I've been counting down my law school "lasts" for about the past two weeks. But I can officially say that I have had my LAST day of law school classes. My LAST lecture by a law professor. My LAST note taking session. My LAST chance to check facebook during class discussion. My last Diet Dr. Pepper at the lawschool as a student. Sigh. When did it happen? When did law school just speed by? Remember 1L year and how time seemed to drag on. Funny how the minutes in class seem to take longer than all the minutes spent outside of class combined.
I don't know whether to be happy or sad. To celebrate or reflect. I know I will eventually, one day far from now, miss being a student. But I also know I will NOT miss the inherent evils of law school. All I can say is that my law school experience was NOTHING like I expected it to be. However, I didn't expect much because I decided to go to law school on a last minute whim.
When I started my summer criminal law class in 2006, I didn't know about the Socratic method. I didn't know what a tort was or that there were federal AND state court systems. I didn't even know what attorneys did. Words that I now toss around in casual conversation or make lame jokes about today were completely foreign to me: jurisdiction, adverse possession, due process. I didn't know what a "brief" was. I was shocked to learn that a memo could actually be 15+ pages- I thought there were just those sticky pads you kept on your desk. OMG- remember when we didn't even know how to READ A CASE? I remember my professor handing out a printed case from Westlaw and thinking, "Holy hell, what does this mean and where does it say who the winner is?" (because phrases like "Judgment entered in favor of the Plaintiff" or "Remanded" meant absolutely nothing to me, it might as well have said "rocky road is the icecream choice of south american mammals" or something.
But my last day of law school classes was sadly disappointing. It was very anti-clamactic. I didn't have any friends to share in my excitement as they had already graduated. I didn't really get to know anyone this semester (thanks to commuting and putting family time first) whom I could even talk to about it. After my last class ended today I wanted to get out of my seat and yell-"I'm done forever!" But I just kept to myself- in a room full of strangers, who would even care? It didn't help that it hasn't sunken in yet and I don't FEEL done, at least not with three finals coming up.
I will say that being a parent and a law student at the same time is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Law school alone is enough to make you a sleepless wreck. Add an infant to that and it's like a nightmare where you have a bloody hatchet sticking out of your head and are being chased by giant, fleshless zombies who are getting closer and closer while you are uncontrollably running slower and slower and it's just a matter of any heart pounding second before they eat you alive. My crazy 2.5 hour- one way!- commute didn't help any.
I spent this semester envying the law students who only had to worry about school and nothing else. I'm crazy for willingly becoming a mom and a wife while also being a law student. But this MILP network truly helped me persevere as I realized I was NOT the only crazy one out there and that it WAS possible to do everything at the same time. But really, it is my AMAZING family that has got me through it all. My husband has been so understanding and helpful and he let me be crabby when I needed to be. My mom and mother-in-law took turns watching my son all week so I could attend class and study- they are incredible. My son was also so patient with me and cooperative (most of the time: minus the waking up at 5:30 am). My god, this is starting to sound like an oscar award ceremony.
My final reflection on law school is that despite the tough times, the occassional depression, feelings of inadeqacy, and the assload of debt, it was an overall amazing experience. I have grown so much in the last three years. I am hardly recognizable as the timid person who first stepped onto campus in 2006. I am strong. I am smart. I am capable. I am passionate. I am caring. I am an adovcate. I am soon to be an officer of the court and of justice. I am...in deep shit when it comes to final exams.
How did I manage not to do a SINGLE reading assignment in my Professional Responsibility class all semester? And they are going to let me handle million dollar insurance defense cases?