Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sense of Purpose

So, this week (in fact in 36 minutes) is the OCI (On Campus Interviews) application deadline. This means that some employers, (not many because it's Spring) are coming on campus to interview some (very few) 1L's for summer internships. People are losing their minds. Seriously. It's disheartening to see them all jumping through hoops and panicking. And I feel completely guilty because I decided to shun the whole process and do my own thing, and it paid off.

A while ago I went in to meet with the professional development office. They look over your resume and cover letters and give you advice about where to apply. I was disappointed in their suggestions for the types of jobs I was interested in. I do not want to work for a big firm. I do not want to do litigation. I do not want to work 60-100 hours a week. I want to spend time with my family. I do not want to make millionz of dollarz, or whatever the kids are calling it these days. I want to do public interest or government and I do not want to leave my daughter for 8 weeks to do an internship in D.C. You'd think that would be pretty limiting, but once I decided to find my own path I not only felt liberated, I felt empowered.

The problem with the employment offices in law school is they spend 99% of their time helping 1% of the class. They gear everything toward Big Law (and the firms that to my best guess have either donated money or something equally sexy to buy the school's devotion) and the reality is those firms only hire the very people who do not need help. If you're in the top 10%, you don't need someone out hunting down internships. The ones that come TO the school are looking for them, not people like me who are basically average on paper.

So, to that end, I started spamming lawyers who are members of an organization I belong to. It's a great group and they all practice in the area I'm most interested in. I wasn't interested in settling for something I didn't want, and I didn't want to feel limited by OCI (which the school admits will likely not interview me and even if they do most of them aren't going to hire anyone at all.)

I received a response within 12 hours, WITH an offer for the summer. The attorney liked my initiative. He had only ever been approached by a potential intern once before.

Seeing my poor classmates scrambling to get their OCI applications done and panicking about whether to use a colon or a semicolon on their cover letter hurts me. I want to shout to them "THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO GET A JOB!!!" but it will probably do no good. The thing is, the single authority on campus who helps you find jobs is just doing what they know how to do best, which is recruit for big firms. It's a numbers game and the reality is most of us won't fall into the range firms are looking for, and most are only taking 1-3 interns this year anyway. AND they're accepting applications from all over the country.

Why waste your time? Unless Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe is your dream job, go out on your own and find your own path. There are plenty of firms (so many that the market is flooded, I hate to say) and therefore plenty of places to apply that aren't the 8 showing up at OCI.

As for me, I went and met with my new boss. He just hired a seasoned former prosecutor from the AG's office, to whom I will be reporting. He hired this prosecutor to work on civil rights cases. I am so excited.

AND he asked me about returning next summer for a paid clerkship. I have no pressure now, I can just focus on school and ignoring PDO emails, while looking forward to the summer and the people I am going to help. Oh, and I just picked up a pro bono case which is my state's equivalent of a habeas corpus case. I am really excited for that as well. WHOO!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1L Grades

You know that feeling on Christmas morning, after all the presents have been opened? There's wrapping paper everywhere, you've eaten a huge breakfast, and now you just feel... disappointed? I've been told that is the definition of anticlimactic, but that's debatable. Not everyone has the same Christmas, or celebrates Christmas at all, but I'm sure you get the idea.

That is how grades felt for me. I told myself I was going to get B's, (by B's I mean just somewhere between a B- and a B+.) It's a statistical probability, given that most people do, and very few get A's and C's. So that's what I told myself. Why stress about it if you already know what you're going to get?

When I got sick over Finals, that probability seemed to go out the window. I was so high on NyQuil I couldn't even REMEMBER my Contracts final. Something about an airplane? I dunno. I left feeling miserable and uncertain. Never in my life had I felt so blindsided by an exam. Normally you know what to expect when you show up to an exam. I had to skip the first page and come back. I changed my answers several times on the multiple choice. These things I remember, (and have subsequently stressed out over) but the actual exam is lost forever. Being so uncertain (and not remembering the exam) had me kind of nervous. The thought of getting a C felt horrible.

So anyway, I told myself I was going to get B's. And that's what I got. I did much better in legal research, but of course that doesn't count toward your average. OYE. I'm told that employers often ask what grade you got in that class, so at least I have a good answer.

Getting what you expect, with no surprises, is the anticlimactic part. I did fine. Good, even. Not great. I'm disappointed only because I expected the grade fairy to come along and change the past or something. I'm happy, but I feel sort of blah about it.

Luckily, I've already got an internship lined up for the summer so grades at this point are inconsequential. I want to do Moot Court, not Law Review. And in any case I can write my way onto Law Review (I'm told that looks better than grading on anyway) if I want, so again grades aren't that big of a deal.

My point is, all that worrying or stressing does you no good. You can't change your grades, but they can't change you either. Let it go, focus on the new semester. These grades do not define you. The reality is, you will graduate, you will pass the bar and you'll be a lawyer. That is the point of law school, isn't it? So just focus on actually learning the black letter law and regardless of what grades you get, you will be a lawyer when you are done.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The End of Everything?

Is tomorrow the end of everything? The beginning? The first day of the rest of my life? Despite comfort given and statements to the contrary, there is a general feeling that the release of your first 1L grades will change your life forever. Everything is riding on this. Your career, your sanity, your future as a lawyer, your future as a law student. It's such a big deal they have shrinks in place for dealing with breakdowns. School officials are trying their best to soothe everyone, while simultaneously telling us we have to wait until AFTER class on Friday to get our grades. So here is my personal theory on 1L grades.

The reality is that these grades will potentially affect the job you get for this summer, which in turn potentially affects your future jobs. Five years from now? It's probably not going to matter at all. Most people aren't going to get into Big Law, which means being top of your class might look pretty on a resume but it's unlikely anyone's going to ask. At some point in your career it will probably look pretentious to talk about it.

Here is my real concern: things are going to change. All year the faculty have commented on how great our class is. We all get along. We laugh, even during exam week. We're not overly cliquey, and we seem willing to help each other out. We're not overly competitive, either, at least not out loud. Professors keep commenting that everything will change once our first grades come out. New cliques will form. Old ones will break up. Friendships will be strained. The idea of this makes me miserable, because it's been such a great environment so far. It's hard to imagine it changing. There isn't anyone I don't like and as far as I know (even though I can be a tad annoying to some people, I'm sure) there isn't anyone who dislikes me.

Will tomorrow be the end of it all?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's a Sickness

Law students have a few things in common, almost universally. First, ego. Second, obsessive tendencies. Add those two together with exams and grades, and you're in for quite a ride. The thing about our egos is that while they might appear big, they are easily shaken and we're often extremely self-deprecating. Self-preservation requires we puff up our chests and talk a big game, but when no one is looking we collapse into panic, worry, and pastry.

I sent out a flood of resumes and managed to secure a tentative offer. It looks good and it's with a well-known defense attorney in the area. I am very excited to meet with him and discuss my potential role. A sane person would feel a sense of relief at this, given that our grades are so important to securing a summer job. I don't need to stress about my grades, because I already have something lined up. Yet I cannot stop checking to see if they've posted.

Here is where the obsessive tendencies come in. I KNOW the grades will not post until Friday. I know that they weren't even due until today. I saw THREE of my five professors go into the office to turn in their grades and even spoke to one of them in the lobby for some time, confirming that he had in fact been doing that very thing. I KNOW the deans are going to get together to review the grades, verify they meet requirements and seem consistent and fair, and that this process will take some time. Hence the Friday posting date.

But I still keep checking.

Arlene was positively panicking today when we returned after Christmas break. She was convinced she had failed her torts exam and would not shut up about it. I of course, do not blame her at all and tried my best to calm her down. She can't help it, she's one of us.

On the plus side, so far I like my new teachers and I am very excited for my writing class tomorrow. I love my teacher in that class, and it's been weird not getting to hear his awesome stories. I've missed it.

Oh, and my research professor from last semester said he gave out more A's than he ever had before. I have a sneaking suspicion I earned one of those. Which is actually kind of sad, because it doesn't count toward my average. I have been told that often firms will ONLY ask how you did in Research, so maybe the A will prove valuable. Can you imagine, an "A" in law school? One can dream, I guess.

Back to real life. It seems odd that we adapt so quickly to vacation. At least now I have more things to obsess over besides grades, like reading for class, getting enough sleep, etc.

Oh, on an unrelated note, I've been a vegetarian for 8 days and it's going great!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

This was a pretty big one, I guess. We made (well, mostly) a pretty major decision. Things are still a bit iffy about The Mad Scientist's job. Once that is settled, and depending on how other things go, we're thinking of having another baby. We had decided not to, but this Christmas I got thinking and it makes me sad to imagine Abby with no siblings on Christmas morning. It was so wonderful seeing everyone and giving gifts, and I don't want her to miss out. On top of that, she is a toddler now. It's crazy. There are a lot of factors, and nothing's for sure, but we'd been so certain that we wouldn't have anymore that when we opened up the possibility I felt absolute joy. Which is odd, because I had been fine with the decision before this.

I am beginning a new weight-loss regimen. I'm going vegetarian temporarily, in an attempt to force myself to learn new recipes and eat more produce. I always cop out and just eat a burger. So far it's been awesome, and I'm really enjoying all the new foods I'm eating. I'm also taking up yoga and doing more to exercise in general. If all goes to plan and I get healthy, we'll talk about having another one. This is also conditional on The Mad Scientist's job, as well. That's a lot of conditions, and on top of all that the timing has to be right. I don't feel like dealing with delivering a baby in the middle of exams.

I'm really scared that I'll be so tired I'll end up cutting class all the time. It's definitely something to consider. We'll see what happens.

Our New Year's was great. We had a little adventure helping someone whose truck was stuck up the canyon. I am really sore and I got some pretty major snowburn on my hands from pushing the truck. My muscles are so sore I feel like I've been working out for two days. I was supposed to do yoga today but I dunno if I'll survive.

Only two more weeks until we get our grades. I am still trying not to think about it too much. I picked up my books, and they were so expensive. More than I thought they would be, based on what I found online but there just wasn't time.

Ugh law school. I miss it and I dread it.