I signed up for the mentor program at my school. I don’t why I signed up, but I did. I asked for someone who could tell me how they balance being a mother and a lawyer.

Yesterday, on my way to meet my mentor, I ran into a girl who I like a lot, but who is very hyper about grades. She rattled off how hard she thinks all of the finals are going to be, and then said good bye.

So I get to my mentors law office, and ask for her. Out of the elevators comes this really tall, really overweight pregnant woman with long blonde hair. We go get something to eat, and then the conversation gets ugly.

What do I want to do? What field am I interested in? You must make a decision. How are my grades? YOU HAVE TO GET THOSE GRADES UP. What are you doing for an internship? Well, you need to start begging the high end firms to let you come and work for free this summer. Have you been networking? YOU HAVE TO GET THOSE GRADES UP. A firm won’t look twice at you. You have to get on a journal. You need a better internship. You had your baby before law school? Hmmm, well YOU HAVE TO GET THOSE GRADES UP.

She then shook my hand and went back to work, happy as a clam. In the few moments this woman let me speak, I had explained to her that I wanted a government job. She totally disregarded this. Apparently, I have done everything wrong.

Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t bother me. But I am not well. This semester has sucked. I haven’t gotten a good night sleep since break. I have had a cold for four weeks now. I have gained fifteen pounds, I live off coffee and I hate everybody. (Well, not you gentle reader).

I was so upset last night that I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t study, mind you. I just couldn’t sleep.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not someone who says, “Oh I want to work in the public sector, my grades don’t matter.” They do matter to me. But I worked my ass off last semester, and I got straight B+. Period. It’s going to have to do.

I have talked to a couple of professors about strategies to do better my next round of finals. They were good suggestions and I am trying them out. But at the end of the day, a lot of it is out of your control. You study hard, do the best you can, and then you let go.

I didn’t study today. I am not going to tonight either. I am going to the Legal Follies. I probably won’t get hired at a BIG FIRM. Damn.


9 thoughts on “Unwellness

  1. Hi, I graduated last year. I got a job in criminal law. The people I interviewed with didn’t even ask for my grades.

    Your mentor seems to be somewhat snooty. A B+ average is pretty darn good. Especially since you have a child.

  2. Googie, this is just one of the many reasons I am running far, far away from BigLaw now before I have a complete and total nervous breakdown. The drive to BigLaw from your school and your peers is pressure enough without constantly hearing “How are your grades? Is that medication affecting your studies? Are you going to be able to handle school? Maybe you should quit now?” AAAAHHHH!!!! I never realized how much crap we would get from career services and from our classmates about the “right path” and how little guidance we would get on alternative paths. I, for one, have been lobbying the school to bring in people who took alternative careers so we can hear from them (they do occasionally, but only during the day, which sucks for night students). You should think about the networking when you’re feeling better, though. Attorneys do like to talk to 1Ls, but the closer you get to graduation, the more threatening you are. I bet if you called up a government lawyer now and offered to take him or her out to lunch to seek advice about the best law school path, they would love to go (I’ve already had lunch with two judges and four attorneys this way).

    Feel better!! 🙂

  3. I just realized the above wasn’t clear. I work for BigLaw and I quit this week. I meant to insert at the end that I’m getting it at work AND at school.

  4. I think some people’s idea of “success” is different from other peoples’. I think I’m holding myself together pretty well – a fact I regard as success! I don’t think you’re the type to worry too much about what some idiot has to say about how you’re ALL wrong . . . because YOU have your own goals. Oh, and you probably don’t want to be a really big overweight preggo lady with long, blonde hair working at big law, either. (OMG – you didn’t meet ME, did you?!? Just kidding)

  5. I’m glad you have readers who know exactly what you’re speaking of.
    I just want to remind you of all the things you ARE doing right.
    You’re breathing
    You’re eating
    You’re mothering & partnering
    You’re learning
    You’re bettering
    You’re becoming
    Take a breath and remind yourself that Law School is no small feat. And that adding THAT to all the other aspects of your life is miracle making most days.
    Hang in there.

  6. Wish I’d seen this sooner. The woman you met with sucks and if she was a mentor at my school, I would have a talk with our career services office. Due to the way the curve works, only a very small percentage of students even see A’s, and a B+ average rocks! If only those with A averages ended up with jobs, law schools wouldn’t stay in business long. There are lots of jobs out there that it won’t matter for…..but sure, if you were pinning your hopes and dreams on BigLaw (thank you, PT Mom for giving it a name), then it might matter. That’s not you.

    I have recently been given a lot of encouragemen from working lawyers (and hiring partners) that especially with returning students who have a life, the grades are not the be all and end all. They (some of THEM) look at the whole picture….what have you been doing during school, what kinds of experiences have you had, can you write, can you communicate, do you have a passion for the work?

    We’re all whole packages and many of us really don’t want to work for a place where we are just a GPA who they can make their slave for 70+ hours per week. The woman you met with was presumptious to assume she knew what you wanted for your life. See if you can get a different mentor. I’ve signed up each year and have met some wonderful women.

    Hang in. Your grades are awesome!

  7. Oh gross! I find that there is no shortage of supply for those kind of “mentors” at my school. I’ve spent so long around them that I’ve started to loose perspective that people even CAN be nonjudgmental, friendly… helpful even.

    I’d offer advise about how to not let it bother you… but, um, it bothers me so I’d only be speaking in theory.

    And anyway, a B+ is good!

  8. I just found your blog, and I LOVE it. I also have a lot to say about this issue. First of all, I am fourth year associate at a big firm. I chose this path because my partner hated being an accountant and now works in the public sector, and I wanted us to be able to have a family without worrying so much about money. I had a B average after my first year and was out on my resume. I spent my 1L summer working for free in Africa (against the advice of Career Services). I got three offers from big firms, and several more offers from small firms/government employers. I had no idea what kind of law I wanted to practice. I’m still not 100% sure.

    About BigLaw. It’s not the best choice for everyone(the hours are demanding and sometimes the areas of practice can be limited), but it’s not what I thought it would be, either. Like any job, sometimes people can be jerks. But most of the people I work with are down-to-earth and the work is challenging. I work with a lot of non-profit entities and have had no moral conflicts. I’ve gotten excellent training and developed skills that will help me in my career. I’ve made friends. I’m 8 weeks pregnant and my boss is over-the-moon supportive.

    Since your “mentor” sounds like a troll, let me give some unsolicted advice. I felt in law school a great deal of pressure to “choose” – public interest or BigLaw. I am liberal, and care about social justice, so I always felt guilty about my choice (which was truthfully based on money, not principle). Plus, I was not in the top 10% and I felt no one would hire me. But once I got out of law school, I learned that these categories are artificially constructed, and that people move freely and easily between jobs in the public and private sector. In my practice, people with state government experience are highly valued for their expertise and contacts and my firm covets them. The three partners I work with most all used to run state agencies, and they are brilliant. So none of this is set in stone and the stereotypes are often untrue.

    I also think it is important to not undervalue yourself based on the madness that is law school. The key element to success in a big firm is being a good writer, and you are that. As for the “children before law school” issue, don’t sweat that – there are many, many summer associates who have children. I have no idea what she’s even talking about.

    If you want to talk about any of this more, please drop me a comment at my blog and I’ll email you directly. I know lots of parents/lawyers who balance their responsibilities in every conceivable legal job.

    Good luck with everything. 🙂

  9. Pingback: And Now For Something Totally Different « In Loco Parentis

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