Because I love Justice. (or How I Decided to Become a Lawyer)

3 Nov

I have always loved to read, so it was an easy decision to declare a major when I was in the second semester of my freshman year.  Of course I was going to study English.  If you love to read, then what better way to spend four years than reading all the best books known to western civilization in the leafy mountain literary paradise that was Sewanee?  Talk about Heaven on Earth!  (and let’s not talk about how it took me at least 6 months to realize it was heaven because I had a boyfriend at another school.  That was before I wised up and just said no to relationships (last week, I believe it was)).
My sophomore roommate and dearest friend, Parmele, had entered college knowing that she was going to be a lawyer.  I can’t remember whether she majored in history or economics, but it was something that I thought would be really hard, and I was so relieved that I was only going to read novels and then graduate, and if I had to go to work, I might just plan parties for a living.  And read novels on the side for fun.
Around the first part of senior year in college, I did not have a career plan.  My then-roommate’s father had given her some apartment complexes to manage in Montgomery, but my parents weren’t rich, due to having two children in private schools, and it looked like I would have to find a job.  I wanted to plan parties and banquets and receptions for a big hotel.  And since I was dating Hal and he was going to law school, I thought I might move out to Texas to pursue this calling.
My parents, in a complete (and prescient) panic, scrambled to come up with a plan B.  My dad wrote me a beautiful, long letter telling me that I was his favorite child and how he wished he could support me forever, but sadly, if I chose not to apply to graduate school and pursue an advanced degree, that I would be on my own financially.
It was a very warm and genuine letter.  Not coercive at all on its face.  What it said was that he regretted to inform me that I had turned out to be very expensive.  And that I would need to take that into consideration when choosing a job.  I would need to earn enough money to pay for an apartment, food, gasoline, automobile insurance and health insurance (as sadly, his carriers would not allow an independent adult “child” to remain on his policies.)  He wished me all the best and had every confidence that I would be successful.  However, should I choose to go on to graduate school, he and my mom would be happy to continue paying all my bills.
Of course I immediately agreed to take the LSAT even though I had no real interest in being a lawyer.  I was just trying to appease them and secure myself in some sort of academic setting.  What I really wanted to do was teach English in a high school or college.  (Books and parties – that kind of sums me up.)  So I also sat for the GRE, which I found much more difficult than the LSAT.  But then my advisor informed me that graduate school in English (and probably any subject) would take something that I loved (reading, studying history, working math problems) and turn it into drudgery.  In retrospect, I wonder if a) my dad had called him? and b)he should have been on medication for depression?
I then applied to the prestigious University of Mississippi School of Law.  And believe it or not, I was accepted.    I tried to drop out on several occasions (a common theme in my academic track), but over the telephone, my mother calmed me down and convinced me to keep trying.  Maybe that is how I have been so successful in not flinging out into space as a result of this separation and divorce?  because I am so accustomed to being coached to stay the course by my parents when the conditions seem unendurable?  I know for a fact that where they were concerned, dropping out or quitting was never an option.  Instead they continually taught me how to take the next forward step and keep on trying.  I think I may be on the brink of a revelation here.


One Response to “Because I love Justice. (or How I Decided to Become a Lawyer)”

  1. dad November 5, 2010 at 2:12 am #

    Thought I’d just share a vignette:

    At an SAE after-the-game gathering, I sidled up to Dr. Reischman and inquired what career direction(s) he could imagine for you. Without hesitation, he responded, “The Law!”

    “The Law?…Really? Why do you say that?”

    J.R.: “Have you ever heard that girl argue?”

    Enough said…

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