Thursday, February 10, 2005


I have nothing funny to say today I think. I was grouchy all day because I had to reformat all my spreadsheets for work (skipping one class AND lunch in the process), and everything all day was just irritating the crap out of me. And apparently at least one person noticed.

My mom...well, technically she didn't notice, but she still called today. I talked to my dad yesterday about work and law school and my life and how overwhelmed I have been feeling, and he apparently told my mom he was worried and she should call me (this is how we handle emotions in our's like a game of mental health hot potato). So anyway, she called and we actually had a great conversation and I made her laugh a little and she said that made her feel like I was doing OK, because I was hanging onto my sense of humor.

We were talking about my future as a lawyer, and how I'm feeling about it now. I've made no secret on this blog about my desire to not foreclose other avenues of employment besides just being a prototypical lawyer. I am open to just about any career that uses at least some portion of my education and that I can be happy doing, at least most of the time. I'm not expecting career nirvana or anything, but I know that I am not the kind of person that can do a good job when I hate what I'm doing (ahem....let me introduce Exhibit One: LAW SCHOOL).

I told her that I've been really trying to tell myself that this whole experience isn't about one grade or another, but to hopefully actually get something from this education that is useful (or at least fulfilling in SOME way, no matter how nebulously connected to reality). I'm not always successful, but I really do *want* to be able to think about law school in a way that doesn't include me hating myself for not always being great at it or "getting" it.

I wonder *why* we, as students and consumers of legal education, stand for the system being the way it is. Unfocused, impractical in many ways, outdated...some people use it as an elongated bar preparation course, some use it for their own personal ego fulfillment, and some (like me maybe) are just swimming against the current most of the time and trying to stay above water despite the mental nagging of the drowning victim..."give up...just let go...quit even know you'll never make it."

For the people who excel at law school, I would guess the validation that comes from that from peers, employers, and society at large is probably pretty gratifying. For the people who do pretty well and know exactly what they want to do and are fulfilling a lifelong dream, well, it's probably pretty motivational and validating to them as well. Is it wrong to not be in one of those categories though? Not Wrong but just wrong. Why do the other students seem so hateful if you aren't either doing brilliantly (funny how, despite the fact that there's a curve, *everyone* seems to be "at the top of the class", isn't it?), or super-motivated towards a socially accepted goal? Is it somehow better to be making mediocre grades but be passionately dedicated to abolishing the death penalty? If I am treated like I'm stupid because I don't do great all the time, could I somehow transform that with a stroke of the "valuable social cause" paintbrush? "Yes, I know you were totally acting like a huge dick to me when you just thought I was just regular stupid, but I thought maybe if you knew my main goal in life was saving baby orphans and old people and the whales and chaining myself to old growth forest, you would be willing to think of me in a whole different light?"

I know a huge part of this is perception. My school isn't any different than many other schools, and the students are probably similar to those at many other schools too...although I will hazard a guess that due to the EXTREMELY liberal nature of this city, and the fact that the school is even more so, perhaps the ratio of students at my school with a seriously entrenched political agenda is greater than at other schools. Most people I've actually gotten to know personally have turned out to be great people. Do doctors have this kind of contention with each other during school? What about other professions? People always say that part of the reason law school breeds all this stress and whatnot is that it prepares us for the adversarial nature of the legal system. Would it be better to prepare us to ethically and professionally collaborate with each other to achieve a specific result or outcome, like the efficient management of the legal system itself?

Anyway, I have no answers (or a point apparently)...I'm just ruminating...because that's what I do around here. I am tentatively planning on taking an extremely light quarter in Spring and perhaps getting back some of my long-lost mental health. I'm also going to buy this book I saw somewhere (I'll link when I remember) about alternative jobs you can do with a legal degree. YAY!
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