The Things Law School Really Prepares You For
Happy Halloween! This year, I contemplated dressing up as an enormous pile of student debt, but then I realized that would scare the parents more than the kids. I'll just be a zombie instead. I already have the dark circles anyway, may as well lay into it.
I thought that life after law school was going to be different. You think of law school as this long line of hurdles and hoops you have to jump over and through and sometimes some of them are on fire and sometimes you're a little on fire, but it's all going to be okay because there's a finish line at the end and once you make it there you'll be fine.
But the truth is, law school just prepares you for what this lifestyle demands of you.
Take, for example, the fact that law school constantly tells you that you're not good enough. You don't know enough, you don't understand enough, and there is always going to be something that you forgot. In most people, this would instill such a feeling of inadequacy that the crippling fear of it would keep them bedridden. But not lawyers. No, instead we take that reminder that we never know enough and we never understand enough, and we turn it into a constant drive to know, to understand, and to be better. We never assume each case we take is going to turn out like the last one because the last one we forgot that one thing and so we're not going to forget that thing this time. We're going to keep one eye behind us on what we did and one eye in front of us on the changing dynamics of the common law system that constantly tells us that the things our mentors were doing five years ago are archaic in this new landscape.
We're always "on" in law school. There isn't a time that law school doesn't invade your personal life; it becomes your life and the rest of the pieces just seem to mold around it. It's not that much different being a lawyer. My husband once asked me if I ever "turn off" and the answer is that I'm like a doctor - I might not be at the office doing my daily work, but if I am responsible to a client I am also responsible to their emergencies.
And the reading. Oh. My. God. All the fucking reading.
This is not a coincidence. We are given an exorbitant amount to read in law school because one day we will be a lawyer and will need to digest a case handed to us by opposing counsel ten minutes before we appear before a judge. One day we will have a client who comes in for a consult with a stack of paper that must be reviewed concurrently with listening to the client's own retelling of their situation. Our lives are made up of reading volumes of material regularly and being able to understand and use that information to our client's advantage.
So when you lament that law school did not prepare your the day to day realities of lawyering (hello - billing programs? where the fuck was that nonsense??) it is important to remember that those bags under your eyes are a symbol of something you fought and bled to achieve. Perhaps the scariest question I can ask you on Halloween is "was it worth it?"