Winter break has allowed me to self reflect. Some lessons:
1. Humility: Prior to law school, I viewed myself as a whiz kid. I would always do just enough. I somehow managed to have numerous job opportunities throughout high school and college. I ignorantly believed that those who were unemployed lacked resourcefulness or drive. During 1L, I worked hard and fared decently. Despite my own resourcefulness and drive, I struggled to find a paid legal intern position. Sure, there were numerous volunteer and externship opportunities available – but, frankly, I couldn’t afford that for the summer. I started by applying to jobs that interested me and was picky. Most of the time, I would never hear back from employers. Occasionally, I would receive a rejection email or letter a few weeks or months after applying to a job. It was tough. I started to get worried. And, I realized how wrong I was before. It is tough to find a paid legal internship as a 1L. I also recognized that failing to obtain a paid position does not reflect on who you are or your ability to be a good lawyer.
2. Creative Solutions: If you are creative, you can thrive. I ended up taking a position for the Lewis & Clark Sustainability Council. It was a paid part-time position and it allowed me to network with a variety of law alumni. However, it didn’t provide me with the legal experience I desired. But, the creativity clock struck 12. I decided to volunteer for a few county judges by researching and writing legal memos. I watched trials. I spent free time trying to learn on my own. It was by far the best thing I could have ever done for myself. If money is an issue and you can’t afford to volunteer or pay for an externship, remember: you can work any type of job for money, and volunteer your extra time to obtain your desired legal experience. So, why am I so happy I chose this route? Because, during my job search this fall, every single interviewer I met with wanted to know more about my volunteer experience. Most didn’t even care whether the position was paid. Many were intrigued by the fact that a 1L was able to work with three judges on a variety of projects. They liked that I thought outside the box and was persistent in my efforts to learn more about the law.
3. Apply to things that interest you even if you think you aren’t qualified: Without a blink of an eye, 2L and OCI started. I applied to every position that interested me. I applied to positions where I didn’t even meet the GPA requirement. I networked. And, guess what? I got interviews (and more than one)! Don’t beat yourself up. Apply, apply, apply. Sure, grades matter. Actually, they matter A LOT. But, if you don’t apply, know that you aren’t allowed to complain that no one wants you. An employer might just make an exception for you (because most lawyers will realize that grades aren’t always everything).
4. Fit Matters. Don’t beat yourself up when you are rejected: I somehow managed to get a couple of callback interviews. There was one firm in particular that I fell in love with. The people there were absolutely awe-inspiring. I went through the initial interview and sweaty palmed my way through a 12 part callback interview. I was sold. I wanted the job so badly. And, then, I got the rejection phone call. It hurt. And, I beat myself up about it. I was disappointed. I started to doubt myself and think that I would never find a job. I was frustrated that I allowed myself to desire a job so badly. After a week of feeling defeated, I realized my silliness. A 3L mentor of mine told me something that stuck with me: fit matters. I was rejected: I simply wasn’t the right fit for that firm. Big whoop. Get over it. A job will come along where I will be the right fit.
5. Don’t give up and don’t lower your standards. And, I was right. I would be the right fit somewhere else. I didn’t lower my standards and only applied to jobs that interested me. And, I’m happy to report that I found a job that I’m absolutely excited to start this Friday.
It’s a struggle to find that first job. It’s a struggle to find a job you really like. But, if you keep applying and do your best to better yourself as a person and job candidate, you will find the right fit. Always: Keep moving forward (I love this song).
Wow. The three hours I had to finish my last exam didn’t feel like enough; my eyes were tired from staring at my computer screen so intently; and, ExamSoft cut me off mid-sentence! You would think that after a final you would want to party and do this, but that’s not at all what happened. I drove home thinking about all of my answers, reflecting about my life, and starting a mental checklist of all the things I want to get done this break. I got home and watched an episode of Last Man Standing. I know, I can’t believe that’s how I celebrated being half way done with law school either…
But, not to worry! I will have a more engaging life this break. I plan to reconnect with my friends from high school and college, help my parents around the house (aka rid myself of guilt for not doing much with them the last few months), get fit (I highly suggest Insanity), work on my capstone for Ninth Circuit Review, rewrite a paper for the Environmental and Animal Law Advocacy course, and have a party (or two!). It feels nice to have a bit of freedom and time to work on bettering myself.
Law school is like a relationship with someone who doesn’t love you back. You put in a lot of effort, you care a lot about it, and you hope for the best. In return, you feel like you can’t ever do enough to make it happy. You feel foolish for having high expectations and sad when you don’t get what you want. And sometimes, if you aren’t careful, you start doubting yourself and think there is something wrong with you. But, having a break is wonderful. You get just enough time to understand that you aren’t the problem, and that there are many better things ahead of you. Law school isn’t everything. And, just because law school may or may not love you back, you realize that you are still a worthy, intelligent, and beautiful person.
It definitely doesn’t hurt that Lewis & Clark is filled with fantastic and wonderful people who are willing to take time out of their busy lives to give you a hug, a friendly smile, or offer support when you need it most. But, more importantly, it’s really not as bad as people think it is. With a bit of perspective, you realize how much you have learned about law (and, yourself) and, ultimately, you feel happy to have had the experience. I love this school.
This magically appeared in the library this week…
Most law students quickly learn how to juggle family time with study time. It’s normal.
What do I do?
1. Go to the library at school when my family is in town to visit and study effectively.
2. Go home when I’m tired of studying and need a break. Re-energize by being around the people that make me incredibly happy.
3. Skype WHENEVER possible.
I love this kid: