h1

On hold

August 17, 2010

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in quite a while, even though everything has ramped up, what with Summer Preview, orientation, and now classes starting all this month. Well, that’s because I haven’t touched this blog in several weeks. It was absolutely necessary to get everyone and their sometimes well-meaning, sometimes not, advice and opinions out of my head. I realize that many of my new readers consider anything on the internet to be open season and anything goes, but you gotta remember — I consider my blog to be my personal space, and with a lot of the comments, I felt infringed upon. I seriously doubt anyone would be so vocal or adversarial in my home, but for some reason it’s perfectly okay on a stranger’s blog. I don’t agree with that point of view, ’cause at the end of the day you are all guests. The beauty of the blog is that I can turn any part of it off if I want to — and I did consider that.

The bottom line is, I blog for my pleasure alone. When that pleasure is gone, I cease to blog. This isn’t my first blog, nor will it be my last. Never will I blog out of obligation. I owe it to no one to defend or explain myself. In real life, I select my friends very carefully and they are all positive people. Likewise, I am under no obligation to engage negative people in this space, and if they have tainted it, I will move on.

I was just waiting for someone to stop telling me what NOT to do and tell me what I SHOULD do. It’s all well and good to tell me “law school bad,” but pray tell me, which of my alternatives is preferable? If you know so well what is best for me, I would love to hear what better things I could be doing with my life. Sadly, no one offered such advice.

But all that is neither here nor there. It kills me that I have to say this, but the truth is I’m not going to law school. Not this year, anyway. Before anyone gloats, I have to point out that it’s not for any of the reasons anyone tried to convince me. It has nothing to do with school loans and job prospects. It wasn’t reason that won out in the end, it was circumstance. While I would love to imbue you with salaciousness, I can’t do so without revealing personal information about other people close to me, so I won’t get into it. Suffice to say, it has been a hell of a summer. Most of the time, law school was the least of my worries, and in fact would be a welcome distraction.

Ultimately, however, my decision to wait for law school was less of a decision and more the result of manipulation. Besides, I figure law school is hard enough under the best of circumstances; it’s more of a death struggle without the support of a certain key figure. Unfortunately, what happened in the last weeks of July will likely have repercussions for the next couple of decades. Time will tell.

So where do I go from here? Well, I will apply to DU Law again. I will also apply for a Master’s program in Public Policy. I’m reviewing my options and will make a definite decision later, when some of the rawness has scabbed over. In the meantime, I will either find a part-time job or a volunteer position to keep me busy during the kids’ school year. And this time next year, I’ll be ready to embark on my next adventure.

h1

Some reflections

July 18, 2010

Update: I’ve been warned that my blog has been linked at a site that specializes in negativity. Respectful comments are welcome; however, anyone who appears to be a troll will be blocked. I welcome civil debate here, but you don’t have a right to free speech here. I consider this my personal space and trolls are not welcome. Please be respectful and polite.

*************************************

Wow, after that last post, I’m feeling the pressure to write something deep or intelligent…

Hmmm …. nope. Got nothing.

But let’s remember. This blog is basically just a chronicling of my law school experiences, and it isn’t meant to inform or advise. It’s just me talking about myself. Take it or leave it.

I do have to thank Elie and Above the Law, though, for linking to me and boosting the profile of my little ol’ blog. I got over 2000 page views in the last week! Which for me is huge, considering I was averaging around 25-30 page views a day before that. I realize that most of those people think I’m an idiot, but I hope a small fraction of those people like me enough to stick around and follow my journey.

Just look at that page views chart! (Click to embiggen)

And I am totally stoked to be accepted as a MILP, thanks to Butterflyfish! There’s a niche for everyone, and Moms in the Legal Profession suits me to a T. I’m very much looking forward to turning to these ladies for inspiration, support, commiseration, and laughs.

Some reflections on the comments I received last week:

  • I read every comment and tried to reply to most. It was hard to remain upbeat and friendly, but I tried.
  • After giving myself a couple of days to process, the comments didn’t bother me anymore. I was stunned at first, but I realized quickly not to take it personally.
  • Because none of these people know me personally. I asked myself: “Which of these people has my best interests at heart?” None of them do. Every single one was speaking from a place of personal self-interest (for example, what they have gone through). I am trying to take advice where it is well-intentioned, but the mean-spirited stuff is being ignored. Completely. Not because I’m stupid, but because I don’t give mean people purchase on my soul.
  • EPIPHANY: I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. I tried to explain, but I now regret it. I don’t owe anyone an explanation or a defense of my decision to attend law school. I want to go to law school, and THAT. IS. THAT.
  • I am an optimistic person and I refuse to let the Eeyores drag me down. I am fully supported by my husband, my parents and extended family, and my friends. In real life, no one has tried to dissuade me; they all believe in me. These are the people I surround myself with, and I know this makes a difference.
  • I am excited to go to law school. I really am. Not nervous, not scared, not obligated. Happy and excited.
  • I’m not scared about “after law school.” I’m as realistic as anybody, but I’m not looking for a job this year. I’m going to school. I’ll worry about the job later. And I will get a job. And I will pay off all my school loan debt. And I will have a career that satisfies me. You don’t have to believe me, but I’m not asking your opinion.

I’m even going to go a step further and be completely honest about this whole law career thing.

I don’t know exactly what it’s like to practice law. I don’t! Apparently, it is a mindless, menial job that requires no special qualifications whatsoever, if I am to believe what I read. Perhaps. I don’t really know. But then, likely none of those people have been a copyeditor either. Mind numbing, tedious work doesn’t intimidate me. I suspect, too, that a lot of people went into law with hopes of “changing people’s lives” or “helping people.” Which is great. I also sense a lot of dissatisfied lawyers have a creative side that is dying to get out, and realized too late that law doesn’t suit their creative needs. I get that. That’s not me.

I don’t know exactly what kind of law I want to practice. And I’m okay with that. At the moment, I’m most interested in Civil Rights — as in, protecting religious freedom in this country. I’m deeply concerned about the attacks on religion by the courts and groups like ACLU, and I want to have a part in defending religious rights. BUT. I realize I may not get my dream job in that, at least not at first. Or, I may have to do it pro bono. Therefore, I am keeping my options open. I’ll need something regular to pay the bills, and I am open to working something less than my dream while either pursuing my dream on the side or waiting for the right opportunities. This doesn’t make me dispassionate, this makes me pragmatic.

I don’t know exactly what the job market will look like in 2013. Neither does anyone else. It could be better, it could be even worse. WHO KNOWS. What I do know is that the status quo is no longer working for me. I am at a place in my life where decisions must be made; changes must occur. I could sit on my hands thinking about it a while longer, but I will be 40 years old in a few years, and I don’t want to be starting my career at the age of 40; I want to start it now. I have no justification whatsoever for continuing to stay at home and putting off a career. This is a golden window of opportunity, and I am seizing it. I chose the lofty goal of law school. So sue me.

And that, as Forrest would say, is all I have to say about that.

********************************

Mom used to tell me this little ditty:

I know my heart, I know my mind.

I know that I stick out behind.

Wait … well, the first line’s great anyway. I do know my heart, and I do know my mind. That’s the awesome thing about being 30-something.

h1

Am I making a big mistake?

July 9, 2010

YES … if I wanted to believe the numerous negative blogs out there. Believe me, if you are looking for reasons not to go to law school, there are plenty of online resources who will reinforce your fears. One of my favorites is the choleric liberal Elie Mystal from Above the Law. Every other post of his contains, at minimum, a snarky comment on why anyone would be stupid enough, or at best, apatheticuninformed and full of hubris, to go to law school these days. Look at the horrible job market! he warns. The 2010 grads can’t get jobs! he hyperventilates. The investment isn’t worth it! he doubles down with negativity.

Clearly, the man regrets his own decision to go to law school and is now projecting his disappointment and negative perspective on everyone else. Basically, unless you are going to be in the top 10% of the class of one of the Top 10 schools, you’re wasting your time (and more importantly, your money). Even then, you’ll likely hate your job.

He’s not the only one who talks like this; as I said, there’s no shortage of doomsayers running around the internet. Many of them have some salient points, and I agree that one should not go into law school uninformed and optimistically blind. It’s true: the job market for lawyers isn’t good right now.

But tell me, which job market is good right now? Medicine? Engineering? Even those have been hit to some degree. The truth is, there is no good job market right now. The whole country is in a depression, and every field is tough to break into. Should we all throw up our hands and give up?

My degree is in English (a truly completely worthless degree), and my work experience is in technical writing and editing, so I figured I’d conduct a little experiment. I did a job search for “writer,” another for “editor,” and yet another for “attorney.”

The “attorney” jobs available–and this is only a cursory search–far, far, FAR outnumbered the writer/editor jobs here in the Denver Metro Area. Moreover, it became clear to me that because I’ve been out of the loop for several years, I would have no choice but to take an entry-to-mid-level job in the writer/editor fields (think $30-40K/year). According to Elie Mystal logic, I should settle for this.

One reason I chose to pursue a JD was that it is somewhat versatile (more versatile than, say, a PhD in English, anyway). I may or may not be working as an attorney in the future; I’m keeping my options open. Yes, it is an expensive degree, and that does concern me somewhat. But then, so is every other degree. I also agree that tuition reform is needed, as well as student loan reform.

But am I making a big mistake by going to law school, as many would suggest? I suppose I won’t know for sure until three years from now. However, given my options, I’m confident I’m doing the right thing. I’m excited about starting school and a new career path. My old career path is even more forbidding than law, not to mention the crap pay, the lack of upward mobility, and job dissatisfaction. I plan to work in Denver, not NYC or DC–and definitely not in BigLaw–making DU, a tier 2 school, an appropriate choice for me. Everything has been falling into place, and I feel good about what I’m doing and where I’m headed.

Besides, I’m optimistic that Obama will lose his job in 2012 and the economy will begin to recover shortly thereafter. :-) See? It’s not all doom and gloom.

h1

Fall 2010 Class Schedule

July 2, 2010

I just got my class schedule for the Fall 2010 semester, and I’m absolutely giddy. Don’t ask me why, but this schedule has been the NUMBER ONE thing I have wanted to know for months! So here it is:

  • Lawyering Process – 10:30 a.m., M/W
  • Criminal Law – 2:45 p.m., M/T/Th
  • Civil Procedure – 9:00 a.m., T/Th/F
  • Torts – 10:35 a.m., T/Th/F

Overall, I’m really pleased with this schedule. My two younger kids will be in school from 9:00 to 3:30, and my older child will be able to look after herself, more or less, though it looks like I’ll mostly be around when she’s around.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, I’ll be able to drop my two younger kids off at school and make it in plenty of time for my own classes. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, I’ll have to leave the house at 8:00 am for my own class, so I will have to arrange either a friend or “before care” at the school for that hour. However, I expect one child to be in choir on T/Th, starting at 8:00, so it could work out really well, actually.

On Wednesdays and Fridays, I’ll be able to be home in time to get the kids from school. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, I won’t get out of class until almost 4:00, and I won’t get home until at least 4:45. That is where Supportive Hubby comes into play and may have to leave work early to get the kids, or pony up for child care.

There are a few minor challenges with the kids’ schedules, but it could have been much, much worse. I’ll have lots of study time each afternoon, and I will be trying to make the most of it. (I’ll be doing as much as I can AT the school, as opposed to facing distractions like laundry at home.) And I’m thrilled that I have NO 8:00 a.m. classes! Can I get an AMEN?

This is officially what the life of a mom-law student begins to look like. In case you ever wondered.

Update: Now it will be revealed to you just what a dork I am. I spent way too much time on my little visual schedule (which could change, because this schedule is unconfirmed). But I am kinda proud of it. Isn’t it pretty?

h1

‘Twas the Summer before Law School

July 1, 2010

It’s time for a new post. I’ve been riding the inertia for long enough. Besides, the volume of emails I’ve been getting from DU has picked up, so I know things are gearing up for next month. You know — the month when law school starts. (Gaahhhhh!)

Regardless of what my previous post would suggest, I actually do have a plan to prepare me for law school. The plan is to become so completely bored and disgusted with myself over my lack of routine over the summer that I am absolutely dying to go back to school, even law school. So far, it is working. Like a charm. I’ve been off schedule for less than a month and I am already going stir-crazy. I have no desire to live a life of endless, unproductive days, but sometimes I need to live a few just to remind myself of that fact. Now and then, I need to give myself reason to crave routine. It’s easy to forget when I’m busy.

The only summer task that I have left to complete is copy my immunization record and mail it to the school. Thanks to last year’s college course, I already have my MMR shots and so I don’t need to get poked this summer. A small blessing, to be sure, but a blessing nonetheless!

I am also watching for the magical money to arrive (federal student loans–thanks, Big Brother!) so that I know they will let me do this.

My orientation packet arrived in the mail today. If the schedule is any indication, it looks like four long days of very dry stuff (I know, I know, don’t say it!). But I guess Campus Safety is really important. I’ll be picking up my books and getting my student ID card and things like that, too. Nerves!!! Excitement!!! Nerves!!!

I checked webCentral and found that my first four courses have been assigned to me (or I to them — is probably more accurate). Though I still don’t know the class times (which is what I REALLY want to know), I am to be attending:

  • Civil Procedure
  • Criminal Law
  • Lawyering Process I
  • Torts

I should also take this opportunity to complain that my student ID number is 9 digits with no memorable sequence whatsoever. Usually, there’s a 2-4-8 in there, or a 3-6-9, or a 2-6-4-6 or something to latch onto. This time? Nothing. Nada. I must remember it anyway, because to DU I am not a name, I am a number.

h1

Fluff

May 19, 2010

We’ve now entered the period of waiting, the time between the tuition deposit and Orientation Week. The only law school-related item I have to share is that I took myself off CU’s waitlist. They sent me a mass email saying “be patient,” but reading between the lines, the reality is, “it’s highly unlikely.” No matter, I’d made my decision. I responded and said they may take me off their waitlist.

Another $300 tuition deposit is due June 10, and I am prepared to make that. Otherwise, I am just taking it easy. I am resting my brain. My intent is to enjoy my “Last Summer of Freedom” to the fullest. I am going to do fun things with the kids. I’m going to laze by the pool. I’m going to read books for fun. I am going to start school refreshed and rejuvenated. I’m making a conscious decision NOT to submerse myself in all things legal or school-related. There is plenty of time for that in the span of my 30-40-year career ahead of me. For now, this summer is designated “me time.” The end of an era, the beginning of a new one.

So until then, toodle-do!

h1

Top Searches 2

April 24, 2010

I’ve got quite a bit of down time for a while, as far as law school is concerned, so I thought I’d do another Top Searches post. It’s clear that most people coming to my blog are looking for information, so I’m happy to help where I can. My first Top Searches post is here, which dealt especially with missing LORs and LSAT questions.

The term “waitlist letter” or variations thereof is turning out to be the number one search topic for visitors to my blog. The waitlist letter I got from the University of Colorado is here. Feel free to leave a comment when you visit–as far as I can tell, mine is the only waitlist letter out there. As of today, I haven’t heard from them again with either an acceptance or a rejection. (I’m not planning to attend this school anyway.) CU hasn’t asked me for a letter or essay or any other work for consideration for their school, as I know some schools do.

I wish I could help visitors out with specific details of how schools’ waitlists work, but I honestly don’t know if that stuff is available on the Internet.

The term “acceptance letter” or variations thereof is my second-most popular search term. You can find the acceptance letter I got from the University of Denver here. This is the school I am attending, and I’m very excited to be joining the DU family. I’ve visited this school twice and feel very much at home there.

entry level lawyer salary
Good for you for researching this topic, as there are undoubtedly a lot of misconceptions about what attorneys make, especially newly minted ones. I posted my findings here.

personal statement for stay at home mum/mom
It’s a little intimidating to be writing a personal statement after years of staying home with the kids, but it can be done. I’m no expert, but I wrote my tips here. Let’s just hope you’ve been doing some volunteer work or something in the meantime.

do law students like sarah palin?
YES! At least, this one does. I get that most law students are liberals and therefore think they are superior to someone as successful and popular as Sarah Palin. But personally, I think she’s incredibly intelligent and talented, and I love her.

catchy thesis sentence for law school personal statement
You’re going to have to come up with your own. Because, you know, it’s personal. A catchy opening line is probably what you want, as your thesis sentence should state your purpose.

getting those last few questions right lsat
May I direct you to my side bar, where I have a few very helpful LSAT blogs listed?

i got my acceptance letter to law school
Me too!!!

hourumd.com
Another popular search. You can go to hourumd.com to find out your chances of getting into your law schools of choice.

this law has begun
Begun to …. what?

taking the lsat over age 30
The good news is, you can take the LSAT at any age! I don’t think it matters how old you are, and I don’t believe that younger test takers have an advantage. Prepare, prepare, prepare — take LOTS of practice tests. Lots of them.

how to enter law school as a mature student
The same way as any other student. You join LSAC, sign up for the LSAT (prepare, prepare, prepare!), get your letters of recommendation, write a personal statement, and apply. If you haven’t been to school in a while, you’re going to have to depend on letters of recommendation from a professional colleague or boss. For me, that was the hardest part. When it comes to the personal essay, however, I believe mature students have a strong edge over younger ones. Something about a rich life experience makes you a much more interesting person.

is 3 years a long time to be with someone
Um, no. The shortest relationship I have at the moment is 6-1/2 years, and that’s my son. However, if you’re dating someone and it’s been three years, then yes, that is a long time to be dating. Everything’s subjective, though, and I am NOT a relationship advisor.

why am i slow at analytical reasoning?
Because it’s hard. The good news is, it improves with practice. Look, I took probably about 15 practice tests total, and that still wasn’t enough. The LSAT blogs listed in my right sidebar also have a lot of good tips. A class may help you also, though I personally didn’t find it necessary. I found that once I was able to recognize the type of game it is and how to diagram it, it went a lot faster and easier.

TIP: The third game of the analytical reasoning section is almost always the hardest one. Do that game last.

157 lsat
Join the 157 club. I took the test again and got a 160. It’s worth considering.

set yourself apart from other law students
I struggled a LOT with this. I finally resorted to taking a perceived “flaw” of mine and leveraged it as a strength. Think about areas of personal struggle in your life (your “I could write a book about this” moments) and see if there’s anything there that built character or led you to the path you’re on today.

glad that something is over
Hahaha! Hello to the LSAT.

husband of a law student
Oooh, I feel bad for you. The next few years are going to be trying. If I can offer you one piece of advice, it’s this: give her the space she needs so she can focus on her work and succeed. If she’s constantly distracted by everyone else’s problems, it’s going to result in resentment on both sides at the end of the three years. At the same time, be there for her; be supportive; let her vent or cry when she needs to. Life will come back into balance again, but for now let her take center stage.

waiting law school drives me crazy
I hear you. It’s the worst part, hands down.

lsat cold score 150
The median score is 151, so you have a little work to do, depending on what law school you want to attend. If you want a Tier 1 school, you’re looking at a minimum of 160. If you’re looking at a Top 14 school, you’re looking at a minimum of 170. The good news is, with a bit of work, you can get there. My first cold score was 152 and I ended up with a 160 (I took the test twice). However, if you’re looking at a Tier 3 school, you’re in good shape.

lsac missing letter of recommendation
Oh, the story of my life. Chances are, the blame for this lies squarely on the recommender. Check with him/her first.

lonely thirty something loss
Not sure where this was going, but if you’re lonely, it’s time to volunteer. That’s the best way, bar none, to meet quality people. 

30 something law student
Oooh, someone was looking for me! Awesome! ;-) 

cu vs du law
CU is a Tier 1 school (ranked 38 in USNWR 2010, 4-way tie), while DU is a Tier 2 school (ranked 80, 6-way tie). They are the only two law schools in Colorado, which is obviously why I chose them. With my LSAT of 160 and GPA of 3.59, I was waitlisted at CU and accepted at DU with a scholarship. CU’s bar passage rate is quite a bit higher than DU’s, though it appears that in the last year CU slipped slightly while DU improved. I have never visited CU, so I don’t know about the environment of the campus. DU’s campus, however, is very warm and inviting. I immediately felt at home there. One person I talked to said that CU felt disconnected. DU’s staff is very friendly and helpful, and I think it also attracts students who are not out to cut throats in order to get ahead. I chose DU mainly because of my commute, but after visiting the campus twice, I am VERY happy with the school and I feel confident that I’ll get an excellent law education there. 

i wish i never went to law school
You were probably in it for the wrong reasons to begin with. Law school is something that I find a lot of negative feedback about on the Internet. I even had a total stranger tweet me on Twitter that I will regret going (thanks for the unsolicited advice, twerp). I think a lot of people go to law school without analyzing whether it’s a good fit for them, or without researching what a career in law is really like. It’s no surprise then, that both law school and a law career can be really disappointing.

what motivates you to go to law school
This is my favorite search term of all. It asks the question that every prospective or even current law student should be asking of themselves. Because without motivation, it can be really difficult to soldier on through something that challenging. In fact, the person from the previous search term should have asked themselves this question before wasting their time and money on law school. If you can’t answer this question, then law school is not for you.

My motivations are spelled out here and here and here:

  • I wanted a job that will stimulate me intellectually.
  • I wanted a job that will at least make as much as my husband does so that if anything happens I can support myself and kids.
  • I wanted a job that will bring me into contact with community leaders.
  • I wanted a job that will make a difference in people’s lives.
  • I may add more as time goes on.

    should i retake the lsat 163
    It depends on what law schools you want to apply to. If you’re after a Tier 2 or lower school, you’re sitting pretty. If you’re after a Tier 1 school, however, you’ll need to do a little better. A 163 can get you into CU, which is ranked 38th, but you’ll need to consider a couple of other things: a) Do you want to be one of the top incoming students, or in the middle-to-bottom? I should be in the top 50% of students going into DU, and I’m much more comfortable with that than I would be being in the bottom 25% of students going into CU. b) Do you need a scholarship? Even though I probably would have gotten into DU with my 157 LSAT score, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the scholarship I needed/wanted. My 160 score gave me that edge, and I got a scholarship that I’m very happy with. So if you feel that you can get a better score, a little extra time and another LSAT fee is worth the thousands of dollars you could get in scholarships or to that next level of school.

    du law school 158 lsat
    You shouldn’t have a problem getting in. 158 is just under their 2009 median score of 159. If you’re after a scholarship, though, I recommend shooting for a 160 if you can. Look at Law School Numbers to see how you stack up compared to other admitted students who are getting scholarships.

    lsac lor posting times
    If it takes more than a couple of weeks, check with your recommender that a) he sent the letter and b) he signed it.

    from lawyer to technical writer
    Hehe, I am going from technical writer to lawyer. I found technical writing to be an incredibly unfulfilling career, but then I’m not interested in computer technology. I will say, though, that (not having been a lawyer) I can see how the two are related and can help each other out. Technical writing certainly is a rigid and methodical way of writing. If you’re a good writer and interested in technology, it could be a great fit.

    reading comprehension is strongest on lsat
    Hate to break it to you, but that’s true for just about everyone.

    where did sarah palin go to law school
    Um, she did not go to law school, which is entirely to her credit. She majored in Journalism.