is the only place they can, for the most part, avoid young whippersnappers like myself and they end up being super swimmers. Sorry for ruining your peace, seniors. I know you’re disturbed by my gasping and flailing about as I try not to drown, but I promise I’ll get better. Like, soon.

I’m also going to read more non-law related books (like Anne of Green Gables) and play more video games (Chrono Trigger, anyone?). This is a recipe for sane decision-making and not going crazy and being, like, a normal human being. If it isn’t, I need (a) suggestions or (2) a life coach.

Schizophrenic Deliberation

10 Feb

What does one do when one is confused, lost, or just unsure?

I suppose it varies, but I research. I’ve done at least 5 in-person informational interviews with practicing lawyers, and I’ve struck up an email dialogue with a sixth attorney. I’ve borrowed countless books – Law School Confidential, Getting to Maybe, Running From the Law, Should You Really Be A Lawyer? – and spent endless hours reading TLS forums and other online resources, including blawgs written by people who hate their jobs and their lives and others who love their jobs and their lives. I’ve taken multiple Myers-Briggs tests and other personality questionnaires. I’ve drawn Venn diagrams and attempted to identify my ideal work environments, preferred tasks, favorite subjects, and possible passions.

Where am I now? I can argue with clarity and confidence that I should go to law school and become a lawyer. I can argue with as much clarity and confidence that I should wait a year, or two, or forever and then go to law school and become a lawyer.

My research and self-examination have done me no good at all. The boyfriend has referred to my deliberations as schizophrenic because I go between convictions so quickly and unexpectedly.

Last week, I decided that I should spend some time out of my own head and do some soul searching that isn’t specifically law-related. So I picked up What Should I Do With My Life? by Po Bronson. The book is a collection of short biographies on the lost and confused, the employed and unemployed, the confident and the not-so-confident. I’ve recognized myself in at least a few of the individuals in the book, but especially in a woman named Leela. At a point, after scores of informational interviews that only “intensified her anxiety” (176)*, she stops looking. Apparently, finding a path is “one of the few things in life where being smarter doesn’t give you any advantage in finding your answer” (176).

So maybe I should pull a Leela and just stop looking. Put my academic and career aspirations aside for a long minute and see what happens. Law school will be there when I want to return to it, if I do. But if I go now, I’ll be on that track. I won’t have a chance to explore other options.

But do I really want other options? So, like, maybe I should just go.

*I was totally an English major, but I’ll spare you the full MLA citation.

Well Suited (in the non-sartorial sense)

8 Feb

Do you know what it’s like to tell your parents that for realz you are probably not going to law school this year or maybe ever? And that you aren’t entirely sure what you want to do instead?

I do. And for the youngest, “last hope”* child to disappoint her parents in that way is pretty wrenching. Like, I cried.

OK. Low point. Low point.

Let’s talk instead about what I think I’m missing: conviction. Clearly, I don’t have a lot of conviction about law school other than my commitment to it for the last five-ish years. What I’m lacking is a real reason to become a lawyer. A reason to practice law.** I don’t necessarily mean a cause because causes can be served without law degrees. And can’t an intellectual interest in the law be satisfied without three years of school? I mean, if I’m going to law school, I’m going to go because I want to practice law, not because I want to further a social or political agenda or tickle my intellectual fancy.

So does anyone really want to practice law? Why? What appeals to them about it? And I mean the actual practice of law, not the idea of practicing law. To be honest, I like monotony. I like details and paperwork and writing and research. I’m not particularly creative, and I probably wouldn’t feel stifled by legal work. But even though I do not have many of the characteristics that make many people unsuited for practice, I’m not sure that I have any of the characteristics that make one suited for practice. Let’s make a list of those characteristics.

  • Adversarial nature, or at least an enjoyment of competition
    • I am not this person. I am so not this person. I really don’t like confrontation, and I’m afraid I don’t have that desire to win that might do a litigator good. On the other hand, I don’t like to lose. And I guess I don’t need to be a litigator.
  • Ability to manage stress
    • I don’t think I’m much of a stress-manager. I’m pretty high-strung and anxious. I mean, part of the reason I resuscitated this blog was to make sense of my law school decision anxiety. I’ve heard that anxious personalities make good lawyers because they try to cover every potentiality, but does a good, anxious lawyer make for a happy person? I’m afraid that putting myself in a profession that rewards anxiety might be a tempest in a teapot.
  • Analytical nature
    • How, after four years of college, can I not be sure if I’m an analytical person or not? Well, I’m certainly not sure, but I’m not sure. I’m afraid that I simply don’t have an analytical mind and that I’ll be in over my head in the law. That I just won’t “get it.” That when I have to do some applying of law to fact I just won’t be able to turn things over in my mind and come up with a good analysis. How does one figure this out without actually being in law school?

I know there are things I’m missing, so what other characteristics should a practicing attorney have? How am I supposed to know if I’m a good fit for this profession or not?

* I’m the youngest of three. My mom has been calling me her “last hope” for 18 years.

**I’m not going to mention money as a reason to practice. We all know it isn’t. And now that I’ve mentioned and dismissed it, we can move on.

Oh, hi, lost blog.

7 Feb

I started this blog back in 2009, when I was a twenty-one-year-old junior in college. Back when I thought I knew what I wanted, and when I thought what I wanted was to be a lawyer – or at least to go to law school.

I stopped writing.. a while ago. I guess around the time I realized what a scary place the legal market is and around the time that I decided to defer law school in order to join AmeriCorps*VISTA instead.

I’m writing again now because I am twenty-three and have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. I couldn’t tell you if it is to be in the law or to run from it. I couldn’t tell you what I would do if I didn’t go to law school in August. My guess? Be employed and happy and have a vague plan to eventually go back to school to get a degree that I’d have a targeted use for.

What do you need to know about me?
1. In 8th grade, I had to do a “career research” project. I chose lawyering, and I said to my study buddy, “This sounds terrible and I will never do it.”
2. Senior year of high school, I thought I was going to be a violin performance major. By January 2006, I changed my mind and decided I wanted to be employed, so I chose to major in English instead. (Oh, cruel irony.)
3. Freshman year of college, I decided I was going to be a lawyer. I don’t remember why. I declared a second major in Political Science (because isn’t that what lawyer-wannabes do?) and chugged along happily for three years.
4. Junior year of college, I took the LSAT and did well. Hello, six-figure salaries!
5. Senior year of college, I realized that the legal market sucks and law school is expensive. Hello, six-figure debt!
6. First year out of college, I realized that law school is expensive, Biglaw jobs pay big because hours and stress are big, and oh heeey, I might not want to do much lawyering at all, even non-Biglaw lawyering.

So here I am, sitting on a really big scholarship to a really good school with serious plans to not go. Now, or maybe at all. In the meantime, I’m facing a looming deadline to lock in an apartment in a primo location next to my maybe law school, and I feel obligated to make the decision to go or not go by the time I get that “Welcome off the waitlist!” email.

Maybe resuscitating this blog will force my thoughts onto a screen and help me make a decision. Or, you know, maybe it’ll get crazy popular and I’ll be able to make serious bank on ads and I’ll never need to go to law school to have even a shot at a decent income.

Tagalongs on my decision-making journey are welcome, especially current law students and practicing attorneys with valuable insight.

Coulda Been

17 Aug

If I hadn’t deferred, I would’ve been oriented to my new school today (and for the rest of the week).

1Ls, what did I miss? Did you have an awesome time? Did you drink awesome shooters, listen to awesome music, and then just sit around and soak up each others [1L] awesomeness?

(Does one ever get too old to quote Mean Girls? I think not.)

I’m torn between jealousy and relief. Since I chose to not be in your shoes today, I’m going to side with relief. But I’ll be living vicariously through you all for the next year!

Sidelines

9 Aug

My best friend is freshly engaged to be opposite married. She and her fiance (!) both hold down jobs (read: have paychecks) and are fully independent.

Because I’ve chosen to prolong my education by three years, and because I’ve chosen to prolong the completion of my education by one year by taking time off between undergrad and law school, I will not be in a similar position for at least four more years.

I don’t mean in a position to be married, exclusively, because that isn’t at the top of my to-do list. But the idea that I could get married if I wanted to, that I would be financially capable of independently running a home and enjoying a comfortable lifestyle, instead of being on the sidelines of life as a perpetual student, is definitely appealing.

Then again, what is opposite marriage or financial independence next to the successful pursuit of knowledge, anyway? Certainly I’m taking the path to a higher existence! Right? Right??

The Future Bitter Lawyer?

25 Jun

What is an almost-law-student to do when coming across things like this?

I think I, and most other future or current law students, would be foolish to not consider what truth and universality might be found in lists like this one. As always, I wonder how any of us are really supposed to know whether we are suited to practicing law without having ever actually, you know, practiced law.

Why I Want to be a Lawyer When I Grow Up

23 Jun

What should every aspiring law student know before they start law school?

Well, I certainly don’t know, but I have a vague idea that aspiring law students should know whether they want to be lawyers or not before beginning 1L.

Maybe I am in a minority of pre-Ls, but it’s hard to say if I want to be a lawyer because I don’t really know what lawyers do all day. I have a very strong feeling that I want to be a lawyer, and I am willing to endure three years of law school to become one (because I still haven’t figured out a way around law school). I interned in a tiny law office that did criminal defense (pass) in college, but since I know I don’t want to do that kind of work, I’m not sure it really keyed me into what my day-to-day would be at a firm.

Based on my admittedly slim knowledge of what I might end up doing as a lawyer, this is why I want to be a lawyer:

  • I want to do something that matters to people. Not in the warm and fuzzy sense of saving the world, but just the basic “someone is relying on me” kind of work. I spent all of college writing papers and doing research on subjects that were of absolutely no practical value, and I hated it. No one cares about my literary interpretation of The Tempest. Someone might care about my interpretation of their rights and duties to or from an employee or client. Maybe. If I’m good at what I do.
  • I realize I can do meaningful work without getting a law degree. But I think the law is interesting. I like rules, and I like structure. The law is a pretty big set of rules, and it gives a pretty large society a non-barbaric structure (most of the time). It behooves me to understand the rules so I can play the game.
  • I want to do work that engages my mind every day. Period. I know that part of my work (until I can foist it onto junior associates or interns) will be made up of drafting formulaic motions. OK. But part of Britney Spears’ job is to get on the treadmill every day. There are pros and cons to every job.

I’m also fully aware that the law is a service profession. Good thing I (a) am not socially inept and (b) do not expect to be left alone in my library with books.

Am I missing good reasons for wanting to be a lawyer? If you have some goodies that you used to rationalize attending law school, feel free to share!

Upgrading

11 Jun

When making decisions, people are prone to placing more weight on negative outcomes even when those outcomes are significantly less likely to occur than positive or neutral outcomes. (See Scott Plous.) In January, I bought a 15″ MacBook Pro with a Core2Duo processor. (A few short months later, an upgraded MBP was released with the new Intel i5 processor. Figures.) By the time I begin law school, this computer will be a year and a half old. It is currently covered by the AppleCare warranty (which only lasts for up to three years, if purchased), but to extend it for two years (which would cover it until midway through 2L) will cost $350.

I recently read a report that there is approximately a 17% chance that my MBP will have reliability issues within three years. Although I used an iBook G4 for four years (and my parents are now enjoying it without trouble), I have heard negative things about the most recent Apple products’ reliability — notably, that reliability is decreasing.

My concern, because I am focused more on the less than 1 in 5 chance that my computer will have issues than on the 80% chance that it won’t, is that this computer, new though it is, will not last through law school. I am terrified that it will crash at a very inopportune time. I also am unsure about dropping $350 just to cover my computer until halfway through 2L.

I am strongly leaning toward buying the MBP bundle offered by my school next summer. The bundle includes a 13″ MBP (the diminished screen size is not much of an issue for me), a three-year warranty, and loaner laptops should my computer ever crap out on me. I don’t want to replace the computer I have now. I really, really don’t. It just seems silly to spend $350 for what amounts to half-time coverage, especially when I may have to buy a new computer before the end of law school anyway (mine would be over four years old).

The three-year warranty and loaner laptop really pushes me toward buying a new computer before 1L, despite the sense of waste I will have about my current laptop. I will, of course, religiously back-up all of my work, but I would feel more secure knowing that if my computer fails before finals, I will still have a machine to work on.

As usual, I get the sense that I am over-thinking a purchase that, if it occurs, will not occur for a calendar year. Sigh.