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Author Topic: Joy in law?  (Read 3030 times)

Bodhica

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Joy in law?
« on: January 25, 2009, 07:31:36 AM »
I'm graduating from UC Berkeley with a 3.85 GPA in May and am strongly considering law school. A friend of mine currently at Boalt Law School recently commented:

"Law school is where happiness goes to die."

I realize law school is hard, but would you say its generally harder than most other graduate courses of study? In particular, as a somewhat spiritually-attuned person, I aim to preserve some amount of joy in my life amid obligations which might run counter. To this end, I have had some concern whether I'll be able to maintain my spiritual vitality amid the rigid pedantry of law school. This aspect of my quality of life is very important to me, and so I've wondered what kind of person law school might cause me to become. I've said to myself: Whatever happens, I will not allow law school to violate my spirituality; I will keep a distance between the two so that both can co-exist. Do you believe this is possible, or do you think that anyone in law school is condemned to some degree of spiritual alienation? More generally, I'd be interested in hearing of your law school experience in this context, as well your experience in your present job. Are/were you unhappy? Do/did you feel that you've made the wrong decision? What is/was your daily experience like? Do/did you have time for relationships and engagement with things you're passionate about? Do/did you feel that the study and practice of law may have sapped your capacity for joy?

Tetris

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Re: Joy in law?
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2009, 10:13:01 AM »
I think its different for everyone, but in general I'd say happiness does die in law school.

There's a ton of reading and homework.  And if you don't stay on top if it, then exams become double stressful.  And your grades even more so.  And  no one is outwardly competitive, but a river of implied competition runs through most of the student body.

If you can study intensively while maintaining your happiness, and if low grades won't stress you out much (since half of the class will be "below average") then I say go for it.  I'm having a good time but the stress is very real.
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vap

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Re: Joy in law?
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2009, 10:56:13 AM »
Do you think that anyone in law school is condemned to some degree of spiritual alienation? More generally, I'd be interested in hearing of your law school experience in this context, as well your experience in your present job.   Are/were you unhappy?
Not sure what you mean by this question, but I'm sure some people feel "spiritual alienation."  But law school is not a bunch of people who are unhappy people.  I would say I was "less happy" 1L year than I was before starting school; probably because I had taken a few years off to work before going back to school, so school was (and is) boring.  I really enjoyed my 1L summer job.  Working in the legal field is very different from going to law school.  During 2L fall, I was too busy to think about whether or not I was enjoying life (I suspect this is how many people in biglaw working 60+ hours go through it).  There is also a lot of competition in law school, especially if you go to a lower ranked school.  People are helpful and supportive, but in the end of the day there are only so few people who will get the best grades and jobs.

If you enjoy school generally (reading, studying, learning), you might enjoy law school.  If you enjoy problem-solving, you will probably enjoy the practice of law.

Do/did you feel that you've made the wrong decision?

No.

What is/was your daily experience like?

1L = Get up, read, go to class, lunch, read or research for LW project, dinner, read, bed.  (I also didn't work on Saturdays and only worked half the day on Sundays, usually).
2L fall = Get up, go to class, read, lunch, law review work / legal writing / case note / job hunting, dinner, law review work / legal writing / case note / job hunting, bed.  (I did a lot less reading... I skipped reading constantly because there wasn't enough time in the day.  I also did not take any weekends off.  Maybe two days "off" per month.  However, I took off almost the entire Thanksgiving break.)
2L spring (so far) = Get up, veg out for an hour, read, class, lunch, externship, dinner, read, veg out for 3 hours.

Do/did you have time for relationships and engagement with things you're passionate about?

Relationship, yes.  Other things? Not so much.  I have a dog, so that is about an hour a day of something non-law school.  I enjoy cooking, and I still do that every once and awhile.  Not so much as a 1L, and very rarely last semester.  

Do/did you feel that the study and practice of law may have sapped your capacity for joy?

No.

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Re: Joy in law?
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2009, 11:07:00 AM »
I think its different for everyone, but in general I'd say happiness does die in law school.

There's a ton of reading and homework.  And if you don't stay on top if it, then exams become double stressful.  And your grades even more so.  And  no one is outwardly competitive, but a river of implied competition runs through most of the student body.

If you can study intensively while maintaining your happiness, and if low grades won't stress you out much (since half of the class will be "below average") then I say go for it.  I'm having a good time but the stress is very real.

Credited.

Honestly, I don't think the OP has the personality to become a lawyer.  Or at least not a BigLaw lawyer.  Maybe alternative dispute resolution or a yoga career is for you.

Stole Your Nose!

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Re: Joy in law?
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2009, 11:31:33 AM »
I like school better than working, but then again I am a generally lazy person.  I do what I need to get by.  Most nights I have good intentions of working, but I wind up doing nothing and vegging out with the SO instead.  I watch a lot of movies, go out a lot, and I have plenty of time.  The only time period that was really bad was the beginning of 2L fall (with interviewing/flybacks, journal, classes) and right before something was due.

1L2011

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Re: Joy in law?
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2009, 12:20:24 PM »
I like school better than working, but then again I am a generally lazy person.  I do what I need to get by.  Most nights I have good intentions of working, but I wind up doing nothing and vegging out with the SO instead.  I watch a lot of movies, go out a lot, and I have plenty of time.  The only time period that was really bad was the beginning of 2L fall (with interviewing/flybacks, journal, classes) and right before something was due.

This is what I did for a lot of nights after the initial month of adrenaline wore off. After getting around median 1st semester I have realize that in order for me to suceed that I must kill all the happiness in my life.

M_Cool

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Re: Joy in law?
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2009, 12:32:44 PM »
Meh, I think one way to do well in law school is to be crazy obsessed, but the far easier way is to realize what is going to be on the exam, study those sections of the outline, and cruise to the same A that some guy spent 10X as much time getting.  I was actually in the previous category, but this semester I realize I could have gotten the same grades (or hell, maybe even better) with far less work by focusing on outlines & practice exams.

Stole Your Nose!

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Re: Joy in law?
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2009, 12:42:55 PM »
Agreed.  I have great grades from a lot less effort.

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Re: Joy in law?
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2009, 12:46:13 PM »
You also have the natural gaming ability that every lawyer needs.  Some people are just plain bad at gaming systems.  I think we all need Soviet grandparents or something to teach us how to get bureaucratic things with little effort.  I'm always amazed by the subterfuge employed by any reasonably intelligent person who wanted meat in, say, 1970s Romania.

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Re: Joy in law?
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2009, 01:41:44 PM »
It means that you know how to game things.  When I was doing some immigration stuff (another day, another story), I encountered two lawyers.  The first knew how to sweet talk the clerks and never really had a problem filing things or getting the bureaucracy to move in his client's decision.  He was an older man who always small-talked with everyone at the immigration office.

The second pedantically made sure everything was in order, but always struggled against the bureaucracy because she wasn't as nice or conversational with them.  Huge mistake.  I would never hire her in a million years.  She was young and had alienated some of the clerks by bringing her pedantic, stressed out self down to the office.  Some of these clerks earn maybe $10 an hour and worry about their alimony and child support -- stereotypical, I know, but play along.  Did she think they cared about whether another immigrant, her client, complied with red tape?

Lawyers need to know how to game systems.  Perhaps more than anything, I think that's what law school teaches you.  I could have spent 16 hours reading every case related to my recent memo, or 2 hours reading the most pertinent ones after I found one good case.  The former people in my class didn't seem too happy.  I barely did anything and will probably still get the same, if not higher, grade.