in an elevator chat with a youngish lawyer that works at the firm, my fears were confirmed.

“you don’t learn much about how to operate as a lawyer in law school,” he said. “it’s like the lsat. you study incredibly hard for the test, only to find that it really has little to do with law school. don’t bother trying to remember anything you’ve learned the minute you step out of that exam room. in law school, it’s all theories & cases – nothing too practical. you really learn how to be a lawyer through summer work & your first few years on the job.”

ok, great. so i’m about to embark on three more years chock full of more studying and stressing than i’ve probably done in my entire life, and it’s not going to prepare me for life as a lawyer? glorious.

well, as i thought about this classical idea of education, i realized that it’s like so many things in life: how we handle each step is often more important than how it prepares us for the end result. we clamor for the next level of whatever goal we’re working for, & when we get to that next level, it’s as if we have to start all over again. the slate is wiped clean, the rules are new and our opponent is scarier & meaner looking than the last. we grit our teeth, we bear the pain or we’re out of the game & bumped back a level again.

so i’ll squeeze every possible ounce of experience that i can from the job i have now, i’ll wait to see what my lsat score is & take it again if necessary. i’ll devote as much time as is healthy to law school applications/essays & i’ll enjoy this semi-freedom that i have before more school sans lazy weekends. i’m convinced that some of the most influential people in the world realize their goals by taking things one step at a time.

my aspirations may be high, but they seem attainable if i devote myself instead to one baby step at a time instead of giant leaps.

the greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. michelangelo

2 Responses

  1. Are you working as a paralegal? Two things:

    First of all, law school CAN prepare you to be a lawyer — classes won’t, but you can do clinicals, pro bono work, informational interviews with alumni, and all sorts of other things that will prepare you if you go after those opportunities.

    Second, I’m doing a litigation clinical this semester and I feel pretty overwhelmed, but a fellow 2L who used to be a paralegal just jumped right in and knew what to do. So you’re already preparing yourself.

    Sounds like the lawyers at your firm tried to freak you out about the LSAT, but you have the right attitude — good luck! I guess you already know lots of lawyers, but feel free to email me if you have any law school questions.

  2. Thanks for the advice, CM. Since writing this post & talking to other law school students & grads, my fears have been neutralized that law school won’t prepare me to work as a lawyer. With the hard work I know I’ll put into school & clerking in the summers, I know I’ll be prepared when I graduate. It will all work out! 🙂

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