I’d like to preface this post by saying that it might be bad advice. But I don’t think so. I worked with 14 interns at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office this past summer. 12 women, 2 men, 12 still in law school, 1 law grad studying for the bar (me), 1 junior in college, and I’m guessing 3 of us will go on to actually be public defenders some day. I want to talk about the girl who was still in college. How did she get hired for a position intended for law students? I don’t know. It helped that Cook County didn’t pay any of us, I’m sure. What did she do all summer, given that she knew nothing of the law and wasn’t licensed to stand up in court? I don’t know that either.
Here’s what I do know. I’ve never met a girl more determined to be a lawyer and she’d been working for a long time to put herself in the best possible position for going to law school. You know what I’m talking about: great school, double major (poly sci and something else), an internship every summer in a legal-ish setting, fancy leadership retreats in D.C., and an obsession with milking lawyers and law students for information. She had a law school all picked out (her mother’s alma mater, naturally) and could not wait to start. In spite of this, she’d already built into her plan a year or two after graduation before starting law school. Not because she wanted to travel or work in another field (just two perfectly good reasons for not going straight through to law school), but because she wanted the extra time to study for the LSAT and work on her applications. There’s such a thing as over-preparing. The LSAT is an important test and it’s good to prepare, but it does not take two-three years. And you don’t need a year or two of work experience to get into law school if you’re going to be working some bs job as a way to bide time/build up your law school applications. And your resume doesn’t need to be tailored to show your dedication to becoming a lawyer (e.g., you don’t need to be a paralegal, write for a legal publication, and major in poly sci — better to give yourself a rich array of experiences to draw from). The girl is ready to go to law school. She has a great resume that doesn’t need to be “fixed” with work experience or a crazy high LSAT score. Most importantly, she doesn’t want to do anything else. So what is she waiting for?
A moment ago, Husband asked me what I was writing about, and I told him the truth: a girl I used to work with. And then I told him the real truth, which is, of course, that I’m using her to write about myself.
I do not over-prepare. My preparation is usually barely adequate. I signed up for the December LSAT on a semi-whim my senior year of college when I realized I didn’t want to go to math grad school and never looked back. I ran six miles for the first time since my junior year of high school and when I realized I didn’t die, I signed up for the Chicago marathon. After years of anticipating going in a different direction, I applied for the job I have now just to see what would happen. When I got antsy in Tucson, I drove to San Diego the next day, when I got antsy in my apartment, I drove into the desert with a stranger, and when I got antsy with my life, I made myself a better one.
I’m antsy now and finding it harder to take my own advice than ever before. It’s ironic that the older I get, the less time I have, and yet the easier it is to say, “Let’s just wait until….” So I guess the point of this post is to remind myself that not waiting has always served me well, and to tell you that it might serve you well, too. Especially if you know what you want.