I cannot believe it’s been so long since I posted to this blog. I feel so neglectful. I did think about blogging a few times and then decided against it. Mostly, I’ve just been way too busy and way too tired. Work has been very stressful with lots of unwarranted and unwanted projects that just add to my daily craziness.
Generally speaking, the month of December flew by. However, the closer it got to the Christmas break the more it seemed to screech to a grind; that last week was brutal. I was in a foul mood most of that week and then it finally hit me that my upcoming (paid) vacation would be my first since 2007. Seriously, other than a day here or there (not paid), I have been in school, working, or in school AND working since the summer of 2007. That’s every spring break, every summer, every break between semesters. Most times I was finishing up my finals one day and starting work the next, or leaving my job on a Friday and starting a new semester on Monday. Insane.
Well, I had a good run…5 solid years of working/studying/studying/working and it finally caught up to me. So, I wasn’t too hard on myself this last week when I was done and I mean DONE with work for 2012. I practically ran out of the office on Dec. 21—I hope my plants held on to the water I gave them because I still have another five glorious days off.
Another thing that’s been stressful is what every former law student will come to know as “transitioning into repayment status.” I cannot tell you how my stomach knots up every time I go to the mailbox lately and there’s ANOTHER letter from fedloan, DirectLoans and the latest, SallieMae. It seems like a I get a letter every other day. One letter says one thing and then next say something totally different. I have called fedloan and DirectLoans multiple times since October; I should have them on speed dial. This latest, SallieMae just joined the party this week and now I’m all confused.
As I sort through all these letters from all these companies I keep reminding myself that I am a lawyer, an educated person, I should be able to make heads and/or tails of these notices, but yet, the thought of dealing with this mess makes me cringe. All I want to know is how much, HOW MUCH do I pay and to whom, that’s all. But, it’s not that easy.
Some loans are with this servicer, other loans are with that servicer. I also qualify for Loan Forgiveness credits because I work for a public entity and turns out only ONE servicer handles that, so I needed to move (consolidate) the loans to the one servicer that will track my public service credits. Standard loan repayment would be equal to approximately 25% of my monthly GROSS income, so that was definitely not happening. I applied for a modified payment plan and then I had both that application and the consolidation going at the same time…with two different servicers. Meanwhile, I kept getting notices that my payments were coming due (for the standard repayment) and I kept calling them to say, “Hey, I can’t pay this…where in the process is my paperwork?” I keep getting assurances that it’s proceeding and issuing a “forbearance” is quick and easy, so they keep telling me that I’m ok. And still I’m getting notices in the mail and via email that my payment is past due. I check my online account which confirms “forbearance” and get the distinct impression that the left hand has no flippin’ idea what the right hand is doing. This does not inspire great confidence on my part. If this sounds confusing, it is. If it sounds stressful, it is.
Then SallieMae came on the scene and supposedly is handling all of the above for me and my (reasonable) payments won’t start until March—at least according to my phone call to them yesterday. TODAY, I get notice in the mail that says something completely different. Sigh…my stomach hurts.
My only advice to those who eventually arrive at this point: Get a notepad and document, document, document every time you call one of these places, the date, time, who you spoke with and what they said. It’s the only lifeline I have in this crazy nightmare.
If I could get all this straightened out my life would be so much better. I hate this not knowing what my finances are from month to month. I just want to have all this settle down and get to paying off these loans. I know I will probably be paying on these loans for a long time…at least 10 years, but I’m fine with that. I don’t care about being in student loan debt, to me it was worth it. I have no regrets.
SallieMae and I are going to be good friends for a long, long time.
I still have to let off a little more steam before the new year officially arrives though, so I’m planning a board game night with some of my friends for New Year’s eve. Nothing elaborate, just good friends, good food and then…GOOD NIGHT! Needless to say, SallieMae is NOT invited.
Happy 2012–Here’s to returning the favor to the federal government and beginning my loan repayment. Cheers!
ORIGINALLY POSTED 9/21/11 (Additional comments added 11/12/11) Alright, I can finally talk about it: MPRE scores came out. Praise God, I passed with flying colors! To pass in Texas you need a score of 85–I got 101. I wonder if the State Bar would consider banking those extra points for me to use on the bar exam. You think? Hmmm, me neither, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!
I would have been surprised to fail, but you never know. In my mind this was “the state of TEXAS” standing between me and a passing score and I really wanted to pass the first time. I’m so glad this is done. I’m starting to see signs around school about prep classes for the November exam and I just smile.
My 3L bar card arrived, so I’m official! I promptly filed my first law suit a few days later. Then I called the client, introduced myself, and discussed the status of her case. She was very happy to hear from me and I was amazed at how easily “I’m the lawyer working on your case,” just rolled off my tongue. Next I’ll prepare the medical billing affidavits and begin reviewing another case set for trial in October.
A heartfelt thank you to: Emily, Doug, Julie, Gloria and Ruth. These folks in Admissions, Financial Aid, and Student Services made it possible for me to timely complete a complicated scholarship application. I needed so much documentation that I doubted I’d make the deadline, but when I asked for help I was received warmly and with a smile. I don’t know that they realize how much their efforts are appreciated, especially when one of us students comes running in needing something done fast. This, my friends, is when it pays off to be in a small school where people know and care about you. It’s not just a job, it’s a family.
ORIGINALLY POSTED 7/27/11 (Additional comments added on 11/12/11) –NYC went by so fast, but my mom and I had a wonderful time and saw lots of the City. As a bonus, Derek Jeter got his 3000thhit the weekend we were there. Awesome!
Our main event at the AAJ Convention was a Sunday morning brunch hosted by the Women Trial Lawyers Caucus. I met many talented female trial lawyers who took time to chat and personally encourage me in my law school journey. Just at my table of eight there were three U.S. Congresswomen with whom I had breakfast! At the breakfast I received the Women Trial Lawyers Caucus Mike Eidson Scholarship for $5000. This is an annual scholarship that the Caucus gives away to one female law student in the country.
I was speechless when I got the call and just honored beyond belief to be selected, especially because when I first considered applying for the scholarship I thought I didn’t qualify. The award is for a female law student who aspires to be a trial attorney and has taken affirmative steps to reach that goal. In my mind, that meant you should have joined mock trial or moot court. Because of my crazy commuting schedule and the fact that these two organizations practice countless hours outside of class, I just couldn’t make it work.
I blew off applying for the scholarship and weeks later had a dream that told me not only that I should apply and what I should say in my essay, but assured me that I would win. The dream literally walked me through an examination of what I’d done in and out of law school and how these things were relevant to becoming a trial lawyer. I woke up with a plan, but unsure if I’d missed the deadline. Turns out I had just over a week to complete my application, which I did. The rest is history.
I can’t tell you how many successful and prominent people walked up to me at the brunch and commented about how my essay just impacted them. I was asked specific questions about my submittal such that I knew they had read my application with interest and admiration. I was repeatedly told that my application was by far the best they received. Wow. I want to especially thank Marianne LeBlanc and the Women Trial Lawyers Caucus for an unforgettable experience.
Meanwhile, I have to shelve my future lawyer dreams temporarily and focus on completing my legal education. Even though the new semester is still three weeks away, I have a major test coming up. Next Friday I will take the MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam) which is the ethics portion of my State Bar exam; a passing score is required to practice in Texas. Seeing as many of my friends are taking the BIG bar exam this very week, the MPRE seems tame by comparison. Nevertheless, it is a challenge I must conquer before taking my own bar exam next July, so it’s kind of a big deal.
I’ll be in Fort Worth this weekend to take an MPRE review class at school, so my Saturday is pretty much toast. That’s ok; my friend Lyndsay (another blogger) will be there, so we’re in this together. Wish us luck!