Posts Tagged ‘law school’

#UMWFG: The Dream Maker

In Education, Happiness, Law School Problems, Lawyer Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on October 28, 2013 at 3:23 am

That’s exactly what your brain is: a dream maker of the sleeping, waking, and life-long varieties. As a teacher, one of my favorite things was watching a student formulate a dream and begin to articulate that dream and take steps toward that dream. My 7th graders are now 11th graders, and it is so  cool to see them pursuing fashion, writing, graphic arts, computer science, music, dance, engineering, skateboarding, sports, public speaking, and general happiness. Encouraging and equipping young people to make dreams and pursue dreams is THE most important function of our education system.

But, I digress. The point is to use my words for good. At this moment, I want to celebrate by using my words for good. I found out Friday that I passed the Georgia Bar examination. I get to be an attorney 🙂 I have wanted to be an attorney since at least the fourth grade and probably since the first grade.

I am blessed to say that I didn’t reach this dream by accident, by luck, or particularly quickly.  While I am not insane enough to believe that every human being should become a lawyer, I am insane enough to believe that EVERY human being needs a dream to chase. More than that: every dreamer needs encouragement and the occasional push while hunting down that elusive and nearly invisible dream.

Here are some mental and emotional obstacles that I have encountered on my continuing journey:

1. I AM NOT TOO OLD. “By the time you graduate, you’ll be 32!” They said. But, I was going to be 32 either way, right? Don’t listen to this one.

2. I AM NOT TOO YOUNG. Ok, ok, ok. So, yes. LOTS of young people need to experience life before honing in on THE DREAM. But, I knew in high school that I wanted to major in political science and minor in history. I took a long path trying to make “sure” that the dream I had was the right dream. There is no “right” dream. There is my dream and there are the dreams that don’t belong to me.

3. THERE ARE NEVER TOO MANY PEOPLE.  “There are so many lawyers out there already. Do you really want to be one more?” They said.  Incorrect thought process. There is not another me who is already a lawyer. There is a reason that God dropped a love of politics and law into a 6 year old’s heart. I may indeed be one of thousands of lawyers, but I have a purpose that is unique.

4. MY DREAM IS NOT THE ONLY DREAM. There’s no need to trample someone else’s dream. That’s just rude. I have no right to do it to another any more than that other has the right to do it to me. It all comes down to the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

5. SOMEONE ELSE’S DREAM IS NOT AN INDICTMENT OF YOUR DREAM. “Oh. A lawyer? Well, that’s not my thing. I’m perfectly ok with ______.” A few times when I told others that I was quitting my job and going back to law school, I was met with a chill. I don’t think that law is the best profession. Law is simply the best profession for me. The fact that I chose law doesn’t mean that I think that anyone else should choose law. Be careful of people who meet your dream with this reaction; before you know it, you might begin to think that your dream is TOO big, TOO impossible, and TOO impractical for you to chase.

6. DREAMERS NEED COMPANY. But, not just any company. I had to surround myself with like-minded dreamers. Dreams are tiring, exhilarating, elusive, and tangible all at the same time. That roller coaster can put pressure on partnerships and friendships if both people don’t know first-hand the weight of a dream. I lost friends and made friends during law school. The making of friends felt great. The losing of friends was wrenching.

7. SHORT TERM SACRIFICE IS CONTINUALLY IN THE WINGS. Dreams are time-consuming and/or money-consuming affairs. Before I started law school, I was focused on paying down my loan from getting my master’s degree and also with saving money in general. So, no fancy handbags; no new cars; no elaborate vacations; no fancy crib. I didn’t have time to plan all my meals. Regrettably, I ate many meals from the snack machine. I didn’t have the money to get the AC in my car fixed right away, so I hot-boxed my way through town for a few weeks. I had to cut down on my church commitments. But, now I know that none of it was permanent. I can lose weight. I got my AC fixed (eventually). I have more time now to spare, and I have learned that new cars, vacations, and houses are not the causes of happiness but are rather the least important symptoms of success. Fancy handbags, I must admit, are my weakness.

8. LIFE IS A WONDERFUL EXPERIMENT. There is no guaranteed outcome for which every human being should be gunning. When I was teaching, I would spend my weekends grading papers and being angsty. Monday morning was a bad time, topped only by the first day after Christmas break. I was overwhelmed and exhausted most of the time. To put it bluntly, I was unhappy. Not because teaching is a bad career–but because I wasn’t meant to be a teacher for any longer than the 4 years that I did it. There is nothing sinful in changing directions. There is no shame in admitting that you need to make a new choice.

9. IT’S RARELY ABOUT THE MONEY. I won’t say never. But, I never cared much about being filthy rich. I’m not sure why, it just never was something I was into. I didn’t go to law school to make piles of money (though, to be sure, if was not blind to the fact that I could make piles of money). When the economy tanked and legal jobs were hard to find and salaries fell to bargain basement levels, I wasn’t *quite* as disappointed as I might otherwise have been. Pablo Picasso, Sigmund Freud, Marie Curie, Thurgood Marshall, Nelson Mandela, Shirley Chisolm and Coco Chanel didn’t chase their dreams for the money (though money several of them made). Money is just a symptom of chasing and catching the dream. Money itself isn’t much good–unless (obviously) you plan on having a Scrooge McDuck-style money tidal pool.

10. TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE. Don’t change your dream because of someone else’s actions or words. Don’t fail to change your dream because of someone else’s actions or words. Your life is entrusted to your keeping alone once you reach adulthood.


Monday Bar Review Blues and All That (Christian) Jazz

In Bar Prep Problems, Encouragement, First World Problems, Law School Problems, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on July 23, 2013 at 4:55 am

Have I mentioned that I am taking the bar this summer? Have I mentioned that studying for the bar is miserable for me? It is. BUT, I am down to about 7 days before the end begins. And, let me tell you: this is a crawl to the finish. Quite frankly, I am feeling like a chip of pine bark. It has been a lonely and trying couple of months. I have experienced sadness, self-doubt, abandonment, isolation, confusion, and anger. It feels like I am being ripped to shreds–and there is no guarantee that I will pass. Like a flash of lightning, I realized that I needed some good Words.

Reading over my scripture cards (yes, I made scripture cards…type A personality! Hello!?), I experienced not my old reaction of feeling confirmation (and even pride), but rather a feeling that the words before me were goals. The words are measures of what I can achieve and reminders that God can take me to those places. These words are, for me right now, mirror and magnifying glass and window and telescope all at once. The big picture and the details feel a little clearer. I am God’s and no matter what happens, that is what really counts. In passing, I can learn more about Him. In failing, I can learn more about Him. The part of me that is closest to Him can never fail.

Here are some of the scriptures that grabbed me.

1. “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26).

2. “Why should I be afraid of bad days?…” (Psalm 49:5)

3. “Nevertheless, His mind concerning me remains unchanged, and who can turn Him from His purposes? Whatever He wants to do, He does. So He will do for me all He has planned. He controls my destiny.” (Job 23:13-14)

4. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 35-39)

5. “You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh.” (Psalm 38:9)

6. “[God] who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” (II Corinthians 1:4)

7. “. . . For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6)

8. “No one will succeed by strength alone.” (I Samuel 2:9b)

9. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:6-7)

10. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed . . . ” (From II Corinthians 4:8-10)

11. “For God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.” (Romans 11:29)

12. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

13. “Simon, Simon, Listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22: 31-32)

14. “For the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been confounded. Therefore, I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50:7)

15. “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

16. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. There is need of only one thing.” (Luke 10:41-42)

17. “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (II Chronicles 20:15)

Open Letter Re: Law School

In First World Problems, Law School Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on September 27, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Dear Professor,

You know how you assigned 150 pages of reading? Yeah, that snatched my motivation to even BEGIN reading. Thus, I read 5 pages and gave up. You know that time you assigned 35 pages of reading? That was do-able. Thus, I read all 35 pages AND took notes.


Dear Person Who Has Lots of Questions:

I respect your love of learning. But, your questions are confusing. Please set up an appointment with Professor ____ during office hours.


Dear Person Who Whispers During the Whole Class:

I can hear you. A lot.


Dear Person Who Always Name Drops During Class:

I have no idea who you are talking about. Please stop.


Dear Person Who is Secretly Racist/Sexist/Homophobic/Religious Bigot/Ageist/Etc.:

We all know. Every time you open your mouth. We know you are not playing Devil’s Advocate.


Dear Person Who Like Me Zones Out Every Now and Then:

Hit me up on Google chat so that we can set up a schedule. I can pay attention while you are zoned out and vice versa. Then, we can trade notes after class.


Dear Person Who Works at a Law Firm:

Every hypo in class does not relate to your firm. I promise.


Dear Professor:

I will not object or feel shorted if you end class early. I will, however, be annoyed if you finish your material an hour early and then have a “discussion.”


Dear Professor:

Not all of us will work at big firms. I’m just saying.


Dear Person in Class Who is Sick:

Go home. Please. Attending today’s class WILL NOT make the difference between an A and a C.


Dear Person in Class Who Did Not Bathe:

Please re-evaluate your priorities. Thank you.


Dear Person Whose Phone Rang But You Are Trying to Ignore It:

We all know it’s your phone. Just ignore the call. It’s all good. It can happen to the best of us.


Dear Person in Class Who Is A Gunner:

I respect your hustle…kind of.

Networking and Nincompoopery

In First World Problems, Law School Problems, Lawyer Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on September 18, 2012 at 2:56 am

I read a recent post on a blog that shall remain nameless. The post claimed to give advice to 1Ls on how to have a successful first year. Unfortunately, the post did nothing of the sort. It was the sort of post written by someone who stressed out over law school and believes/wants every law student to do the same.

I’m a person who stressed out over law school, spun my wheels, and got stuck in the mud. I’ve had wonderfully triumphant moments and terribly discouraging moments. I do not, however, believe that every law student has to be stressed to the bone in order to do law school successfully. Without further ado, here are some thoughts about a successful law school year.

1. It’s a weed out system. I know that’s messed up, but it’s true. Law school prides itself on being a sifter that separates the potential lawyers from everyone else. It’s a weed out system. Know that, embrace it, but refuse to be ruled by it. If it wasn’t a weed out system, explain why you are assigned 50 to 100 pages of reading a night. Bad advice will tell you that you have to be the highest in your class that you can possibly be. I do think grades are important, but there are other equally important parts of a lawyer’s skill box: writing, speaking, practical experience.

2. You know that random lawyer you met who is a partner at Big Firm, LLP? Let’s be honest. She may not remember you. Even though you gave her your card. Even though you took her card and sent her an e-mail. Networking is not a magical skill that will unlock the doors to jobs and riches. Bad advice will tell you that you should be at some random meet-n-greet every week. Good luck with that. I’m going to go on a bit about this one, because networking is the one that sticks in my craw.

Networking is not the most important thing you can do to secure yourself a job. If you are just going out to meet people in the hopes of landing a job, I honestly believe that you have missed the point. Human beings crave connection and relationships. Believe it or not, lawyers are human, too 🙂 Personally, I don’t look for opportunities. I look for relationships, camaraderie and collegiality. I look for ways that I can truly connect to a person.

3. Professionalism does not mean you have to be stiff. Professionalism is more about your character than your clothing. Your law school colleagues may not remember that Oscar de la Renta suit you own, but they will remember if you cheated, if you were rude, if you tore pages out of library books, if you gossiped too much, or if you didn’t do good work.

4. You need to find a balance between preparation and sanity. Good luck with trying to read every case every night. You’ll be tired, crazy, annoyed, and annoying. Sometimes you need to close the book, cut your losses, and go to bed. If you get embarassed in class for not being prepared….well, I’ve been embarrassed in class on occasions when I WAS prepared AND when I WASN’T. Get yourself some case summary supplements and black letter law outlines.

5. You should not be constantly worried about finding a job. What will worry get you? Nothing. Yes, the economy is bad. Yes, Big Firm, LLP has cut back (severely) on the number of new attorney hires every year. You get the once in a lifetime opportunity of cutting your own path. The sky is literally the limit right now. JDs are branching out into human resources, mediation, politics, insurance, and numerous other positions. The box is no longer there, so you might as well think outside of it.

What other kinds of bad law school advice have you been given?