Everyone always asks me if my mom "influenced" or "encouraged" me to go to law school. Well, not exactly.
The truth is, my mom, in her infinite wisdom, flat-out tricked me into becoming a lawyer.
My junior year of college, I got to read novels and poetry in the sunshine day after day (UCLA, English major) and this was considered getting an education and not frittering my life away. Yet storm clouds were gathering. I knew that that wretched day was coming -- Graduation Day. These blissful, halcyon times would end, and I'd be unceremoniously dumped into that hideous, dark place known as the real world.
I wasn't the first to stare down this wretched fate, of course, so I quickly learned from others who had gone before me. Two words, beautifully vague. Graduate school.
Grad school was chock full of options, and none of them required me to put on pantyhose or pumps. Forestry. Hospital management. French medieval literature. Best of all, grad school stretched gloriously on for years, with no predetermined ending. Wan, sallow adults I knew worked on their theses for decades, happily scribbling away deep in the stacks of the university library.
Other than a dicey incident with a flasher in the stacks, which I describe in my new book, Think, my carrel deep down in the earth's molten core was my happy, cozy place. Grad school - that would be it for me!
My mother smiled weakly when she heard my plan. "Oh, grad school?" she said. "There's nothing wrong with that," she said, damning with faint praise. "I guess that could work for you."
Do you know her -- feminist attorney Gloria Allred? Quick story. She once pursued an Italian man who she believed battered and then murdered a young American mother all the way to Europe, fighting for years in both the U.S. and Italy to get him prosecuted. ("There were only two people there at the time of her death," Italian authorities told her, more or less. "One is dead, and the other says he didn't do it, so what do you want us to do?" "ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?" she didn't say, though I would have. She doggedly pushed the cops to examine the crime scene evidence -- duh -- his history of threatening to kill her if she got custody, and the remarkable coincidence that she died in his apartment just after she won custody of their daughter and when she came to pick her up.) Finally, after my mom petitioned, called, and met with reps of the U.S. State Department, the FBI, and every relevant Italian law enforcement agency, prosecutor and government agency, someone saw the light, or was just worn out by my mother's relentless badgering, and he was put on trial for murder, in Italy. On the witness stand, while he was testifying - I am not making this up - he dropped dead.
So, I don't really like being on the wrong side of my mother.
But she was smart enough to soft sell me on law school.
"Hey, just for fun, why don't you take the LSAT? It doesn't have to mean anything," she said.
Somehow it not meaning anything was an appealing selling point to my carefree college self. Somehow that did sound like fun!
Turns out I had a freakish, idiot savant aptitude for the law school admissions test, especially for the Logic Games section, cheesy word puzzles where you had to figure out that if the German guy in the blue hat is in the corner room next to the Dutch guy in the black hat, and neither wanted to be across from the English guy in the blue hat, then , naturally, the French guy in the red beret was in room 7. Somehow it just made sense to me, in the way that all electronic devices are intuitively obvious to my son now. According to the College Board people, I was a shoo-in for a career in law.
"Just apply to law schools," my mother suggested. "It doesn't have to mean anything. You don't have to accept."
Kids, in those days -- the Pleistocene era -- credit card applications were lengthy and difficult and law school applications were brief and simple. I knocked out a half dozen of the latter on a lazy Sunday afternoon, taped nickels on the corners for postage, or however we sent things before email, and popped them in the mailbox.
Because there were only a few hundred people on Planet Earth at that time, a correctly addressed envelope basically got you in to the law school of your choice.
"Just accept at all the top schools," my mother advised. "You can always withdraw later if you don't feel like going."
Next thing I knew, three years passed, I'm standing there in pantyhose and pumps, right hand raised, promising to protect the constitution. The swearing-in judge says, "the lawyers may sit down," and we all whoop. Twenty-five years later, I'm still practicing law, hoping one day to get it right.
OK, fine: thanks, Mom.
This year, my daughter, Sarah, was staring down her own college graduation.She majored in Communications (whatever that is) with a minor in Sorority Good Times, unsure what her future plans should be.
"Why don't you just take the LSAT?" I asked her. "It doesn't have to mean anything."
Lisa Bloom is a the founder and managing partner of The Bloom Firm in Los Angeles, a CBS News Legal Analyst, and the author of the New York Times bestseller, THINK: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World (Vanguard, 2011).
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