– Hodgson, Roger, The Logical Song, Supertramp, Breakfast in America, LP, A&M, 1979.
I truly thought I wanted to be an attorney when I grew up. I’m not sure where the idea started. Perhaps I watched too many reruns of Perry Mason. Or was it Katherine Hepburn in Adams Rib that swayed me? I recall a friend telling me that I first mentioned law school when we were in junior high. Seems odd now. I remember writing in my diary that I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. I think that was in junior high, as well.
For whatever unfathomable reason, I did pursue a legal career. I excelled in high school, won a scholarship to college, where I studied political science, the default major for pre-law students. Oh, I did take other courses and electives, all of which I enjoyed more: film, history, English literature. That should have been a red flag. But I blustered on, studying, prepping for the LSAT.
I arrived at law school full of ideals and energy. And proceeded to fall from my lofty place at the top of my undergraduate class to the very middle of my law school class—right where the bell curve broke. I enjoyed some of the work, the logic, the argument. But I had a difficult time with the concepts.
Once I could write with joy and creativity. But that’s discouraged in the law. Prescribed formats must be followed, conventions observed. Legal writing has its own arc and rhythm. Storytelling is not encouraged. Thesis is followed by legal principle, followed by citation of supporting authorities, followed by argument. Strings of citations. The longer the better. The weight of the argument is bolstered by the number of supporting cases cited. Take yourself out of the equation. Emotion is not permitted.
Off into the real world of law I graduated—but not before a minor nervous breakdown in my third year. Suddenly, the future didn’t look so bright, so clear-cut. What was I doing here? Where was I headed? But I decided it was too late to turn back from my chosen path. I’d invested too many years, too many student loans to stop now. So I went out into the world, hoping to shake off my doubts.
Three months of studying for the notoriously difficult New York State bar exam. Nine months of job-seeking, because graduating in the middle of the class doesn’t bring a lot of job offers, especially in a recession. Finally, a job in litigation—right where I thought I belonged. But I didn’t. I wasn’t aggressive enough, not tough enough. Still I soldiered on. I sat for three other state bar exams, worked in litigation for 15 years. I went to work for the state as a deputy attorney general for another 2 years. Finally, one day, I quit.