Can I go to law school when I’m old: Part II

July 15, 2008 at 9:46 pm | Posted in law school | 1 Comment
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Here’s why I did not go to law school: to make friends. I have enough friends. I’m not being cheeky.  I am fortunate to have made wonderful friends over the stages of my life — childhood and high school, summer camp, college, journalism school, in Idaho and Los Angeles, and here in Boston.  As you move out of your 20s and debaucherous mini-reunions become less and less of an option, to properly keep in touch with friends — especially as they begin to disperse back to hometowns, across the country, or across the world — is a struggle. I wish I had more time for these incredible people who have criss-crossed my life — be they all the way in China or just across the Charles River as it were — I certainly wasn’t looking to fill any sort of gaps of friendship in my lilfe.

My decision to go to law school, as I’ve written about before, was almost solely for my own professional and financial self-improvement, and one of the reasons I chose to go to law school in Boston — as opposed to New York or Los Angeles, which also were options — was because I had such a great support system of sisters and friends here already. I knew just one person when I set foot on campus in the fall of 2005 — my sister’s roommate, Meg, who already was a good friend — and I didn’t think that anyone would really want to be friends with the older, more experienced (ahem) student, who had lived a lot more life than probably 99% of the beer-and-softball playing crowd that BC Law is known to attract.  (To be fair, I also sort of knew Andrew, since my other sister pointed him out in the “facebook” and said, “I went to college with him. He’s great. You should be his friend.”) But in general, I wanted to stay in a familiar city, with familiar people. What would my classmates and I possibly have in common? I lived in a tiny studio in Cambridge, and I assumed they’d all be sharing large flats in Allston and Brighton, having study groups (not my thing) and keg parties (not my thing anymore).

So I wasn’t looking to make more friends, but law school is a strange world, especially your first year.  First, you are thrown all the way back to high school with a rigorous, set schedule: you take the same exact classes with the same exact people at the same exact times every day. (BC also drives this home with the very high school-eque — public high school, at any rate! — corridors of lockers.) You get to know everyone in your 80-person section well — you see them in the library, grab a quick lunch with them in the cafeteria, silently urge them on when they get cold-called on a footnote in Torts or groan when you-know-who raises his/her hand again. And then, of course, you need to unwind, and if everyone else is going for $1 drafts in Cleveland Circle after the last class on Friday (at 3:30 p.m.!) what else are you going to do? It’s a camaraderie that exists probably only in one’s college freshman dorm — the whole experience is so new and somewhat terrifying that you cling to this group to which you’ve been randomly assigned for dear life. 

And from that larger group a few people start to emerge as lifelong friends. I know that there are several dozen people whom I will be happy to see for years to come at alumni events, tailgates, and walking the sidewalks of the Financial District in their lawyer suits.  But there are a few more whose children’s baptisms, husband’s 30th birthday parties, weddings, baby showers, and housewarmings I’ll attend for the rest of my life.  A small group who will get together for random lunches and brunches, whom I can email to complain or to celebrate.  Without whom I couldn’t have made it through law school — people who kept me laughing during the trials of 1L year, academically afloat while sick and pregnant 2L year, and sane and happy as I did 3L year with the Little Bug.  With the exception of a few who are fleeing or have fled to more interesting places out West or to NYC (or even Connecticut! Yikes!), most will be staying in Boston, working in buildings I can see from my 34th floor office. 

And most of my friends, I should note, are much, much younger than I am.  Which means I have another round of bridal showers and weddings and baby showers — and bar nights! — but also that, in the end, age wasn’t and isn’t the divisive factor I thought it would be going back to school.  Moreover, as an older student, I also formed relationships with professors that I know I’ll sustain — something that, naively, I was too intimidated to do in college.  Not only am I much wiser about the benefits of making and keeping contacts in one’s professional world, but I could relate to professors as a professional in my own right, as a parent, and as a friend (professors it turns out — gasp! — are people too!).  In general, these younger and older friendships are due in part to the intensity of the law school experience and, particularly, the cohesive nature of 1L year and my relative independence when I started.  But I also got really, really lucky in stumbling upon a school where my friends are the types of people I strive to be when I’m at my best.

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  1. I was considering LA, too. Pepperdine offered me a full ride but I turned it down thinking I never would end up in southern California, anyway. (Right.) But whenever I even begin to think I’m $140,000 dumber than I should be, I remember what I’ve gained instead (the Captain, my friends, your blog), and then I feel that much richer.

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