Monday, April 10, 2006


Tonight I found myself sitting at a desk, laptop humming away, pen and highlighter at the ready; listening to a lecture on Family Law. Yes, CLE [Continuing Legal Education for the non legal eagles] has finally begun. Here in NJ the first three years are required and everything after that is “optional”. The first year is a series of lectures, 6 hours each on 6 different topics. I was actually on time, nay I was an hour EARLY for class. [Someone please give my law school roommate smelling salts after reading that, she is going to need them.] I had so looked forward to these lectures for the past year as they meant that I had finally passed the bar. However, now I have decidedly mixed feelings. I am grateful to have something legal going on in my mind, however it is also a HUGE reminder that I am not working in the legal field.

I found being in a classroom setting pleasantly familiar. There were 4 years of college, 3 yrs of law school and then the dreaded BAR/BRI summer and then my own self imposed study sessions the following summer. I am quite at home in that setting. Going to CLE was strangely relaxing since it was familiar and I didn’t have to worry that I was suddenly not going to know what to do or how to behave. It made me consider, ever so briefly, going back to school. Then I decided that was a ridiculous notion. I like “school” because it is familiar, but all I have to do is talk to a friend who is a 3L to remember the mayhem of classes and papers and exams that I was all too ready to leave behind when I graduated. My life has been so off track and tumultuous recently it is no wonder that I crave the calming familiarity of being a student, it is what I have done most of my life.

Being in class was a little like being a 1L again. I’m not talking about the material, I’m talking about this irrational fear I had that someone wearing a black suit and dark shades, a la MIB, was going to find me in the halls and tell me that some mistake had been made. I was not supposed to be admitted. I refused to put my institution’s sticker on my car my entire 1L year for fear that I would be sent home because I didn’t belong or worse, flunk out. I didn’t want to jinx myself. I felt that way tonight. All I could think was that most of the people in that lecture had passed the bar exam on their first time, and that they were all blissfully working for firms now, while I am stuck temping. Could they see it in my eyes? Smell it on my clothes? Did they know I spent the day reading this book and answering phones for some non-descript company rather than steeped in legal issues and knee deep in lexis cases? I even went so far as to carefully select my outfit. I didn’t want to be overdressed and therefore uncomfortable for the three hours, but I also didn’t want anyone to realize I didn’t spend the day drafting motions and making court appearances. I picking a simple, yet tasteful blouse and pants. It was part of an outfit that you could wear on its own or throw a blazer on and be ready for court. Of course I didn’t remove the blazer from my closet this morning, there was no court appearance. I bet no one noticed or cared. I bet there was at least one other unemployed lawyer in that room. I hope so. Not that I wish ill will on anyone, I just don’t want to be all alone in my inadequacy.

It’s silly, but it’s also sad. I want so much to clear this final hurdle and do what I always dreamed I could. I am gun shy now after my most recent employment experience. I never, ever doubted that I would be a great lawyer someday. I feel like I have been groomed for it my entire life. Was I wrong all this time?


At 1:34 AM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous eve said...

Of course you are a great lawyer! You just had a bad experience - everyone has them eventually - it's a good thing you got yours out of the way early! Smooth sailing from here on out!!

Believe me, I know how hard this whole process is. It sucks royally. I'm sure that good things will be coming your way soon!!!!

At 7:52 AM, April 11, 2006, Blogger TSC Girl said...

I heart Eve, she always has something nice to say. :)

At 7:03 PM, April 16, 2006, Anonymous Michael said...

Amen to Eve (and to TSCG's nice comments about Eve.)

Believe me, I would love to be able to find some case in my area of specialty, jump right in, take depositions, and wallow about in the piles of money raked up from billable hours.

But, that's not happening.

It will.

And it will for you, too.

It's a process.

Now, having been all supportive and such, I have to tell you I laughed out loud at your description of the preparation you made for dressing for your CLE class. When I went to a CLE seminar (which I didn't NEED to be at, I went because I thought I needed to learn the topic), I put on a shirt and tie (no jacket), and was pretty much the best-dressed lawyer there. Sheesh...

At 10:36 PM, April 16, 2006, Blogger TSC Girl said...

Thanks for making me smile Michael.


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