I have just finished law school, and now I have a few days before I start studying for the bar exam. Due to a bunch of unexpected expenses this year, my nest egg for living expenses while I’m studying was eaten up, and now I realize I have to work full-time while studying full-time in order to pay the bills. Is it hard? I don’t know; I’ve been doing this for a while now, so what’s another two months?
I don’t know if I enjoyed being a law student. Overall, except for some things, like my clinic, I didn’t really like it. I never wanted to go back to high school, and law school is basically high school, but worse in some ways. I went to commencement and I walked even though I didn’t want to do so, and I’m looking forward to taking the bar exam largely so I can stop being a student.
There are so many law students who have their friends and family to thank for getting them through, for supporting them, for helping them through. I see a lot of this. This is what we hear in commencement speeches. Despite the long hours, the insecurity, the competition, and such, we made it, but always with the support of each other, with the support of others.
But we never hear about the students who had to muster up more strength than most. There’s no mention of the students put themselves through law school, or the ones that were also taking care of others while going to law school. We don’t hear about the non-traditional students who took the very lonely and alienating path of entering what is ultimately a rich child’s game and still came through. We never hear about the ones who waited years for their turn to go to school and had to learn how to engage with people so much younger, in an environment that largely treats them no different than their classmates who haven’t “adulted” for very long, if at all. No one gives a commencement speech about the working class and poor students who didn’t get to go on the boat cruises, or law prom, or trips abroad because they were working to make sure they could stay in law school. We don’t hear about the students who don’t have connections, who come to law school alone and leave alone because they don’t have the kind of social capital that their middle-class and upper-class classmates have. There’s no congratulations to the students who don’t come from highly educated families or communities and have to figure out how to act like they belong there while drifting further away from all the people and the things they know as they change. There is no special congratulations to the students who tried to remain true to themselves in a culture that demands conformity or hell to pay. No law school president ever gives a commencement speech mentioning the students who were bullied and ostracized, who through their despair, made it through school anyway, only to wonder if it’s all just more of the same if they work in law. There’s no mention of the students who are now on antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication, or who have acquired an addiction to alcohol because of law school but still managed to make it into their sweaty doctoral garb and onto that folding chair while waiting to be handed a leather envelope that doesn’t have an actual diploma in it because grades aren’t due for another three weeks.
And why should they? After all, what is commencement but one big circle jerk for students’ families?
I don’t know if I liked law school the way I don’t know if I like a really expensive, nice looking pair of shoes that hurt my feet.
In a way, I’m glad I chose this profession. Despite any other reason I may have, I have entered into one of the most misunderstood professions in America. Most Americans have no idea what lawyers do, why they do it, or even how our judiciary works. Many think they do, and this is their folly.
I never thought I would find a career I would like to do that would satisfy my Neptune, chart ruler, conjunct the midheaven, but I found it in law, because law is an illusion. It’s a fiction that most of us agree by. It’s about as getting as close to ideals as possible and trying to enrobe one’s self in the garb of a certain position.
Despite popular belief, it’s not about lies or tricks. What people think are lies and tricks are ethics codes, procedures, litigation and negotiation tactics, and the things people see on television that they automatically assume happen in real life. It doesn’t help that many emerging pro-se services perpetuate these myths by calling standard parts of the litigation process “lawyer’s tricks” or “lawyer’s traps” when really, you can just find out what these things are if you read your state’s Supreme Court rules.