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Law Student Confidential: Not What or Where I Thought I Would Be

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

The ninth chapter in a project witnessing and learning more about fellow law students and their motivation behind moving their life & family all the way to Missoula, Montana to pursue their legal education. Meet Alisa.​

Why Law School? I have been grappling with this question. But ultimately, I needed some job security. I was struggling to make ends meet, working seasonal jobs, applying to job after job in my undergraduate and graduate field (Environmental Biology), and getting nowhere. It was when I needed a root canal and couldn’t afford one that I decided: I can’t live like this. I had friends who went to law school and they were gainfully employed, so obviously as a logical conclusion, if I went to law school I would be gainfully employed too.

I felt like law school would open doors that were seemingly locked to me. Previously, I had earned a B.S. in Environmental Biology and a M.S. in Hydrology and Natural Resources- I figured a Law Degree with an emphasis on environmental and water law would be the ticket! Job offers and money would be flowing in by the time I was done with my J.D.

I don’t have any lawyers in my family. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I started school not knowing the difference between a plaintiff and defendant. I was way behind the steep learning curve. Every day I walked through the doors of ABIII I felt like I was going into battle. A battle I was losing.

Law school was a bear. It wasn’t so much mentally difficult as it was mentally exhausting. I read every word assigned. I burned the midnight oil, I attended every class, I formed study groups, I did background reading, and I got C’s. I was a 4.0 student in everything I had done before this legal adventure. I was beatdown and I was tired. But I struggled and made it through. I ended up loving topics that I didn’t even know were offered in law: tax, secured transactions, business organizations. At the end of school, I cracked the code and even earned a few A’s.

So, did the job offers come pouring in? Am I being offered seven-figure salaries for my brilliance? No. I worked hard and got an internship during school that was supposed to lead to modest employment. My employer was going to pay for a year of legal specification in the form on an LL.M. and then hire me to learn under his tutelage. And then the COVID-19 virus took the world by storm.

Through inept governance and lack of scientific awareness, the Coronavirus shut down the world’s economy in a flash. I along with, as of now, sixteen million others lost my job. It is hard times are thousands of people die every day, millions are left hungry, and every single person is unclear on what the future holds.

So now here I am, looking down the backside of this incredible journey. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, and I’m not where I thought I would be. But that is ok. It turns out getting a J.D. does open doors. While I may not be practicing in Missoula, Montana or in the anticipated field of business and tax, I am equipped and will be licensed (god willing) to take my education and help people through this uncertainty. A J.D. offers the opportunity to work and help others. Now more than ever, people need help, they need guidance and assurances. I can take what I know and apply it to today’s misfortune. Heaven knows that this isn’t the first barrier that I have crossed, and it won’t be the last.

A legal education is a profound experience. My legal forecast may not be as lucrative as I had anticipated, but it is security. I am unsure of what the future holds, but I am open to the endless possibilities and transformation of a fluid and vibrant practice and for that I am eternally grateful for the opportunity and ability to go to law school.


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