Hi. I’m Michael, a 3L on the journey that is Law School. I’m not your typical law student. I’ve traveled all over, from summers spent hiking in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, to an archeological dig on the Island of Crete, Greece. I’m also a former small business owner. My...
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Law School and the Marathon; A Metaphor
Law school is a tedious journey, not for the faint of heart. Law school is more akin to marathon then anything else I can think of and if you allow me to continue the metaphor, hopefully I can provide some insight.
A few years ago, I thought “wouldn’t it be great if I ran a marathon”. I mean what a big personal accomplishment that would be. I would feel like king of the world. I’d be able to put those 26.2 bumper stickers all over my car, and I’d even get a cool medal to showcase in an office one day. But before I dove into training, I did some research first.
In order to start training for a marathon you need to have the physical abilities to run 5 miles uninterrupted. From there the training scheme starts off slow but every few weeks it kicks up a notch with either an 8 mile run or more. Then it slows down again before ratcheting up to longer and longer runs. Throughout the course of the training you will start to build strength and endurance, you will focus more on your dieting, and eventually really only care about getting the miles behind you. Then eventually you will pick a date and register for the actual race. From there the training really starts! The nerves begin to set in and the excitement is fluttering day in and day out. Meanwhile friends, family, parents, and significant others are all behind; supporting you, catching you on the bad days, keeping you grounded on the good days, just being there not knowing what your going through but knowing that “if its important to you, then it’s important to them!”
Then the actual race approaches and thoughts of “did I stretch enough”, and “am I hydrated enough” start to engulf you. Once the race starts though, your only focus is one foot in front of the other, followed by thoughts of “I can do this, I can do this!” Then the wall hits, we are all familiar with it, the time where doubt starts to set in and all you can do is hope that you have enough heart left in you to drag you across the finish line. This is what why you trained so hard, this is why you sacrified so much, the long hours in isolation, the highs, the lows, and everything in between. But when you do finish, and you will finish, that flood of emotion is so powerful that it knocks you to your knees. You’ve done something, something big, something worth all the praise, something worth sharing with the world, something worth posting on Facebook!
Well as a 3L, I have begun to realize that the marathon metaphor is a lot like law school. Before you even begin your legal training you need a bachelors, not in anything particular but in something that has the flexibility to allow for free thought and critical thinking. Then when you enroll in your first year, it is like the first few weeks and months of training. There will be times where you will only have to focus on one or two problems, but then there will be days that you have to read 100 pages on Property law regarding just compensation and the condemnation process before the government can take your land. But then, like the training, it lulls.
Then by the time second year starts you have begun to build up strength and endurance in your legal training, 100 pages a night are nothing, and you think “Bring it on Con Law! 200 pages on the Dormant Commerce Clause is a joke; that’s all you got!” But then other things start to get into the mix like internships, an attempt at a social life and clinical experiences. The doubt as to why you’re in law school rears its ugly head; especially since you’re juggling so much and have little time for even some semblance of what life used to be like! These are when the phone calls from Moms and Dads, friends, and family matter the most! This is when those calls, emails, and family dinners help to keep you grounded, or conversely prop you back up!
3L year rolls around and you’ve completed the toughest part of your training. You are now used to those long mileage solo runs or as I like to call the typical all night-ers. But then you register for the Bar Exam and the nervous excitement sets in. You plug away at long days spent studying, forgoing beach days, cookouts, and Sunday fundays all for the extra hours spent with Torts, Crim Pro, and many other dangerous friends. Finally, the Bar approaches and thoughts of “did I study enough” come along with panic and endless renditions of the M’Naghten Test factors for the criminally insane dance through your head. Once the exam starts you think “I can do this, I can do this!” Then like the marathon the dreaded wall hits, during the exam doubt creeps in but you remember that those foregone days at the beach are the reason why you’re able to remember that inquiry notice is enough to put a buyer on notice of clouded title to land. Finally, your heart powers you through and you finish! Once done, you’ve accomplished something! The emotion sends you to your knees and you’re proud, exhausted, and exhilarated! You’ve done something, something big, something worth all the praise, something worth sharing with the world, something worth posting on Facebook!'
But I’ve never actually ran a marathon. That's only how I think it would feel if I didn’t stop before I even started. Why am I writing this post you might ask?
Well, for two reasons. First, so many people that I have met through law school just finished their own personal marathon, they just finished taking the Bar Exam in their requisite states! So to all my February friends who just took the Bar Exam, I salute you! You’ve done something! Something special! Now go share it on Facebook!
Secondly, as a thanks to my family and friends, and especially my parents who have supported me through thick and thin, on the good days and bad phone calls, on the late nights and early mornings. They have been there every ‘mile’ and you might say that was a mile they ran right there with me. As of this posting I am just shy of 75 days until graduation and am only there because of their undying support and that of my family and friends who surrounded me with positive encouragement through out the course of the past three years! So thank you Mom, Dad, Chris, and Kait!