Before I lose readers, please allow a preface—this is not a bitter 904-word manifesto on why no one should attend law school. It is simply a reflection of the law school dreams of a 20-something. Still interested? Read on.
I attained a graduate degree from the Missouri School of Journalism in 2012. After a selfish two years inundated in my own research and studies, I wanted to spend a year with underserved populations. This led to an AmeriCorps position at an nonprofit serving at-risk youth in a small ski town in northwest Colorado. I know. Trust me, I received the constant question flow from friends and family of, “How could there be an AmeriCorps need there?” Confession: If I denied that a gondola seconds from my backdoor didn’t ignite previously oppressed teenage dreams of ski bum-ness, I would be mendacious at best. But the truth is, poverty is everywhere. Even in ski towns in Colorado.
So the desire to help underserved populations combined with a few weeks volunteering at an orphanage in rural Kenya led me to reflect on poverty in more depth. Which led to cogitating domestic and international policy. Which led to considering impact. Which led to law. The connections seemed fluent in my mind and the idealist part of my heart nearly “trampolined” out of my chest. As soon as my feet touched American soil, I ordered LSAT practice tests and reached out to my lawyer and law student friends. I had a newfound blossoming relationship with law school. I was smitten.
Standardized tests are to me what the German soccer team is to Brazilian defense. I took the GRE three times before being accepted to grad school. Each exam concluded with me in near tears and another generous donation to the Educational Testing Service. Eventually, I think the admissions committee felt sorry for me. Nevertheless, I plowed ahead. The LSAT was scheduled for November. Perfect timing for me to take heaps of practice tests, apply for fall 2013 entrance deadlines, and complete a year serving at-risk youth in Colorado. Splendid.
Sparing you the excruciating details of a frantic search through Boulder, Colorado, for an establishment open at 7:33 a.m. on a Saturday and No. 2 pencils, I somehow received an LSAT score worthy of acceptance and scholarships to a few schools. I was set. No embarrassing dialogues about why “law school just isn’t for me.”
HEY LAW SCHOOL, WANT TO GRAB COFFEE?
And so I continued the pursuit with the law school dating game. The advice I constantly received was if I couldn’t get into an NYU, Columbia, or Harvard (I couldn’t), go where I wanted to be geographically. I set my sights on western states. I dated around to find a good match. This led to a Pacific Northwest university. As far as I could tell, this companion had it all—international law, culture, rain, sushi and coffee. My audacious Midwestern brain (and heart) was near combustion with overwhelming stimulation.
LAW SCHOOL MEETS THE FAMILY
In May, after my $250 deposit (Remember, I have been serving America at the poverty level for almost a year—$250 is significant.), I decided to really introduce my chosen law school and this path to family and friends—especially current law students.
The gleaming reviews of this budding adoration:
One friend said: “The legal market is still terrible and people go into law school, go into $100,000-$200,000 of debt, and then some can’t even find a job afterwards.”
Another: “International law, for the most part, is working with big corporations/businesses, it’s about making money, there are few legal jobs that have anything to do with human rights.”
Again: “You will most likely have to work big corporate law for a while to pay off the $100,000 to $200,000 of debt you will have.”
I felt as though I was going to embark on a mission akin to Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. My romanticized dreams wavered.
The one positive: “Law school has opened my eyes to how much need there is for good lawyers in America.”
A flicker of hope to salvage this fledging relationship.