Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Today on Attorneys Suck, a weblog by a frustrated attorney I've become mildly addicted to, the author sums up his accomplishments for the day. It's funny. And sad. But more funny than sad. Maybe. I had some similar days before law school, when I was working. At least at school I know I'm building towards a degree -- so days when nothing worthwhile gets accomplished are okay, because I know I'm still there for a reason. The frustrating thing about days in the real world when nothing gets accomplished are that it makes you start to wonder what you're doing, and why you're spending 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 hours a day in an office doing nothing, and what the meaning of life is. I'm on spring break this week, and have been having meals with a bunch of friends the last few days. Nobody I know seems genuinely at ease with his or her situation -- friends in the real world want to go back to school; friends in school want to go be in the real world. It's as if too much of either one is no good.

This actually leads very nicely into some thoughts I've been meaning to try and articulate into a reasonably-coherent paragraph for the last few weeks. So I guess I'll give it a shot and see how it comes out. A little spring break introspection... "Why I Like Law School."

"Why I Like Law School" -- reflections and incoherent ramblings after a semester and a half that hopefully have some relevance for anyone reading this who's not sure if law school's the right next step for him or her.

First of all, law school is school. It's not nearly as different from undergrad as I thought it would be. The lifestyle is the same, pretty much. Classes, homework, extracurriculars. Lots of other students, lots of social stuff to do, flexible schedules, bad cafeteria food, exams. It's school. If you liked undergrad, you'll like law school. Workload hasn't been tremendously different. More reading, less writing. Manageable. If you survived undergrad, you can hack it at law school. Classes aren't as boring as I feared. Good professors are good, no matter what they're teaching. Less good professors are less good. But everyone's had less good professors before. It's not that big a deal. The hardest things about the real world were (1) having to plan my life -- knowing that if I didn't make a special effort to do things, I would get into a rut of work, eat, sleep, repeat and would be lonely, bored, and unfulfilled. Not a problem at school. Usually people around, and even if not, activities are all set up for student enjoyment. Searching unnecessary. Easy to join things and get involved. Lonely, bored, and unfulfilled hasn't been a problem yet. Thankfully. (2) pointlessness. At work, I'd ask myself why I was there, what the point was, what this was building towards. At school these questions have easy answers. I get a degree at the end. No matter how useless the day-to-day could possibly feel, the degree is still something tangible that's being worked towards. No one -- including my own brain -- can tell me I'm wasting my time. Of course I'm not -- I'm in law school. Regardless of whether I feel like I'm actually learning anything. The only downsides -- this is very expensive, and in reality it's only delaying the inevitable 3 more years. After law school, I have to go back to the real world. This is a nice shelter, but it's not forever. And, as the weblog linked above illustrates, being a lawyer doesn't magically solve the problems with the real world. Still need to find a fulfilling job -- and make a fulfilling life for myself. But even if it 3 years of shelter, what's wrong with that? Law school is fun -- I'm involved in lots of stuff, I've met a bunch of cool people, made some friends, learned some interesting stuff, and I come out with a really marketable and valuable piece of paper telling me I'm a lawyer. Besides the cost -- which I can earn back if I choose to go that route -- what's wrong with spending 3 years fulfilled and reasonably happy in school even if you know you're only delaying the inevitable? After all, isn't the entirety of life just delaying the inevitable until death? Why not make yourself as happy and fulfilled as possible? If I learned one thing in my two years inbetween undergrad and law school -- and my job really wasn't that bad, most days, but the days when it was pretty crappy were actually really good for coming up with platitudes about the meaning of life -- it was that it's just not worth doing something that doesn't make you feel fulfilled and reasonably content and at peace with yourself. Life is too short. Money isn't worth it -- beyond a certain level required just to subsist and live comfortably -- when (1) you have no time to spend it, and (2) you're sad. I feel a bit disturbed when my classmates say they'll go work for a big law firm for a few years and then they'll have a bunch of money. Fine, but after a few years of working 16 hours a day doing something not particularly enjoyable isn't there a risk they'll have no more friends and no more interests and hobbies. So what good is it? We have a limited number of days to play with. Is it worth spending them doing things that aren't making us reasonably happy? Maybe it is, I don't know. I don't have answers. But I do know I feel better at law school than I did in the real world. So I'm glad I'm here.