Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The final week

This is my last week of law school.

It's all wrapping up. My last class - ever - is Thursday morning, and my last law review meeting is Thursday evening. My last day at my firm is Friday.

Then all I have to do is turn in my final papers in two classes and take one more in-class final. It's fitting that my last class and final are with Professor Ottley, who was one of my favorite professors first year. His was my first-ever law school final in December 2006, and his will be my last in May 2009.

I probably don't have to say this, but it all feels very rushed and more than a little anticlimactic. All the stress of law school and the impending bar has actually led up to a relatively relaxed few weeks for me. I guess it's probably the eye of the hurricane.

At times I feel totally unprepared to be an attorney. I feel terrified that I will screw up someone's case and get disbarred within a few months of graduation. I am terrified of ending up in a job and lifestyle I will hate.

At other times, I can really feel the weight and experience of the last few years weighing on me, and I feel like after this, I can handle anything. I know that law school has made me a sharper person, while I also know that it has made me somewhat callous. I guess all that might have happened over time anyway, but law school accelerated it.

I'm not afraid of the bar. I know that I will study hard this summer, and that I will somehow enjoy doing practice multiple choice problems in Millennium Park in beautiful June weather. I will pass, and I will become an official, licensed attorney in November.

I'm much more worried about finding a job. It has been a deep disappointment not to have one lined up at graduation, but I'm sure eventually I will find one of those, too.

Looking through the posts of this blog, I'm so glad I've written it these last three years. I've recorded feelings of wonderment and frustration; of joy and despair. I don't know if I would have remembered it all without these notes.

At this point in my life, I probably view my law school experience as a mistake. I've met some wonderful people, but it has been years of unbelievable stress and, without a job to pay loans and make up for some of the heartbreak, it's hard to view this experience as worthwhile. Maybe I'll feel differently in a year or ten, but I truly wish I could go back in time and have a heart-to-heart talk with myself.

I went into law school without really knowing anything about it; I just felt like there was no other way to get better jobs and better money without going back to school. I didn't know about the mechanics of law school, and I certainly didn't realize that many lawyers lead really miserable lives.

But I am beginning to realize that I don't have to lead a miserable life, and as I think about that, I do regret law school less. As Dave and I both work jobs and stop going to school, we will be able to do all the things we've put off for the last three years: spend more time together, go on vacations, get a dog, and finally buy a home that's big enough for two people.

So as I end this week, I'm thinking about the life I will begin to lead after July 29. I hope for a life with a moderate amount of income, personal free time on weeknights and weekends, and learning how to relax again.

And learning how to be Val the attorney. Yikes!

1 comment:

Morgan said...

No one ever wants to lead a miserable life, but you were able to see the mistakes that other people in this career made and can choose to go the other direction. I have seen other people who hate their jobs with a passion or take all that stress home with them at night. I knew I could not live a life like that and found my current job. I don't love it, but it definitely is not too bad. I love the people I work with and I realize it gives me the time and opportunity to do a lot of the things I love outside of work. I am sure you will find a balance and you always have people you love around you to remind you what is important.