Home > Anxiety, Bitching, Depressing, New York, Sad, Silliness, Skepticism, Stupidity, Worry > The Time I Almost Went to Law School (Part 1)

The Time I Almost Went to Law School (Part 1)

University of Michigan law library, aka “Hogwarts”

So back in 2009, I decided to apply to law school.

This is a tale that has been repeated by many a liberal arts grad, and I was no exception. After graduating in 2006 with a degree in Japanese (yes, I know, you can stop laughing now), I wasn’t exactly a prime job candidate. I taught English in Japan for a year, then got the fuck out and eventually moved to NYC in 2007. I had no reason for picking New York, other than that fact that I knew people there. After struggling daily with loneliness and depression in Japan, I just wanted to live in a place where I had a bit of a social group already built in.

My brother and his wife were here; my aunt, uncle, and cousins were here; and several college friends had settled in NYC. Little did I know that most of these people would be gone within a few years. Most of friends were (and still are) in the arts as actors, dancers, artists, etc. This city chews them up and spits them out as husks of their former selves. After years of working up to six part-time jobs at a time while also auditioning AND rehearsing AND performing for FREE, most decided to get the hell out of Dodge. The pace of this city is grueling even for a 9-5 type of person, and the pressure is about 1000 times worse for someone in an artistic field. I marvel at their courage and dedication, and don’t fault them for leaving NYC, but I still miss them.

Anyway, I had showed up in NYC with two suitcases, no apartment, and no job, which was one of my stupider moves. But hell, I was 24 and figured anything had to be better than Cincinnati, OH. I eventually ended up living in a (sort of) walled living room, paying far more rent than I could afford. I jumped around from temp job to temp job, desperately trying to get someone to hire me on full-time. I interviewed where I could, though I’ve never been good at selling myself, and so always came off as nervous and weird. I found myself working for a translation company as a disgruntled receptionist, and my attempts to segue that position into one that actually used Japanese were foiled at every turn. Miserable and barely scraping by, the financial meltdown hit, and I figured my days were numbered. Layoffs were a daily occurrence, and I began plotting my escape. I wasn’t cut out for admin work, and I had no idea what I would do or where I would go.

In the midst of this, a light bulb suddenly went off in my head. Law school, that’s the ticket! The catch-all degree for aimless graduates with no purpose or direction in life! Now, to be fair, there are many people who attend law school for the right reasons. I suppose those reasons are debatable, but I consider them to be things like a real, true desire to practice law. A dream of becoming a lawyer, backed by real-life experience as perhaps a paralegal. An understanding of what they’re getting into, and also the knowledge that not all lawyers are rich, and to be okay with that. Full knowledge of the debt that might be incurred during law school, and what it will actually be like to live with such debt. A good, solid, and realistic idea of exactly what type of job/specialty you’d like to pursue post-law school.

Here are some of the wrong reasons, and I fit just about all of them. A vague, aimless sense that you should get some sort of advanced degree, and you like writing, so maybe law would be okay? Or the always laughable “I like to argue” defense. Or the “Well, hell, I took the LSAT and did okay, so I might as well apply, right?” Or the “Since the economy is in the shitter, I’ll just wait it out in law school.” Or the “Even if I never practice law, my JD will be a total asset to my resume!” Or the “I watch a lot of [insert legal drama here] and love it, so I’ll love being a lawyer!” For people that supposedly have a decent grasp of logic, there are a lot of fallacies here. But we humans do so love a good rationalization, and thus these types of thoughts are inevitable.

Anyway, I was thrilled at first to have a new purpose in life. I’ve always been unusually good at standardized tests, and felt confident that I could tackle the LSAT with enough preparation. I knew that law school admissions were based almost solely on your GPA and LSAT score, which would be a benefit for me since my resume was crap, and I did next to no extracurricular activities in or after college. My first practice LSAT attempt was something of a wake-up call since I bombed the logic problem section completely. I literally couldn’t do a single question, except for the ones that could potentially be solved via trial and error.

I got some LSAT study books and old exams, and set to work with a manic, focused fury I’ve never really experienced before or since. I was so miserable in my day job that anything, even studying for a boring test, was enough to pull me out of my depression. My lack of social life was hardly noticeable since most leisure time was spent bubbling in a Scantron while seated next to a stopwatch. I studied almost daily, and took at least one full LSAT every weekend. I was averaging well into the 170s (out of 180, so not bad), and felt pretty good. Then came the big day of the test, and I stumbled. Logic problem sections were featured back-to-back, and I fucked them up badly, just like the first time I ever saw them. My ultimate score wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

So miserable was I, and so convinced that law school was the answer to all my troubles, that I decided to take the LSAT again and wait another admission cycle before applying. My studying strategy was scientific and data-driven to the point of OCD. I had multiple spreadsheets tracking my progress or lack thereof, and I could identify my weak spots since I had categorized every single LSAT problem I had ever seen. I took every single modern-era LSAT exam. All of them. I was so focused on getting a good test score that I completely overlooked considering WHY I was doing any of this. I figured that could all come later. And come it did.

(This is continued in Part 2 since I apparently just love writing about standardized tests. What is wrong with me?)

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