The End of Law School Blur

Obviously, things have been pretty hectic since my last entry.  I had to get through my last law school finals, graduation and all the while navigate the undercurrent of the impending bar prep class that looms in my not so distant future.  So, there’s  lots to blog about and not enough time.

Highlights: 

I’m spending this week planning, planning and planning as bar prep starts next week.  I’ve told the family repeatedly that there is no drama allowed this summer.  For once, ONCE, I am going to be selfish and I’m going to study for this bar exam like my life depends on it, because maybe it does.  I absolutely cannot afford to be unemployed one day more than I have to.  It is a constant worry in the back of my mind that failing this bar exam would decimate my finances.  Therefore, it is not an option.

I’ve got my mantra down:

I thought this was an appropriate mantra for me because if I even think of the 37 lbs of books staring at me from the corner of my room, I start to feel panic rising in my throat.  One of my professors drilled it into our heads that one key thing to passing the bar is not to panic.  I am nearly in a panic just thinking of prepping for the bar; I can’t even imagine the cold fear that will be present when I actually sit for the exam.  So, I have to NOT think of the exam or all the hours and hours of studying before I get there.  Instead, to keep the panic at bay, I am going to focus on the Elephant and the fact that nobody can eat an elephant whole.  It can, however, be done one small bite at a time.  Every day, I’m going to take a piece of it away and not worry about how much is left.  Every day my goal is “one bite at a time.”

Since this is my “dead week” I’m doing a lot of preparing.  I’ve done the monthly bills, organized my calendar, and am making lists of all the  last threads that are out there so I can get it all done before I leave next week.  Where am I going?  To bar prep hell, that’s where.   Once next week starts it will be all I can do to stay afloat and get to the other side.  But THIS TOO SHALL PASS; AND SO SHALL I!!

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In a word, graduation was “AWESOME.”  The day went by way too fast and I’m already wondering when the next appropriate occasion would be to wear my gown and hood. Maybe I’ll start a new fashion trend.

I ran for graduation speaker along with maybe 20 others in a class of just under 200 people.  I had no idea that there would be so much competition.  I ran a pretty cheap campaign through social media and did a flier for the school to send out via email.  Unlike many politicians of today I did not end up in debt in the end, but I didn’t win either.

It would have been fun and I’d been thinking about doing it for a while.  I even made my flier, set up my “campaign headquarters” and wrote my speech way back during Spring Break.  Unfortunately, I never got to give that speech.

I likely will get to blog infrequently from now until August simply because free time will be scarce.  I’m planning a schedule that gives me a little breather on Sundays, so if it all works, that’s when I might have time to post.  Even then, I will limit my blog time so likely the posts will be much shorter.  I do want to give a report from the trenches as I study though, so we’ll see how it goes.

I thought it would be a fitting way to end this chapter of my life by publishing what I would have said as graduation speaker for my law school class:

Good morning:  Friends, family, faculty, staff, and administration of Texas Wesleyan School of Law.  To my fellow graduates of the Class of 2012:  Welcome to our GRADUATION DAY!!!

Several of my friends here know that I’ve been thinking about this speech, this day, for a while now.  I’d say I first thought about running for graduation speaker in December of 2010.  In fact, I’ve been writing this speech, at least in my head, for a very long time. It was harder than I anticipated, but thank you to my classmates for giving me this honor.

How do you capture the essence of this law school experience that we are completing today in the words of a 5 minute speech?  How do you leave each classmate, each attendee, with a word of inspiration that resonates past this day?

Well, if Texas Wesleyan Law has taught us anything, it’s that we are wordsmiths.  The English language and how we use it within the context of our legal profession has power, meaning and far-reaching effects.  It was a major focus of our time here that we learn to harness that power and use it for the betterment of our future clients and the profession.

Like many of you, attending law school was a life-changing shift for me and my family.  It’s true what they say: We learn to think like lawyers and nothing is ever the same.  No longer can I answer a simple question directly because, in truth, the answer always, “depends.”  As family and friends, if you don’t believe me, ask one of these new graduates, “How does it depend?”  And they will gladly tell you.  You’ll try this experiment once and then you will see that the answer to ALL of life’s questions is, “It depends.”

But you know what?  “It Depends” is not such a bad answer.  Because it demonstrates a level of understanding that goes beyond surface knowledge.  It means that while the answer appears simple, it is in fact quite convoluted and complex. If your new graduate tells you “it depends,” he or she is offering to give you a new perspective that may change the way you look at your issue.  That’s what we do in this profession.

However, just as important is our ability to listen and empathize with those without a legal background, because their perspective is also relevant and vital to successfully working together.   Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, said it best:  “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

As future lawyers, we have to maintain a balance between both states of being; otherwise we’re doing all concerned parties a disservice.

I am certain that our time at Texas Wesleyan School of Law has changed us all.  There is no doubt that each of us found our way here differently and we managed to navigate to this graduation day, differently.  Most of you spent three years here and there are a few of us “old-timers” that are finishing up a 4-year part-time plan. This class is as varied in its background, interests, strengths and weaknesses as any other, but I think in a school as small as ours, we are pleasantly surprised to find just as many opportunities for common ground.

This is what I love about this place.  I love that many of us are Facebook friends with each other and our professors and administrators.  Having people all over the school tell you “Happy Birthday” while in class or walking in the halls probably doesn’t happen in larger schools.  I love that pro-bono work is a graduation requirement, but by the time you endeavor to complete that task, it’s not so much a task, but a lesson in the value of service.  I love the community that continues to be built by each new 1L class because Admissions somehow finds the right people to add to our law school family.

Mostly, I love that the friends and colleagues I’ve met here will remain my friends and colleagues far past this graduation day.  I am proud to be a member of the Class of 2012 and I am proud of all the successes shared by this class in the past and yet to come in the future.

On behalf of myself and my classmates I want to take this opportunity to thank the many people that made up our support networks throughout this journey.  To our families, spouses, significant others, friends and mentors we could not have achieved this victory without your patience, understanding and unwavering support.  For this, you have our unending thanks and gratitude.

Please know that in the months to come we will depend on you to maintain your steadfast dedication to our success.  The toughest stretch of road is yet to come, but together we can reach the goal that is well within our collective grasp.  Together we can finish the task that is before us, and we can finish strong!

Certain of us, myself included, are celebrating this day without the presence of a loved one because he or she didn’t make it to share this day in person.  To you, my friends, I say: Our loved ones are here today in spirit and in our hearts.  In fact, they have the best seats in the house.  To my dad; thank you for being my biggest fan.  I love you.

Finally, to my classmates:  From this day forward, ‘it depends’ will take on a new and important role in completing this journey and taking us to our next destination. How will you or I do on the Texas Bar exam in July?  It depends.  How will this graduating class represent our law school in bar passage rankings?  It depends.  How will we go forth and conduct our lives as licensed members of the State Bar?  It depends.

The good news is that it depends on us.  We all had our share of challenges and pitfalls throughout law school, yet still we are here having achieved today’s milestone.  I dare say that this CLASS has the tools, the intellect, and the heart to achieve personal and institutional success beyond any that Texas Wesleyan School of Law has seen in its history. I wish you God-speed.

Congratulations Class of 2012.  We did it!!!

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About LegalTrenches

I graduated law school in May 2012 and have been blogging about my experience as a non-traditional student since my 2L year. I live over 200 miles from my law school and so I commuted two round trips a week from the beginning. I put almost 1000 miles a week on my car. Law school is crazy. It's even crazier as a non-traditional commuter student, but I wouldn't have had it any other way! I blogged my way through bar prep and sat for the July 2012 Texas Bar exam. Hopefully some of my experiences will help out those taking the bar exam after me. On Nov. 1, 2012, I received my bar results and became an officially licensed Texas lawyer! Follow me as I transition into the legal world as a brand new baby lawyer. I'll try to keep it light and promise to keep it real.

Posted on May 16, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the positive feedback, everyone. I wish I’d gotten to give my speech in person, but glad to share it here with y’all. 🙂

  2. As I was reading your post, I was thinking: Oh, I wish she would post her speech. That would be neat!

    …And you did. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing such inspiring words. Your speech was beautiful!

  3. That would’ve been a lovely speech. Really captures it all. And I loved your blog too!

  4. That’s beautiful Carol. Incredibly proud of you.

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