Tag Archives: law school

Of preganacy and pee, neither of which was mine

I think maybe all that good karma I’ve been building up for the past several years might finally be paying off. Today while I was at the law firm management class the senior attorney sent me to in his place, the associate attorney in my firm announced that she’s pregnant. Innntersting.

For those unaware of my employment situation, I went to law school, failed the bar exam, and have been basically temping in a firm for the last year while waiting to take the exam again and get my results back.

Also, in case you were unaware, the legal job market is among the worst of all the job markets right now due to a rash of universities opening law schools within the past 20 years or so because they realized there’s a lot of money to be made from running law schools.  Ohio has 9 law schools.  It’s pretty ridiculous.  Almost nobody lands a job at a firm right out of law school anymore.  Many are lucky to land a job at a firm at all.  The stats for lawyers who never actually practice law is staggering.

To go to a bottom tier law school, not do law review or moot court, not work in the legal field while in school, graduate well below the top third of the class and land a job at a firm out of law school is unheard of in this environment.  Add to that the fact that I was both female and a non-traditional student (old) and all things considered, I came out of law school completely doomed.  Sadly, failing the bar and temping for a year was probably the best thing that possibly could have happened to me.

I’m not going to jinx myself by assuming the associate being pregnant means anything for me at all.  It might mean nothing and even if it means something the something might not be all that great.  If I am offered any sort of position at all it could be only slightly better than solo practice.  I could be allowed to rent office space, be paid a percentage of my work in exchange for being allowed to stay for a set period of time, there are loads of possibilities.  I may also be sent out into the world with some experience under my belt, an office management class, and a nice letter of recommendation.  That’s fine too because frankly, I have resigned myself to probable solo practice and gotten comfortable with the idea. So whatever happens (beyond me failing the bar again, oh dear flying spaghetti monster no!) I feel like I’m ready for whatever.

That said, it’s not all sunshine and roses.  After a year of temping following 2 years of being a full time student, we’ve pushed so much to the back burner that half of it has fallen off the back of the stove.  Little things morph so easily into huge inconveniences.  For example, my animals got fleas which we’ve been trying to get rid of on a shoestring budget.  I came home today to discover my cat apparently peed in my closet last week following the great flea bath debacle of 2012.  That was a week ago, I think, or was it 2 weeks?  It all runs together when you’re working 7 days a week.  (Second weekend temp job) Anyway, it evidently took a nice warm, humid, rainy day for the smell to finally get strong enough for me to notice it.  That and the closet was shut all day and I think most of the time we leave it open.  There’s also the possibility that it was new pee.  If it was new though it was added to some old pee because when I finally found the source of the smell, I also discovered it had already molded.  Mmmm moldy cat pee.  I thought for a minute the bathtub had leaked through the wall but after a lengthy inspection by the light of a lightsaber, I’ve determined there’s no sign of moisture on the bathtub side.  It was definitely the pee.  I’m hoping it was old unnoticed flea bath debacle pee because frankly, I just can’t deal with a sneak pee’er on top of everything else.  Sigh.

I won’t even go into the flea bath debacle, I’ll just say, I feel like overall, I should really probably have better Karma than this.

So it should be coming my way then … right?

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Living as an adult with A.D.H.D.

I try to avoid talking about my A.D.H.D. because people are so understandably skeptical.  There for a while, and maybe still, it seemed like every kid was diagnosed with it.  The symptoms of A.D.H.D. when listed out, just sound like, ok, so your kid’s a kid and could probably use more discipline.  I’ll be the first to admit that I think it’s over diagnosed and that parents are way too quick to medicate their children.

That said, A.D.H.D. is a real disorder.  Its cause is an underdeveloped or underfunctioning fronal lobe.  Basically, that part of the brain that stores, organizes, and processes information is broken.  Because its broken, you can’t just try harder or write things down.  It’s not just a matter of being more organized or putting things in the same place all the time.  Believe me, I try.  I’ve worked hard to develop habits of organization.  I carry a planner everywhere I go and I try hard to write everything down.  I have learned to ask for help.  I try to keep my work area clean and organized so I can find things and remember things and not be distracted.  The problem is, on my very best day, I can’t do those things as well as most people on their very worst day.  It makes me crazy.

Admitting that I can’t control it is the hardest part for me.  I strongly believe that, while medication can be helpful, people need to make a conscious effort to control their thoughts, moods, and actions.  I believe that if you don’t consciously choose to be better, no amount of medication can make you better.  Because I believe this so strongly, I was off of medication from around third grade until half way through law school.  It sucked.

As a kid I remember having panic attacks because I got to school and didn’t have an assignment that I had no recollection of having ever been assigned.  I remember my  desk being dumped out on the floor in front of my classmates and crying as I was forced to look for some forgotten worksheet.  I remember even up through high school, being told that I was lazy, that I wasn’t trying, that I just needed to get organized.  In my professional life I’ve been denied promotions because of “careless mistakes”.  I’ve been written up and even terminated because I just couldn’t complete the task I was assigned in the time I was given with the level of accuracy they expected.  It has been a non-stop frustration for me that, despite the fact that I am extraordinarily intelligent, I am unable to adequately complete even the most menial tasks.

In law school I finally caved in and asked to be put on medication again.  My grades immediately went up a full letter grade.  I was able to work better and more efficiently.  I no longer had to read the same page 3 or 4 times because my eyes were moving over the words but my brain was doing something else completely.  Being on medication again made me realize why everything seemed so much harder for me.  I realized that I wasn’t just lazy or careless.  When I was on medication, I didn’t lose time.  I didn’t wander around wondering what I was doing all the time.  I didn’t constantly lose things.  I didn’t always feel confused.  For the first time in a long time, I felt fairly confident that I was in control.

Since being out of law school, however, I don’t have insurance and my income is unpredictable so I am once again off of medication.  The thing that sucks most is knowing what I am missing.  I find myself once again making “careless mistakes” at work.  Mistakes that I agonize over to the point that I can’t sleep.  I’ve tried to avoid them.  I have proofread and asked others to check my work and still things get lost or there are typos or despite the fact that I am certain I was told to send a letter to a particular address, it should have gone to another.  I can’t think of words when I’m speaking!  Basic words, words that I use every day.  I sound like an idiot.  It’s so frustrating.  I am trying my very hardest and my hardest simply isn’t good enough.  I don’t know what I am going to do.  I don’t think I am in danger of being fired or anything.  Overall I think I do a good job.  This just really isn’t the stellar impression I wanted to make. Mostly I’m afraid this isn’t the type of performance that will lead to a recommendation or permanent position.

There’s also the matter of the bar exam coming up in a few weeks.  I am trying so hard to study but everything distracts me.  If my work space isn’t clean, or I’m uncomfortable, or there’s noise, or there isn’t noise, or the dogs need out, or there’s dinner to be cooked, or there’s something shiny, or whatever.  Something is always distracting me.  I know I should be studying and I need to study and believe me I am TRYING to study.  I just fail, a lot.  My biggest problem is losing time.  I am constantly shocked that it’s already 7:00 or 8:00 because all I did was come home, feed the animals, and make dinner.  The thing is, all of that takes me forever because I constantly get confused and distracted.  It’s awful.  It is absolutely awful that I can’t do something as simple as make tacos and read without putting such great time and effort into it.

So that’s where things stand for me currently.  I am trying really hard and I am extremely frustrated.  Mostly I’m just doing the best I can and getting by.  I guess that’s all any of us can do.

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A Serious Post (I won’t make a habit of it)

After a week or more of mild depression and deep soul searching, I have decided to get off my butt and really figure out what I’m doing with my life. This post is about that process and what I have realized at the end of it.  What I’m about to say is very specific to me and my journey.  However, I am posting it here because I think others might relate to it too and if so, maybe it’ll help you toward your own discovery.  Maybe it’ll just help you to not feel alone in your struggle.  Either way, here’s my story:

The beginning – I had a life plan.  It was a perfectly good plan, a long term plan, a plan that I had worked toward for years.  Like many a runaway bride, I discovered that when long term plans actually begin to come to fruition, it is absolutely terrifying.  I felt as if I’d finally reached the top of the high dive only to go “holy crap!  I’m at the top of the high dive!”  That’s about the point when everything got kind of jibbly.

May – July 2011: I graduated law school to discover I was terrified both of becoming lawyer and of not becoming lawyer. I sent out resumes and I studied for the bar and all the while I was thinking, “I’m no lawyer.  I’m not like all those people I graduated with.  I have no experience.  I have no idea what I’m doing.  I’m OLD!  I’m too old not to have any experience and not to know what I’m doing.  If I do manage to land an attorney job, I’m going to make a fool of myself and everyone will be disappointed in me.”  Silently I doubted, worried, studied, and tried to keep a happy face.

July 2011: I honestly think I subconsciously sabotaged myself on the bar exam.  I studied and I tried but I also worried, panicked, underestimated, and overestimated. In short I did what I did and it wasn’t enough or it wasn’t right or it was both or more than both.  Regardless of what it was, I failed.  Unfortunately I wouldn’t know that I failed until the end of October.

There’s some overlap in time coming up, so bear with me.

August – October 2011 –  Because I knew deep down that I had failed the bar, I think I sabotaged my job search a bit.  Not intentionally, I just didn’t have my heart in it because it felt like a lost cause.  I applied for attorney jobs not really feeling like I was qualified and not having a real sense of what I brought to the table.  I still felt like I had no clue how to be an attorney.  I desperately wanted to be working full time but felt like if I got a job as an attorney I’d be revealed as a fraud.  “How did I ever make it through law school?” I’d wonder. “I have no idea what I’m doing!”

August – November 2011 – I took my mind off my inadequacy by fundraising and training for the 3-Day for the Cure.  It was a welcome distraction and key to maintaining some little bit of self-esteem.  This is why, when my fundraisers were disappointing I was absolutely devastated.  At that point in my life, I really needed to be good at something and to feel good about something I was doing.

September 2011 – January 2012 – I was working 2 temp jobs.  One was extremely easy but cut into my day terribly, making it very difficult to accomplish much else.  The other was working part time for an attorney.

This job really went a long way toward getting me on my feet, but it has been a rough road.  In the beginning I felt sheer panic when I was called in to get a job.  I would work and work on memos and briefs while feeling like I had no idea what I was doing.  I was certain with every assignment I turned in that I’d be called out as a fraud.  I only billed for about half the hours I worked because I was fairly certain it should be taking me half as long to complete the work.  I stressed over assignments to the point that I couldn’t eat or sleep.  I found myself procrastinating.  I hated, and I mean absolutely loathed, doing the assignments I was given.  I decided that I didn’t want to be an attorney.  I hated doing attorney work and that there was no way I could keep doing it forever.  Of course I couldn’t say this out loud.  All those people who had rooted for me and supported me would be so disappointed.  All the people who had been proud of me would stop being proud.  I couldn’t have that.  So, I plugged along and kept working for the attorney.

November 2011 – yesterday – I spent my time sending out resumes for jobs I didn’t want in a field I had spent years working to get out of.  I told myself and others that if I could just get working somewhere, I could figure out how to be an attorney down the road.  I just needed to get a job doing something familiar at a company with a legal department and then I could transfer.  That way, I could prove myself first and hopefully people wouldn’t think too badly of me if I fumbled at being an attorney when the time came. This was a plan, but it didn’t feel like a good plan.  It didn’t feel like my plan to become a lawyer had felt.  Basically it felt empty and I felt empty working toward it.

The other sort of back-burner plan I’d had for some time was to adjunct teach business law, paralegal, pre-law, criminal justice or something like that while studying to retake the bar.  Then I could continue teaching in the evenings to supplement my income.  That would make solo practice less scary if I was ultimately forced to go that route.  The problem was, since I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing as a lawyer, I didn’t think I could teach law either.  I didn’t want to be that teacher who doesn’t really know what she’s talking about.  Because of my law insecurities, I felt too insecure to apply for teaching jobs.  I got leads, I looked at postings, and I chickened out.  The sad thing is, this plan always seemed like the better plan.  It was more on track with where I wanted to be and was definitely more in line with my interests than going back into logistics.  I was afraid to fail though and I was letting my fear of failure hold me back.

February 2012 – In the past week I have cranked out 4 assignments for the attorney I work for.  They were really easy.  I had a good idea what the law was going into them from other assignments I’d done .  I didn’t stress over them.  I slept.  I finally realized that I haven’t had that sense of loathing and dread when I do legal work for quite some time. The attorney I work for has consistently stated that he is happy with my work, not only to me but to others.  He has even moved me from being a sort of freelance employee who picks up a check when I complete an assignment to actually being on his payroll.  I’ve even stopped shaving time off of my hours logs.  Basically, competence and confidence sneaked up on me while I was busy being distracted by my fear.  I’ve realized that I do want to be an attorney and also, I really do want to teach.  I’ve known all along what my game plan was, I was just too afraid to execute it.  I was too afraid I’d fail.

That brings me to now.  I have requested transcripts from all of the schools I’ve attended and begun looking into which colleges and universities are hiring.  I have looked up the deadline to apply to take the bar again in July and have begun talking to Andy about where we’ll get the money for the application.  I have started working on my study plan and thinking about which of my friends and family I can go to for advice about teaching, developing lesson plans, and choosing textbooks.  For the first time in a very long time, I feel like I’m on track again.  Heck, I’m even eating healthy again and making a point to be more active.  I think, no, I hope this time I’ve got this.

I’m still afraid.  I still know there are no attorney jobs to be had and I have little experience.  This time however, I’m gaining experience as I go.  I’m doing legal work and if I land a teaching job, that will help, rather than hinder, my post bar exam job search.  For the first time in a very long time, I actually feel pretty good about where I’m going and what I’m doing.  It’s a good feeling.  I guess I didn’t stray so far from the path after all.

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