Archive for the ‘Decisions’ Category

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.

Advertisements
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

Jump on that train

March 29, 2010

The train lumbers to a stop and lets me out. I don’t even cast a glance back at the tired-looking people in their button-downs and khakis. I sniff the fresh air and step into the open, smiling at my choice of stops. I am home. I am where I belong.

After a while, though, I begin to miss that train. I don’t really want to get back on, but I look at it longingly from time to time. Some good times were had on that train. Things were accomplished there. It was going somewhere. This spot is beginning to feel a bit dull. If that train leaves, I’ll be trapped here forever with no sense of destination.

The whistle blows and the train slowly grinds toward the next destination. Panic. What should I do? Get back on the train or stay here? I like it here. But I’m being left behind. Some of my friends are on that train. They’re going on without me, towards their futures. Where is my future? What does it look like? The train picks up a little speed, and I jog next to it, debating what to do. Don’t leave me behind!

I take a closer look at the cars. Some are filled with smiling moms and laughing babies. Others are filled with men and women in power suits with phones glued to their ears. Some are filled with adventurers and travelers. That one looks cool, I’d like that. The next car I see is one filled with people with a clear sense of purpose on their faces. They all look different–some are in doctors’ clothes, some are in hippie clothes, some are in those god-awful sweaters with apples that teachers sometimes wear, some are in suits, others are not. But they all have found meaning in what they are doing. THAT’s the car I want to ride in. I jump on and hang tight. This train is faster than I thought! Looks like I got on just in time.

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

Life is like a train, and you’re either on it or you’re not. What that train looks like varies from person to person, but you either feel like you’re on the train or you’ve been left behind.

That’s how I would describe my journey towards law school. Even though I didn’t decide to go for it until a year ago, I’ve been off the train for several years.

I got off the train by choice, because I didn’t like the car I was riding in. And I admit, I enjoyed the rest, the slowing down, the being present. For a time. When I first got off, it was like, “WOW, I needed this!” After a while, though, I got restless. Fidgety. Bored. Unsatisfied. The train was moving out of the station, and I wasn’t on it.

On December 28, 2001, I quit my technical writing job to become a stay-at-home mom. My daughter was almost three and I was pregnant with my second child, and as a young mom, I desperately wanted to do the right thing and be there for my kids, 24/7. To this day, I believe it was the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons. I have never regretted turning away from a career I didn’t really like in order to raise my kids myself. My daughter had been in day care for nearly three years and I swore I would never put a child in day care again — and I didn’t.

In the following years I began to build relationships with other moms and attend things like MOPS and playgroups. It didn’t take long to realize I didn’t have much in common with the other moms, though. While they seemed to find endless conversations about potty training, sleep habits and birthday parties to be fascinating, I longed for friends I could carry on serious conversations with.

I really hit my stride when my oldest daughter started Kindergarten. I met a lot of different types of moms at that time, many of them through the Girl Scout troop I started to lead. Some of them worked, part- or full-time, some of them didn’t. Most of them were older than me, some by quite a lot. Many had older children or had blended families. And since that time, I’ve been very content with my social life, and I believe that being a SAHM helped me develop my best friendships that I would have missed out on if I’d been working.

But as my kids got older, I felt that train starting to pull out of the station. It was slow at first. I looked for things to do, hobbies to take up, freelance work to fill my time. When my son (my youngest) started preschool, I decided to take a part-time job not only to help pay for the school, but also to get me out of the house. I was going stir-crazy. By that time, I knew that domestic bliss was not for me. I hate cooking and cleaning. I love reading and thinking and analyzing. I was sick of not feeling productive. I have to get out of the house every day or I start to feel trapped and isolated. As my kids were getting older, I knew it was time to get on that train.

The train really started picking up speed about two years ago. It was a difficult time because even though I knew I wanted to get back on the train, I didn’t know which car to pick. I wanted to finish my bachelor’s, but then what? Work or more school? The economy sort of helped with that decision. There are few to no jobs in writing/editing right now anyway, even if I did want to pick that car, which I didn’t. So then, what type of degree to get? One year ago from now, I was in a Brit Lit class and loving every minute of it. I was back on the train, and it really felt good.

As I sifted through my few options for grad school, I really questioned whether I was crazy to even think I could do law school. But it was sort of making sense. I mean, I learned from Bit Lit that I’m a very good reader and good at analyzing. I am very interested in politics and follow it fairly closely and I’ve always been curious about how our laws affect our freedoms. While I hate creative writing, I learned that I can write a good essay and complex writing doesn’t intimidate me like it used to.

And then, I told myself, I am just as smart as those people and smarter than a lot of others, so if they can do it, why couldn’t I? I’m no genius, but I’m smart and I’m a hard worker. Dumber people have done a lot more with a lot less.

I’ve picked my car and I’m back on the train. I’ll be honest, I’m still terrified that I picked the wrong car. But I’m on the train. I’m excited about that, and it feels great!

h1

Three years is NOT a long time

March 27, 2010

This is what I tell myself alllll the time. Of course, because I am old(er) I know this to be true.

My youngest child is 6-and-a-half. How the hell did that happen? Where did the time go, and more importantly, when did I get so old?

Time flies, and three years is just a blip. My eldest child is graduating from elementary school in June, for pete’s sake, and I’m pretty sure she was born only about 3 years ago.

Of course, as any mother knows, when you find out you’re pregnant, nine months is literally an eternity. Hindsight be damned, the nine months of pregnancy are the longest months. of. your. life.

Then the baby has colic, and the doc says, “Oh, babies usually outgrow it by the time they’re three months old.” And if you’ve ever had a colicky baby, you know that three months filled with a screaming baby might as well be thirty years.

And then the baby starts teething. They teethe until they are TWO YEARS OLD, people! They cry, they fuss, they drool. They throw tantrums. Fun, fun, fun.

Then it’s time to potty train the baby. And believe me, by the end of the first day (or week, or month), mom is asking herself if her child will ever go in the potty, and if he will be the only one in diapers in his Kindergarten class.

The first three years of a child’s life are the longest three years of a mother’s life. Sure, it speeds up extra fast after that, to make up for lost time I suppose, but many times you feel like you will never reach that next important milestone.

I’m assuming law school will be nothing like this. Right? Right???

h1

NY Times article

January 19, 2010

There’s a buzz on Twitter about an article that the New York Times recently published regarding the legal profession; I’m assuming about new law school graduates in particular.

I’m assuming, because I refuse to read that article. Sure, I like to be well-informed, but at this time, I need encouragement, not discouragement. I have heard bad news for lawyers floating around, but guess what? It’s bad news for just about everybody but nurses right now. That’s life.

I’ve also heard that it’s not as bad as they make it out to be.

The bottom line is, I didn’t consult the New York Times when making my decision to go to law school. I consulted my professor, who knows what kind of student I am. I consulted my parents, who know what kind of person I am. I consulted my husband, who knows what kind of ambitions I have. Most of all, I dug deep and asked myself if I can do this–and my heart said “Yes.”

No doomsday prophets for me, thank you! I’ll manage just fine.

Update: One great thing about working at Target is that I’m face-to-face, hand-to-hand with real humanity every day. Do law school grads really have it so bad in the jobs market? I’m sure it’s tough out there. I’m not denying that.

But you know, it’s just heart-breaking when a middle-aged man walks into Target wearing a worn sport coat practially begging for a job, then spends an hour at the application kiosk knowing that his chances of getting a job in January in the retail business are slim-to-none. Even if he did get hired, he’d start at $8/hour.

Lots of people are wearing their best clothes just for walking in and asking if we are hiring. When the few interviews do happen, you can tell they are ready to lay everything on the line. And this is for an $8/hour job.

Update II: Here is an encouraging article from Stanford regarding new graduates’ prospects. Here’s a concept: think more creatively about your law career!

h1

Thanks for the input, but…

June 3, 2009

I’ve noticed something very interesting happening, now that friends and family know of my intentions to go to law school.

First of all, not only does everyone, to a man (or woman), think it’s a fabulous idea, but they also love asking me about it. No one was terribly interested when I took my literature course this past semester, but everyone is fascinated by the prospect of law school. It actually troubles me a little bit; maybe I should have kept my mouth shut until things were more definite. I confess, I’ve had my moments of doubt since I decided to go this route, and it’s not too late to back out now. But even so, what if I don’t get admitted? It’ll all end there, and then I’ll be forced to tell everyone about it.

I’m just very intrigued by the fact that the people in my life are so intrigued by my attending law school. What is it to them, exactly?

Secondly, I’ve found that several folks seem to have their own ideas of what I should do with my law degree, once I get it. The husband has already decided on my behalf that I should be a corporate lawyer. His employer employs hundreds, if not thousands, of lawyers, and that seems like the ideal situation to him. Working in the corporate world at lawyer’s rates — what could be better?

Frankly, if I wanted to spend my days going through contracts with a fine-tooth comb, I’d stay in the editing business. I can’t imagine anything more tedious than that.

And I don’t want to be a litigation lawyer. I’m not interested in enriching myself by enriching or defending corporations.

Then I have a friend who thinks what this country needs is someone to reform the health insurance industry, and who better than … a new lawyer? It’s a subject she’s passionate about, and I certainly can agree that reform is needed, even though we disagree as to the how. But it’s not my passion, it’s hers.

So that leads to the question: what do I want to do with my law degree? It’s been difficult for even myself to answer, because I’m open to a lot of things. My absolutely ideal, dream job would be to work on behalf of Christian civil rights. I would love to be a counterpoint to organizations like the ACLU, and push back some of the evil they have worked against Christians (and conservatives) in the courts. I would be delighted to work for someone like the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), whose stated mission is to protect religious and constitutional freedoms.

I think we need some talented, smart, conservative lawyers in this country, and I would be honored to be that person.

That would be my ideal job. If that doesn’t pan out, I’m open to other things. Mostly, I’m interested in International Law and government/politics. But you know what? When the time comes, I may have to take what I can get.

One thing’s for sure, though: I won’t be conforming to anyone else’s notions of what I should do with my career. I will follow my own heart.