Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Graduate School

So.... let's say you are a law student, going to law school... or maybe you are a med student, going to be a doctor.... So you're in graduate school right? Hey... so am I!! Hmmm... but I'm just in seminary... right? That can't be near as hard? All you do is sit around and pray... right?

Let me propose a little scenario... You are a law student. You feel like something in your life has finally pushed you or prodded you to go to this school, put your life on hold and pay all sorts of money to go to graduate school. So you go. And at first, everything is hunky dorey (sp? whatever....) And your classes are insanely interesting, they make you think, they make you excited about what you're doing. Then you get to your second semester. Now the classes are different. Now you are learning about the origins of law in this country, in wherever you grew up, but you're learning about a different kind of law than you are used to. You are learning about the laws in such a way that they no longer feel like they apply to you, like maybe they don't have any value to you any more, because how are the even relevant to today's society? So then you also start learning about other systems of law around the world. And those seem to also work nicely, but some of them also seem to suck beyond all belief. But all of them seem valid. All of them also seem like they are useful, and could apply to society around the world. And some of them also seem to say that they are the ONLY way to run a country's system of laws, or otherwise your country doesn't even deserve to exist.

Now you're to the point that you are questioning the existence of laws anywhere. Do they really exist? Who teaches them to us? What makes them important? Meanwhile, why you are questioning them, you realize you are questioning the very reason you even came to law school. If you believed in this country's system of laws so much, then why would you even be thinking these things? Or why are you thinking these things now that you know all of this about the rest of the world, and the rest of these systems of thinking.

But in the mean time, you also have a full-time job that they label as only a "student" position. Which the pay still puts you under the poverty level, could qualify you for section 8 housing, and can qualify you for food stamps, but you also worry about "working the system" so you don't take advantage of any of them, you just take a second job. But in this first job, this first "student" position, you are expected to act as if you are a full-time lawyer. You are expected to know everything that someone who has passed the bar exam would know, while at the same tim still learning those same things. You are also expected to guide your clients in the right direction, giving them advice on how to follow the law, on what to do when they are in trouble, and to defend them, well because they ARE your clients. But this is in only one type of law. You are only practicing one kind of law, but are expected to be gaining experience in all types of law, through something... maybe your dreams?

So... somehow, you manage to make it through school, through your school work. You try to separate your personal feelings about the law, whether or not you even believe in it any more, from the academic side, and also be a law scholar. So you manage that... all while still wondering if "laws" even exist. What's the point... what do laws actually do? People break them all the time, and never pay attention. They half-ass pay attention, like when they put a seat belt on, just because they pass a copy.... but you are still supposed to interpret, understand, uphold, and teach this law to your clients when they come to you.

Now.... let's say you are studying for the Bar. Granted, that is a hard task. But on top of that, you've also been going through an interview process that has taken up the entire time you are in graduate school. A group of 5 - 15 people have been selected, pretty much at random, and are going to determine whether or not you are going to be a good lawyer, and reflect what they understand your job to be. Never mind what you think your job should be, even if you intend to explain it to them.... even if you pass the Bar.... these people are going to determine whether or not you receive your license to practice law. But instead of them being just random people, they are your "clients." They are going to "partake" of your services, of all kinds. They expect you to know all about their specific needs and to answer those needs at some point in this three year interview process. And all in all, whether or not you become a lawyer, is dependent on them. They have a final interview. Some of them may be professional mothers who don't understand constitutional law from Nemo, their son's favorite cartoon. But they care about you, and your journey... so you are expected to relate that to them. Some could also be lawyers themselves, or maybe they've taken a few law classes, or maybe they are professors of law at a different school. Or maybe they are the wife or husband of a lawyer, so their view of lawyers is a little jaded. Or maybe they know something about law, somewhere in the middle. But all in all... THEY determine whether or not they will support you and "recommend" you to be a lawyer. It doesn't matter how much or how little THEY actually understand law... but they determine if you are capable of doing that for others. They determine if you actually understand it, even though they might not.... think they do, or have no idea one way or another.

Now you graduate.... and you are going to be paid less than 15% of what most people around the world, who also have a graduate degree are making. Yet, you also worked this other ridiculous second job while you were in graduate school, and you most likely have the most student loans out of anyone you know who went to graduate school.

So YES, we do pray.... A LOT.... but welcome to a little of my experience.... :)

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