It’s here; that final autumn. For the past two years, I’ve been trapped in an ivory tower and yet, in a few short months, I’ll be shipped off with my freshly pressed shirt, polished shoes, and leather briefcase. But for now, I sit. In class. In the Public Interest Project Office. In meetings. The old mantra is that “1L (first year) they scare you to death; 2L (second year) they work you to death; and 3L (third year) they bore you to death.” I can certainly attest to the first two parts; I was shaking in my sneakers during most of my first year of law school. Will I get cold-called? Will I know the answer? Will someone laugh at me if I’m wrong? Will I get a job? Did I make the right decision leaving behind my teaching to pursue a career that has produced some of the most influential and corrupt individuals in America?
By my second year, I didn’t have time for these questions. I was lucky enough to have a myriad of opportunities from participating in the Civil Litigation Clinic in housing, employment, family, and disability law to competing in the Stone and Albers Moot Courts to internships and pro bono work. These tasks kept my full attention, drawing me into the recluse of the library or the OutLaw office until late at night. And yet, I’ve emerged for the fall to see a new gaggle of 1Ls have flocked to the Tower, a 2L class that I barely know or recognize, and my peer 3Ls with an impressive array of experiences.
And I sit. You see, in your 3L year, you do have the time to be “bored,” but you also have time to reflect on the questions and experiences that have plagued you for the past two years. Once again, you ask yourself, “Did I make the right decision? Was the legal practice everything that Ally McBeal and Drop Dead Diva prepared me? (We’ll ignore The Practice much to my mother’s chagrin; I had no hope of practicing criminal law) Where am I going? Who will hire me? Why would anyone hire me? What do I have to offer someone that they would pay me hundreds of dollars per hour? Did I make the most out of my experience and time in law school?”
Then I stop. I take a few breaths. And I realize that the last question is the only one question that matters right now. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t be concerned or scared about finding a job (I’m very concerned and petrified, in fact), but, above all, I want to let my third and final year of law school guide me with experiencing everything that law school has available to me. I believe that is the cure for 3L-itis. Some friends suggest that you should explore opportunities out of the tower, such as an externship, a clinic, or studying abroad. Yet, these are all means to the same end. To experience, for perhaps the last time, the full range of legal, academic, and social opportunities available while a student.
But it’s more than that. I want the opportunity to engage with my fellow students, the top-notch faculty, the gregarious staff and administration, and the talented alumni in new ways. For those reasons, I am proud to serve as Public Interest Project Co-President. Further, I hope to take full advantage of participating in the law school community through community service, social events, and general conversation with new and old friends. I will actively fight against the boredom and complacency that comes from feeling too comfortable. I want to remember these moments, this fear, this excitement for the rest of my life. “And if you’re not scared, it just means you’re not sticking out your neck far enough” (Glee, 2012).