About a week ago, this time, four years ago, I almost dropped out of law school.
|The days before the first day –
b/c we already had homework.
It was the day before veterans day weekend, 1L year. I was in Torts. I do not remember what exactly set me over the edge. It was 3:00 and I was in a class where the professor always had us analyze with our “group” aka the people next to us. I knew that would be coming, and I could definitely feel the tears coming. I hated it there. I hated the law school process. I could not stand several of the people in my classes who were completely ignorant as to the world because they had been spoiled rotten their whole lives. I felt like I never had time to sleep or else I was going to fail. I had lost contact with almost all of my friends and family.
So, at 3:15, I had slowly packed up my entire bag except my laptop. When the professor said “talk to your group,” I got up, and walked toward the door. She met me there. I told her, “I am having a family emergency.” She told me to wait outside. So I did. (Luckily for me I had my breakdown during a class of a really nice professor, because it could have gone differently.)
She came out a few minutes later – presumably during another “talk to your group” moment. I remember the exact words out of her mouth, “OK, tell me what’s really going on.” And so I did, “I hate it here. I want to drop out. I can’t do this anymore.”
I was flying home later that evening and she set up a time for me to go home, finish packing, and meet with her before I went to the airport.
I sat in her office and cried. I was serious. I was done with law school. I had worked since I was about 10 years old to be a lawyer. Granted, at 10, 12, 15, 18 I still did not know what that really meant. I just knew I needed to study hard and get good grades. So I did.
I expected law school to be different. I had envisioned a doctoral program where people sat around and discussed intelligent concepts, philosophical beliefs, analytical thoughts. I also went to a private, catholic university. I am not catholic, but I am christian. I expected to be surrounded by people who shared my beliefs and values.
Before I got to know my amazing law school friends (aka before Thanksgiving 1L year), I will tell you how I thought the people in law school were:
- ignorant to people (like me) who were first generation college students/grew up poor/were not at fault for not having money
- racist (mostly in the form of saying it was their fault for being poor)
- concerned with money and possessions and not caring about each other
- willing to push anyone under the bus if it meant they got the answer right/best grade
I explained all of this to my professor, box of tissue in my hands. It was not for me. It was not what I expected.
She told me to go home, talk to my family, and mourn what I thought law school was going to be – because she was sure that if I accepted it for what it was, I would actually like it. She also told me that the people I thought were “everyone” were just the loud mouths (she used a different word). There were good quality people who cared about school and each other and humanity, with good values.
So, I did. I went home and told my family I was dropping out. And you know what they (mostly) said?
- Whatever makes you happy.
- We love you no matter what.
I had entered law school under so much pressure to be perfect. To finish strong. To be top of my class. And then I heard that they loved me anyway.
As you can probably guess, I did not drop out. I stayed. I spent Thanksgiving outlining in the library. I started to get to know my “group” better. And let me tell you, I wouldn’t trade these girls for the world.
*please note we aged about 10 years in 3. thanks law school.
Yes, law school was hell most of the time. But it was worth it. Yes, I felt like I left my life behind when I walked through those doors. But it was worth it.
Bar exam nightmare aside. 12 hour days to meet billing aside. Being a slave to $$ so I can pay off my student loans aside.
So, if you are thinking about dropping out of law school, really think it through. Do you want to be a lawyer? Do you like the classes that are actually ABOUT being a lawyer (ie Legal Research and Writing)? I promise you that not one day as a real life lawyer will look like a day of law school. Never once has my boss walked into my office and practiced some socratic method on me. Not once have I turned to my old law school books (except my blue book) to look up a legal concept.
Because the good thing about law school is that time flies while you’re being tortured. Those three years will be over before you know it.
If you’re still freaking out you can email me @ wheremysoulbelongs [at] gmail [dot] com. There are also a ton of other bloggers around here that have fabulous insights into law school/the life of a lawyer on their pages. I would namely recommend Aime or LL for people who went to law school and lived to tell about it.