Anna* Spirals Out Of Control With Law School Debt and Materialism
Continuing her series, Anna looks for happiness with a freshly minted law degree and designer clothes ... only to feel empty inside.
Law school is a special kind of hell. The entire premise seems to be to assign more reading than one can possibly get through. Then you are publicly humiliated for not having committed thousands of pages to memory and knowing what it is all supposed to mean without any guidance whatsoever.
One thing law school does teach is that connections are more important than hard work. Also, you learn that you can sound knowledgeable on almost any topic if you have two days to cram the research into your brain
So this philosopher-poet hippie chick arrived at law school and found herself surrounded by political science majors and debate team captains; my special kind of hell.
They say law school breaks you down and rebuilds you as a lawyer. But, in my experience, it simply breaks you down, breaks your spirit.
Many enter law school with idealistic plans of helping the world (or at least their clients). But many leave as shells of their former selves, with warped values and a cynical outlook.
The intense competitiveness and individualism of law school naturally carry over life at a law firm.
So if you want to survive the eat-what-you-kill model of many firms, you have to become an apex predator.
Even as an associate with a salary, billable hours hang over your head.
Any nonbillable activities, such as having human relationships with colleagues or loved ones or going out for lunch, simply cannot be justified.
When you find lawyers who have gone through the experience and maintained any sense of grounding, generosity, or volunteerism you have found a very endangered species. But we are out there, I promise.
Once again, I used student loans to pay for all the expenses of school, this time three years at a pricey private university.
Even with the maximum loans available and help from my father, the credit card debt I had fully paid off returned and grew.
In addition to expensive books, one also has to build a wardrobe appropriate for moot court competition, job interviews at firms, and working as a law clerk or summer associate in an office.
I went from being a funky, tattooed free spirit to a buttoned-up, Ferragamo-shod fashionista— with the credit card debt to prove it.
Shoes and handbags became my weakness. I tried to drown the sorrows of my law school career (and later life in the law) in shopping.
Women’s magazines seem to exist to tell us that happiness is just a new pair of shoes away. I thought the perfect lipstick or buttery leather handbag would magically transform me into a happy, beautiful, successful woman loved by the man of her dreams.
Alas, the closet full of Italian designer shoes and handbags didn’t bring happiness, success or love. It only left me empty inside and buried in debt. But I sure looked good for those law firm interviews.
* Name has been changed to protect privacy