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Monday, September 13, 2010

The second year they work you to death

The saying about law school goes, "The first year they scare you to death, the second year they work you to death, and the third year they bore you to death." I can vouch for the first year bit. I was scared. I was very, very scared. Maybe in a lot of ways I still am, although as I reported last week, the second year existence so far does feel much calmer than the first year. Been there, done that, got the grades to prove it.

As for the second year, from what I see so far it must also be true. I am underachieving this year, but even so I feel worked to death. I am taking 15 credits - the minimum full time amount (although the maximum adds only one class; but I don't like burnout, you see, so I opted against that). I am also not doing anything extra, such as law review, moot court, or any type of school group. Oh don't get me wrong, I would have been great on law review. That shit is right up my anal-retentive, grammar-nazi, scholarly-writing alley. I am positive that I could have written onto one of the reviews. But I chose not to. I didn't do the write-on competition. Maybe it will prove to have been a poor choice in this career field that is so snobbish in how it rewards pedigree, but it's something I felt like I didn't want to do at this point, which probably precludes my doing it ever. My reasons are hard to articulate. I know, because I just had three or four false starts on sentences trying to explain why I didn't want to do law review. I just... don't want to do it.

So anyway, despite that I'm at 15 credits and doing none of that fancy resume boosting stuff, I still do feel like there is so much more work to do this year than last. The reading is still averaging between 20 and 30 pages per class, but in a few classes, that is just for starters, and then after that you either have to read statutory text or work through complicated role-play problems, or both. It's a lot. Besides that, there are two writing requirements at my school that you must get in order to graduate. One is the writing intensive experience, and one is the capstone paper. I am doing both of those this semester. Maybe unwise, but that's just the way my schedule has seemed to work out. I have two courses that will cover those requirements for me. The good news about those is that I won't have to do a regular final exam, but just the writing. And I am better at paper writing than final exams. So though it will be more work up front, it may pay off on my transcript. Of course, after last year, I know better than to count those chickens before they hatch. It may look grade A from here, but you never know when you might get a rotten egg.

Man, this was the longest short week of my life. I wasn't at school on Monday on account of Labor Day. I did still labor that day, however. I read assignments during most of it. It was also the last day that we had Ian's parents in town visiting. As much as I love having visitors, it is always a challenge having people in town during the semester. People, I think, just really don't understand how much work is required in law school. I tell people that I only go to school Monday through Thursday, and somehow that gives people the impression that life is pretty smooth and dandy. E's folks got in on Thursday, and they counseled me to just study as much as I could on Friday so we could spend the rest of the weekend having fun. Nice thought, that, but it's dreaming. I spent the first half of Friday reading, until we got together with E's folks in the early evening; did a little reading Saturday while E and his pop grilled some mighty fine steaks; read during the five hour round trip car ride to the coast and back on Sunday; read up until dinner on Sunday. We did other things too, really. I distinctly remember at one point going to the farmer's market and Saturday Market downtown, and then there was the jaunt to Lake Oswego, and I seem to remember eating out a few times. But it blurs because you read and you read, and you can't hold much in your head because you are always cramming something else in there. That's why this week has felt so very very long.

So anyway, it's a lot of work, and luckily, I live with a man who is extremely understanding about how much I have to bow out of life in order to get everything done. I neglect E constantly when I am in school, but he understands. He says he just can't wait for me to be done. You and me both, Mister. But I fear secretly that things won't change after law school. (Ok, not so secret anymore.) I fear that I'm going to get one of those jobs that sucks my life away and makes me work 90 hours per week, including Saturdays and maybe the odd Sunday. And that's if I'm lucky enough to get a job, right? Oh god. If that's what it's going to be like, I may as well slit my writs. In reality, I do know that those jobs are usually reserved to the big law firms that pay people their weight in gold per year to become wage slave zombies, and in order to get those jobs, not only do you have to get stellar grades, but you have to be on law review (perhaps I am aiming low for an unconscious desire not to get into big law). I don't want that job anyway. I know there are alternatives. Alternatives that mean I will never pay my loans off in my life, sure, but alternatives no less. God, the cynicism that follows the first year of law school!

Anyway, I'm not saying don't come visit me while I'm in school. Not at all. I'm just saying that you'll have to understand that I gotta read, and I gotta read a lot, and it usually takes me 3-4 hours to properly read and brief a 20-30-page assignment. And I have about ten 20-30-page assignments per week. It's only going to get worse once I start my writing assignments. That will be soon.

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heidikins said...

Knock 'em dead!


B.R. said...

All of my lawyer friends say the exact same thing re: the tedious aspect of the law school curriculum. Intellect helps one is school, no doubt, but it's not primary. What's primary is will power and tenacity. You're almost half-way done and before you know it you'll be charging billable hours. Good luck with your courses.

heidikins said...

Knock 'em dead!


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