Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Why Law School?

one of the questions that i have been tackling for the past few years, is why, in my late thirties, am i now deciding to go to law school? it's a good question; after all, i have had a fairly successful career up to this point (in finance, if you must know), i am married, have a son (from a previous relationship), a home, dogs, etc. i have all the trappings of life that suggest that i'm moving forward, not backward. i'm not stagnating, at least not superficially.

but that's just it. am i happy? in a nutshell, do i enjoy my job? i spend 40 odd hours a week working, am i satisfied? the short answer is no, i'm not. in fact, i hate it. it's mind numbing, intellectually bankrupt work. i am constantly fighting just to maintain a good attitude about work, and have been for the past few years. if i stay much longer in this business i'm going to either get really depressed or go nuts (or both). so what do i do?

when i was fresh out of college, 1992 or so, i took the LSAT and scored very high. i probably got lucky, and maybe there was even a bit of skill too. nevertheless, i had a great opportunity to go to just about any law school. my undergrad transcript isn't all that impressive, but my test scores more than made up for that, so i applied to schools all over the country. i figured i'd be good at law school, after all i had been good at intellectual games for some time now (i was involved in academic debate for ten years, and pretty good at it too). it seemed law school was the next logical step, but i had no idea why. i got accepted at some, turned down by others. why didn't i go?

honestly the simple answer is that i wasn't ready. i was obstinate about where i might go to school, and one school in particular caught my attention - Northwestern University. they turned me down, and i got pissed and even appealed the decision (to no avail). i really had no idea what i wanted to study and was attracted to NWU because i thought (who knows if i was actually right) that i could just study philosophy and con-law there and teach. probably true but i had no evidence that it would be better there than any of the schools i did get in. it was almost as if i used NWU as a lynchpin excuse to NOT go to law school. i didn't really think it at the time, but in retrospect i probably made the right decision to wait.

so i slogged through the real world, and finally ended up in a growth industry and built, like i said, a relatively successfull career. and now, after almost 9 mind numbing years in finance i have finally decided that i want more, that i miss the game that intellectual stimulating study provides. i don't know what i'll do with my JD but i do know that whatever i decide, at least i will be happy doing it.

it's taken me two years to prepare for this. i have an entire life to upend, and it's much more work than the typical "fresh out of college" student who has very few ties, and can just head off to school (provided they can finance it). more on that later, but this week is the culmination of years of waiting followed by the past two years planning and preparing. in four days i'll be leaving. it doesn't quite seem real, but i'm sure it will soon enough.

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