Last year, to the bafflement of friends, family, and Jonathon, the IT guy at my office, I announced my decision to leave work and go to law school. I was super serious about it too. Given my penchant for entertainment and notoriously capricious behavior however, I anticipated this decision would be met with skepticism so prepared a statement in advance. It went something like this:
"Of course, this is a good idea! I mean, I don't necessarily want to be a lawyer, per se, but it will give me a foundation for what I do want to do. And it will make me a lot smarter."
Who could disagree with such scholarly aims? It seemed like a great plan because I liked to argue and I liked money. Plus, I'd done my research and determined some of the most highly successful people began as lawyers: President Obama, Gerard Butler, Andrea Bocelli, Geraldo, and Gandhi. A law degree offered flexibility! It was brilliant.
Once everyone established I wasn't kidding, they were 100 percent behind it. This especially convinced me I was making the right decision (I prefer to corroborate my theories). Suddenly, the talk of law school became exciting. I imagined myself in the fast lane, a powerhouse attorney who won all her cases. I'd be like Matthew McConaughey in his decent films, only I'd drive my own car and blast "Ambitionz Az A Ridah" everywhere I went. News teams would be waiting for me on the courthouse steps after trials, begging for a quote. I would hold my hand up and shake my head adamantly: No comment. Or perhaps I would pause momentarily to say something profound.
"Today... in this courtroom... we have seen justice."
A standing ovation would ensue. Ideally, I would be brought on board for the next O.J. Simpson-type case. This would propel me into the spotlight, then I could write a bunch of books and be guest speaker on nighttime shows for CNBC and CNN. They'd pit me against Gloria Allred, as the young, exceptionally beautiful, new wave associate, asking my advice on pressing factors like judicial bias and witness tampering.
"I have to disagree with Gloria, Anderson; it's quite clear the witness was tampered."
All this imagining was really fun, but everything changed when I had to go to school. Not only was the media not documenting my every move, I could barely get a good seat in the classroom. Worse, people were actually excited to be lawyers. They showed up to class in suits and read cases we weren't even assigned. They memorized all the motions after a week, despite the fact our test was open book, and routinely stayed up late studying. I refused to do anything past five o'clock.
While I enjoyed my criminal course, it was only because we read about murders and drug deals. In fact, one case we discussed involved a man who shot his roommate with a bow and arrow (in the '90s!). Conversely, my other classes paled in comparison. Property Law was one driveway tiff after another, and nothing was more tedious than Civil Procedure. That was the real deal-breaker. My professor required us to go on a court visit, and when I arrived to find no sign of any cast member from Law & Order, the red flags went up.
I did some additional research, this time on people who'd dropped out of law school. Turns out, a lot of them were famous too -- even more famous than those who'd persisted -- so I knew it was my move. I also Googled forums for poor saps, like myself, drowning in a shit-ton of debt, but not willing to listen to anything more having to do with complaints or pre-verdict judgments. The growing consensus was to flee sooner rather than later. Still, a lofty choice granted each semester cost nearly $25K, and I was one level deep.
So I talked to my dad, the most pragmatic person in my life and the most resourceful. Remarkably, he wore the same pair of plaid golf pants from the year 1970 until 2005 when my mom stole them and gave them to Larry, our church janitor. I knew he'd propose both an efficient and practical solution.
"What's the point in going another semester?" He asked, suggesting I write down my goals on a piece of paper and stick to them. I told him I'd done that already. "I don't understand what your problem is then, Court."
Disregarding this latter, unnecessary remark, he essentially told me to quit. I don't typically take my dad's advice, but such break from character was monumental. If there's one thing he hates more than change, apparently it's an unbalanced checkbook.
Furthermore, when I got my schedule for the second semester and noticed an 8:30 a.m. class three days a week, I knew it was time to bounce.
Pondering my step, I opted to wait until I received my loan deposit, that way I could have some money while I browsed the job market -- a "cushion," if you will. This plan came crashing down when I officially withdrew, and was informed I had to write the school a reimbursement check, ASAP.
"Like how ASAP is ASAP?" I asked. They said unless I wanted a collection agency involved, ASAP.
The threat of poverty now looming, I began a feverish job search, somehow landing a position writing for a tech news site, feigning fluency (and interest) in things like intranet portals, document management and enterprise software. So far so good, but check back with me next year. Maybe even a month or two. I'll probably be training to be a chef because I like food.
Follow Courtney Garcia on Twitter: www.twitter.com/courtgarcia