Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Staying Firm on Decisions

Thanks to everyone who gave great advice on what to do with the living situation. We've decided to move, across the street! (The house with more bedrooms for an extra 200 a month.) It's just too great to pass up, and we really are strapped for space here. One of Abigail's favorite things is to rip paper up and destroy books, so having a room I can keep her out of will be very helpful.

Even better (and further evidence things work out for a reason) is that we found someone to finish out our lease and they are probably going to be our new best friends! They have a daughter not much older than Abby, and the two are already having fun playing together. The woman is a genetics fellow at the university (same as where Brian works in science as well) so we have that in common. The man stays home with the daughter while finishing his dissertation in music. They like board games and sports and have already asked if we were interested in playing games sometime. Heck yeah! We don't know any other parents in our area so this is awesome, plus since we'll be right across the street we know where to go for Abby to have a playdate. The relief of this is huge for me, because I know Abigail needs more socialization. Law school will be hard enough without constantly worrying about her.

A while back I read an article about things you should do if you go to law school. It originally came from here but I snagged it from here. One of the things in the advice was to get in shape before school starts because "law school is the land of coffee and pizza." I thought that was hilarious but I know it is true. When I toured the school the ambassador told me they often have free food there for one event or another so we'll never go hungry. I've been seriously miserable about how much weight I've gained since my brother-in-law died, and intent on losing it. I've joined a gym temporarily (the school has an excellent one just one building over from the law building) and so far I've already lost 3 pounds! Only about 30 more to go. Or 20. I'm not really sure how much to lose. I know my "normal" weight may be different than it used to be since I've had a baby, so I am not going to push it beyond what my body considers normal. As long as I'm maintaining and healthy, I am going to be happy.

Speaking of staying firm on decisions, I sure have read a lot of horribly negative blawgs lately about how no one should ever go to law school. They refer to bottom tier schools as "toilets" and say even those attending better schools are totally screwed. I'm new to the blawg world so I'm sure the whole "toilet" thing is probably normal and common, but it's all just SO negative. Half the ones I read are so bitter I don't get a good impression of the writer. It almost feels like they just couldn't hack it so they blame the "establishment." I've also read quite a few that explain my reaction to the bitterness as my own egotism. Yep, I think I'm better and smarter than all of them and therefore they can be as negative and bitter as they want and if it bugs me then well it's my own bloated ego driving me to feel that way.

I'm not ignorant or naive, I know the market sucks. I know there are hundreds of lawyers out there not practicing law or who are desperately trying to find a job and can't. However, I also know a lot of people in my area who are finding success. I know the market is coming back up and I am seeing an increase of job postings. I also know enough about myself to believe that by the time I graduate I WILL find a job. I've made good money in my career thus far, so I have something to go back to and a legal education could be a bonus, even if I'm paying for it.

Luckily, I have a deadly combination of in-state tuition and discounted tuition since Brian's an employee. I think that will help me borrow less, and maybe once I'm done if I don't have the ideal job I can get by easier knowing I have less to pay back. *sigh* We'll see, but I am determined to do this because I think I was born for it, bad economy or not.

One blawg pointed out how schools in Home State "heavily rely" on the local religious population to "fill seats." Not true, but they were right about the local religion's networking. They are tight knit, it's true and you can definitely use those connections. I am not part of the religion, but having been raised and worked in the community I do see an advantage. Maybe this will help me beat the "law school scam" too.

I hope so, because I don't want to be bitter too.

I've often commented on "technical" schools that you see ads for on TV. And massage therapy schools. And "medical professional" schools. And paralegal schools. All of these are saturating the market while simultaneously SCREWING their students with huge tuition and IN-HOUSE LENDING at ridiculous rates.

I plan on borrowing only federal low-rate (non-credit based) loans and avoiding private loans. I think I'm really lucky there too.

I feel bad for those who have come before me who've been screwed by lower-tier schools. Most Home State law grads do stay in Home State, so perhaps I'll get lucky and be able to avoid competing with all those "toilet" graduates.

The whole things sucks, and I am not trying to criticize the underground movement to change the system, it is just a bit of a shock to read it all. Plus it makes me feel bad to read that by not taking their advice (and running like hell) I'm just using my overly huge inflated head.

Thanks again to everyone, it's awesome to find more blawgers in various stages of the process.


  1. I wrote on this topic previously:

    The snootier bunch sees anything not in the top 14 as being third tier toilet. The reality is, you want to balance the cost of your education with the quality of your education, and paying crazy high tuition for a mediocre school is absurd. Thus, the third tier toilet scam.

    For instance, why would you EVER pay $45K a year for some mediocre school like Seton Hall, Mercer or Cooley? If your diploma doesn't say "Yale," "Harvard," or "Chicago," it wasn't worth $45K a year, considering your first job (or second or third job) out of law school won't pay that much in a year. But that goes for higher ranked schools too. With your in-state tuition and discount, why would you ever go somewhere like, oh, I dunno, Wake Forest or Duke, even if they're ranked much higher, where you'd come out owing a bazillion dollars? (Not to mention DUKE SUCKS.)

    Now, certainly, my school, recently ranked 64th, wasn't worth the price tag either, and our in-state tuition was $15K / year. It might be ranked, but it definitely belongs in the toilet.

    We're bitter, because we go in bright eyed and eager thinking law school will be this amazing experience where we work really hard and, you know, like, learn law and stuff. Instead, it's 3 years of total time-wasting bullshit, and you come out not *knowing* law, but only how to "learn law." Yeah, that's stupid. So, then you have to pay another $3K for the bar review course to actually find out what the law is in your jurisdiction. You still have pretty much no clue how to actually practice law. Which is okay since the job market is so bad, you'll be lucky to even get to practice law.

    I think the difference is, if you go in realizing it sucks, and you don't buy into the bullshit or take it OH SO SERIOUSLY, you're a lot happier for it. You put up with the bullshit and pay the crazy tuition, because you really want to be a lawyer. It's simply the rite of passage to become a lawyer, a means to an end.

  2. Thanks Proto! I am going to post again today after I've calmed down a bit. I kept reading well into the night last night and got really freaked out. I am much more sympathetic (and willing to listen to) those "bitter" souls who've come before me. I think my post was still entirely too naive and judgmental sounding. I took a lot more to heart than it appeared.

  3. I'm 10 years out of law school and no one ever asks where I went. And I went to "top 100" school. I only know that because my alumni newsletter just told me.

    It doesn't matter unless you want to work for biglaw. I didn't and I don't and I'm fine.

  4. Your post made me smile because I thought the same thing about the bitter people. "oh, law school can't be THAT bad" "they must not be that smart, couldn't make it" etc.

    The fact of the matter is that law school sucks. If you go in knowing that, or realize it very soon on, then you can deal with it and move on. I almost left in the middle of my first semester. A professor told me that she thought if I just accepted law school for what it is I'd be a lot happier. She was right.

    As for the debt... It is what it is I guess. I had a 1/2 tuition scholarship all three years and I'm still looking at monthly payments the size of a mortgage. Everyone is in the same spot. Like Proto said, it's kind of a rite of passage.

    I think a lot of people want to save the world and change lives on the first day. It's easy to lose sight of why you're in class and studying every free moment. This past year I wrote myself a note to remember that graduating from law school was my biggest dream. If you can keep your eyes on the prize (wanting to be a lawyer) then it will at least be bearable.

    So, I guess the point is... it will be an experience that only other law students can relate to, and it will suck more often than it wont, but after the first year you're just kinda used to it and before you know it you'll be graduating and angrily sending huge checks to barbri.