Legal Quandary

Friday, February 18, 2005

No, There Ain't No Cure for The Second Year Blues...

Warning. Whiny, apathetic post ahead.

It's been one of those days. Actually, lately, they ALL seem to be one of those days. Everyday I find myself wondering what the hell happened to me.

Law school has been - more or less - a wretched experience for me. Part of it is coming to the realization that 1) I'm not as smart as I thought I was and 2) I'm not as smart as many (the majority?) of my classmates. I know "they" tell you it's going to be that way when you start law school - but c'mon - didn't everyone else think "oh - they're not talking to me" too? I guess the thing is that I don't necessarily think that many of these people actually are smarter than I am. They just have a better ability to parrot back the information the professor is wanting to hear in the form he or she wants to hear it. And yes, I totally get that that's what you're doing when you go to court - tailoring an argument to the judge. But some of these people are also just not nice people. Everyone has their snarky moments, but some of these folks have nothing but snark. And sometimes it really drives me nuts that this is the behavior we reward. That these are the people who are going to get those great jobs, and clerkships, and the monetary rewards that go with them.

I think part of the problem is that I don't really love "the law." I've always seen law school as the only way I can get the information and gain admission to the club that will let me help people. When I was on active duty, the absolute best part of my job was having an airman come to me, tell me he was having a problem with the finance office, the housing office, or whatever, and for me to be able to help him out. I saw the work the Air Force Legal office did - and I thought, this is what I am supposed to be doing. And yes, I believe that sometimes it's necessary to kick people out of the Air Force - and that in most cases this does both parties a service. Obviously, there are exceptions.

At any rate - back to the law school aspect. I have so many classmates who can wax theoretical about sundry Constitutional issues. Who love a good discussion about Erie. Who would like nothing better than to debate the implications of the Madisonian compromise. I'm not one of them. I know the concepts are important. But it's not what intrigues me about being an attorney. I wanted to do this because people would come to me for answers. Not about all of that stuff, but about real-life, every day problems. And I could help them.

So, I find myself exactly halfway through law school. We're moving somewhere this summer - we don't know where yet. Obviously, I won't have a summer job, and I don't think my husband totally gets that this is not exactly a good thing. I can't apply to schools because I don't even know where we'll be living in just over 4 months. I'm stressed about tuition at a different school. And about paying off the student loans. Because I also know we'll be moving 3 years after we get to our mystery location, and then 3 years after that. I can't think of many employers who would be excited to see me coming, knowing that I'll be leaving again. And I don't see how I have any chance of ever really advancing my career in this situation. Which makes me seriously start to question whether I've been wasting my time.

I used to be fun. People used to think I was attractive. And smart. And funny. And nice. And I really miss all of that. My husband and I used to spend time together. These days, it's just a toss-up as to which one of us is going to fall asleep on Little Q's floor while putting her to bed. I've been trying all week to schedule time with my husband because I want to talk to him about the possibility of going back on active duty once I graduate. And I can't even get that to happen.

I feel like law school has aged me about 10 years. I feel like I've lost a lot of my "niceness." And I'm not sure I like who or what I've become. Maybe things will go back to normal once school is over - but what if they don't? Am I doomed to a life of feeling like I wasted a good career in order to blow a ton of money on a degree I'm never going to get to use? Will the Elder Child understand the amount of stress I've been under and forgive the fact that I rarely spend time with her anymore, and when I do, I'm not much fun? Will my husband and I ever reconnect? Will he "remember" to buy me a birthday present next year? Because I have to admit, it hurt like hell to be forgotten this year.

So there it is in all its disjointed glory. I'd really appreciate any comments, questions, or ideas. Sympathy is not necessary, but always appreciated.

Does a hug count as sympathy?

Please don't quit. The legal profession and the Air Force need people like you.

If you lose faith, your are leaving everything to the snarks, and that's depressing. You're better that that, and not because you can or can't parrot back what a professor wants to hear.

I did law school back in the 70s. I positively KNEW I wasn't as smart as 90% of my classmates. I mean, I *knew* it. By the time it was over, I graduated exactly in the middle of my class, which means that about half of those geniuses were doing worse than I was. One thing law students are good at is making you think you're dumber than they are. Trust me, you probably aren't.
You know, LQ, it will get better. It really will. Your values haven't changed, your perspective and views haven't even changed. Only your circumstances have temporarily changed. I know for certain that I'm in the bottom quarter of people in my class as far as "smarts" go, but I also know that I'll get through and I will be able to use what I've learned (or, in many cases, be better prepared at that point to really learn) to help the people I had in mind when I came here.

You will find the time for your family. They are important and you've not lost sight of that. If the time comes where you have to make a decision about doing an assignment or spending quality time with your husband or baby, choose the latter once in a while and screw the former -- even if it means your grade is at risk.
You come across as a loving and committed person. You won't law school take that from you, I'm sure of it.
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