Sometime in the fall of 2010, I dropped a stack of first-year law books onto a scale, then fetched the second armload and dropped it on there too. The idea was to calculate somehow the degree and duration of pressure the bad disk in my neck could withstand before it burst. But I’m no good at math, and so I bargained with the disk instead. Three years, I told it. That’s what I need from you.
Thirty-three months later, the disk is intact and so am I, more or less, even if the gaping breaches in the gray matter are fully exposed, and virtually everything I thought to be true is cast into doubt. But that’s law school.
Prolonged stretches of boredom punctuated by seizures of panic that a single misstep might cause the whole house of cards to collapse. That’s law school. A vague sense that this might just be a colossal scam, that there may never be adequate return to wipe out unspeakable debt and make the whole enterprise a wash. That’s law school. Rare bonds of friendship, the kind common among old campaigners who exist to assure one another that all perception is skewed in here, after all, and that we will live to tell about this. Maybe we’ll even laugh about it. That’s law school, too.
Law school is a long moment of desperation from which you might emerge whole in spite of your own self-sabotaging efforts to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Law school is wounded ego soothed now and then with a thin balm of success. Law school is arrogance in the rightness of your position, inflated in direct proportion to the hard-won realization that there is no black and white and that sometimes your hubris is all you have.
Law school is furious vicissitudes of judgment in which you conclude on an alternating basis that this was either the best or the worst thing you ever did. Law school also is the prelude to what, by all accounts, is The Worst Summer of Your Life. I have had more summers than some, and the coming weeks will tell whether the one spent preparing for the bar exam eclipses the others that were less than perfect.