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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.

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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.

Pre-1L Gap Year Reading

8 Jun

Among other things, I was an English major in college. (I was also a Political Science major and a borderline alcoholic. Red wine helped me write papers a la Hemingway.) I have read a lot of things I never wanted to read and will never read again. I have not read a lot of things I want or wanted to read because my time was spent reading and re-reading The Tempest. (Three times in three semesters.)

For the next two months while I am an unemployed college graduate, I am going on a reading bender. It started with Lords of Finance, which I recently finished. Having absolutely no background in finance or economics (I read The Tempest three times in college. Do you think I have any affinity for numbers?), some of it was hard to muddle through. I caught myself repeatedly thinking, “OK, so deflation is a general decrease in prices. What does that mean for the real cost of money? Uh…” But the book’s profiling of the major central bankers of the period is very easy to follow and quite interesting. I shouldn’t mind seeing a similar work done about the central figures of the most recent crisis.

I am now blitzing through The Nine, which is easier for me to understand more in line with my interests. The book profiles members of the Rehnquist Court, though it also provides some background for other justices. I am very impressed with the author’s seamless flow from one story and anecdote to another while integrating important information about the mood of the country and political movements. Overall, the book is a joy to read. Although I am two years late (thank you, English major, for ensuring that I read nothing of interest in college) and most people who were ever going to read this book probably already have, I feel an obligation to insist that my readers (Hi, Mom! … My mom totally doesn’t read this blog. Nor does anyone else.) pick it up.

End Public Service Announcement.

The Hold

7 Jan

The BlackBerry buzzed. I glanced at it nonchalantly, expecting more Kerasotes Five Buck Club reminders (No, thank you, Kerasotes. You drive a hard bargain, but New Moon once at full price was enough.). I saw, instead, an email from Harvard. A quick skim resigned me to my waitlist status–but wait! File updates and supplements? Additional LORs? Not a waitlist–merely a hold! A chance to redeem my whimpering application, terrorized into quiet submission and acceptance of its mediocrity by the hoards of Admits’ sparkling resumes and witty, yet on-message, personal statements!

Yes, I have been held for re-consideration until Harvard reviews more of its applicant pool, at which point I will be admitted only if no one better comes along. I will play the game, submitting an updated resume (that is still lackluster), updated grades (honestly, one of the strongest parts of my initial application in the first place, so little bump to be had here), and perhaps an additional LOR or two. To not do these things would be foolish.

I do not have great hopes for a Harvard admit this year. However, this year’s hold gives me reason to hope for next year’s cycle. My numbers will be the same, my GPA possibly even on the other side of 4.0. I know that my numbers are not holding me back; it is, instead, my lack of “soft” factors. Harvard’s willingness to hold my application now, with my less-than-stellar softs, suggests to me that a beefed up resume and improved personal statement may land me a coveted spot in the Class of 2014.

This hold, rather than disappointing or saddening me, makes several decisions that I have been struggling with much easier to make. Because I’ve firmly decided against attending law school in the fall, rather than be forced into picking a school now and deferring, I have the confidence to withdraw my applications, re-apply next year, and believe that I have a fighting chance at HLS.

This is the best thing that has happened to me all year (one week in)!

Resolutions: 2010

1 Jan

I like New Year’s resolutions. Two years ago, I decided to stop being fat, lost fifteen pounds, and have never looked back. (Except for the three and a half months that I lived in London. I got a little pudgy then.) Before I launch into my (short) list of ways that I intend to be better in the coming year, I think it would be beneficial to consider the year that just passed.

2009 was, for the U.S. as a nation, perhaps not the greatest. Unemployment soared, Rush Limbaugh was sent to the hospital but unfortunately did not kick it, and The Biggest Loser remained on TV. For me, personally, though, not a bad year. In chronological order, the good things that happened to me:

  • I turned 21. Forget that I spent September-December of 2008 legally marinating in vodka in London before returning to the States and turning 21 in January. The birthday was still a milestone.
  • I went on my first cruise. Very enjoyable, and very, very affordable. Especially if you forgo the twelve-dollar cocktails.
  • I spent two weeks in South Korea. It was awesome, and I want to go back.
  • June 2009 LSAT. Yes, it was a good day.
  • Law school applications were completed, and apparently not laughed at and then burned by admissions committees. I’ve been accepted into every school I’ve heard back from, and money has been thrown around. Not bad.

Yes, 2009 was enjoyable. In the hopes of making 2010 as enjoyable, if not more so, I will concentrate on the following resolutions.*

  • Lose five pounds. Accomplish this by recommitting to five days a week in the gym, a balanced diet, and decreased alcohol consumption. Stop losing weight when your clothes begin getting too big. You went on a shopping spree from August to December of 2009, and that won’t be repeated in the new year.
  • Decrease your damn alcohol consumption, VS. Seriously. No joking around anymore. Limit drunkenness to one night a month and glasses of red and gin-based cocktails to three per week (at most). Learn to have fun at college bars without needing to take shots of tequila. Failing that (I anticipate a fail because college bars are a big LOSE), coerce persuade your friends to join you at that fun grad student bar off the square where you can indulge in one of your three libations of the week.
  • Stop being afraid, particularly of law school. Don’t imagine that you are going to drop out (and that if you don’t, you will be a terrible lawyer). People go to law school everyday, and half of them graduate above median! (Ignore the bottom half, for your own sanity.) At least, don’t worry about it this year, as you are not even going this year. Postpone ulcer-inducing panic until at least Spring 2011.

Most of all–really, really, most of all–I want to stop being afraid and panicking about my abilities as a law student. To that end, I’ve made the other resolutions. I think I will be more confident in my law student abilities if I am more confident in my abilities as a human being.

Also, hearing personal anecdotes about others’ pre-law school insecurities is always comforting.

*I believe in keepable resolutions. Mostly because I have every intention of keeping mine, and making a limited number of reasonable resolutions is key to succeeding.