Monday, April 17, 2006

The End is Near

This is my last week of law school.

One week is all that’s left. One week, then finals, and I’m ABB (All But the Bar). I can’t really wrap my mind around that.

I didn’t join in the registration madness. I haven’t been cruising by the Registrar’s Office eighteen times a day to check for course changes or to look at enrollment numbers for the classes I’m considering adding or to ponder what alternative would be the best between two horrible sounding classes that fit my schedule when nothing else will. Several of my 2L and 1L friends asked for my advice in selecting classes, which was fine—after all, I begged for advice when doing my own registration, but it was strange to be giving advice and not asking for any for myself. Several times over the course of the past few weeks, one or another of them has glanced up from an elaborate chart showing times and days of meeting times or a long list of options for scheduling their semester and absently asked me what classes I’m taking next year. (I usually answer “The Bar”, even though I’m actually taking the Bar this year.) (Maybe I should stop saying that before I jinx myself into failing and end up actually taking the Bar next year, too.) It’s very strange to me that Ash and War and Death will all still be here, doing the school thing, going to classes, eating lunch in the student lounge, taking off in the middle of the day to get coffee at Caribou... and I have no idea where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing.

How strange is it that I am already leaving law school? The past three years have gone far, far faster than my time as an undergraduate went. The four and a half years that I spent at University seemed to take an eternity; I felt like I would never, ever finish. Instead, I would go straight from living off the government via Stafford Loans to living off the government via Social Security. Law school seems to have barely started yesterday.

Maybe it’s because of the major changes that have occurred in my life since I started. Looking back at who I was and what I thought was true and what I wanted from life back in August 2003, I barely recognize that person as being me. I’m much, much happier on the whole, but I’m also much angrier. It’s a wonderful world, yes, but there are some really crummy people running the show and a lot of people live their lives like brainwashed sheep, just so long as the really bad things happen to someone else. I feel both a little disillusioned about my ability to make an impact and optimistic about making the world a better place. I’ve reconsidered my views on a lot of things: the role of the courts vs. the role of the legislature... love and marriage... where I want to live... abortion... health care... parenting... how important owning a home is to me... what kind of life I want to lead... Some things I've changed my mind about, some things I've become more firmly convincced of, some things I've shifted on just a little.

I thought that law school would teach me to think more effectively about the big issues, but to be honest, I don’t feel like that happened. Maybe I just can’t see it because it was so incremental. I don’t feel anymore able to understand the intricacies of health care policy or foreign affairs than I did before I started law school. I joke with my friends that law school has actually made me stupider, that reading case law has caused me some sort of brain damage. Maybe I just feel stupider because now I’m more acutely aware of how complex some of these things really are?

The thing that I liked most about law school was the interaction with lots of other smart people around my age. This was a new experience for me, and I’ll really miss that day-in, day-out dialogue (and I really struggled to find a less buzz-wordy way to put it, but I’ve failed). For every blowhard talking over everyone else in the room to make sure that we all know how expensive his fancy mountain bike (that he can’t possibly ever use) cost, there’s someone who makes you laugh hysterically over a dryly witty commentary on the latest stupidity propagated by our esteemed legislators, or someone who knows you’ve had a bad day and brings you a piece of chocolate to cheer you up.

What I won’t miss is the constant one-upmanship. (Though I suppose I shouldn’t expect to leave that behind). I hate that ultra competitive crap.

There’s a lot to get done in the next week, and I’m feeling the stress of it. But it still doesn’t seem real to me. How is it possible that I’m going to walk across the stage and get my J.D. in just a few weeks? And how on Earth am I going to get my apartment cleaned up before my mother gets here for Graduation?



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