Law and Me: The very long but not quite yet break-up

The law and I have had a long and somewhat tumultuous relationship.  It began when I was 16.  Up until that point I really wanted to be an astronaut or an actress.  In my perfect world I would get to do both.  Then came my junior year of high school and a lot of AP science courses where I promptly realized that I did not like science that much.  To be very honest, it was just boring.  At the time, my mother suggested to me that I think about law.  She pointed out that I was quite argumentative and had no problem speaking in public.  She even reasoned with me that a lawyer gets to do some acting in the courtroom to convince the jury of her client’s position.  I mulled these thoughts over in my head and decided that it made sense.  I liked politics and was thinking more and more that that was where my life’s purpose was and all the politicians I knew seemed to have law degrees.

In undergrad I became very immersed in Texas politics and rationalized a law degree as a good booster for my political career and a good plan B if I ever decided that I was tired of politics or needed to put children through college.  Then there was law school itself.  First of all, it was located in Houston.  The city and I did not get along the first time we met and spent 3 years at each other’s throats.  It is only recently that we have come to some peace.  I didn’t mind the school part.  I had always been a good student and enjoyed reading the case law and learning the stories behind the litigants.

However, that is when my tentative relationship with law began to completely fall apart.  Law school was everything I was not.  It was all about conforming, keeping your mouth shut and being scared out of your mind (especially first semester!).  I did not conform, ever.  In fact throughout my life I would often make a point of doing things just because they were non-conforming.  I liked to argue politics and would argue with anyone pretty much anywhere.  This sounds all well and good, but after awhile, it was just too much.  I was exhausted.  I was generally the only one in my class that was willing to argue the liberal viewpoint of an issue.  The pressure to follow the established law school track was intense and there was no help for anyone who wanted to deviate from it.  I never dated because the men there simply couldn’t handle a woman that was as smart as they were.  Luckily I had some really good friends and I was still involved in local politics.  That and my desire to get the hell out of Texas kept me sane.

By the time I arrived in DC in January of 2005, I was pretty much convinced that I would never practice law.  I forced myself to take the Maryland bar because I figured I might as well just in case.  It was not a fun experience and my antagonism with law grew.  However, after three years of trying to stay employed in politics, I was tired of job searching every time the money for my position got cut off.  Law beckoned to me seductively.  Come practice it said, we will give you a decent salary and guaranteed employment.  So I started applying to law firms.  I was still applying to political jobs, but I reasoned, if something came through on the law side, I would see what it was like.

Within a week, I had two interviews with small firms.  I decided that it was fate and I took one of the offers.  Over the next year, I discovered exactly what it was like to practice law.  It was a topsy turvey year and not one that I would ever like to repeat. Needless to say, when I moved to the Bay Area, law and I were not on good terms.  However, I was trapped.  This is how law gets to you: you pay all that money for the legal education, then you pay to take the bar, then you pay bar dues.  Then you move out of the jurisdiction and have to re-take the bar.  Despite the fact that it costs another $5,000 to do it and I wasn’t sure I wanted to practice anyway, you do it because you spent all that money already and if you want or need to practice again someday it would be a shame to have wasted all that time.

Fast forward a year.  I have just finished taking the bar for the second time and it really got to me this time.  It was hard and the questions were unfairly random.  I am tired and I want nothing more than to chunk it all out the window and leave law behind forever. But somehow I know that it isn’t going to be that easy.

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