Law in Contemporary Society

View   r1
MariZaldivarSecondEssay 1 - 09 Jun 2017 - Main.MariZaldivar
Line: 1 to 1
META TOPICPARENT name="SecondEssay"
It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.

More than Law School

-- By MariZaldivar - 09 Jun 2017

I wrote in my first essay about how 1L constantly made me feel like I wasn’t enough or as good as everyone around me, but how I was going to stick it out because law school was the most effective way of working on issues that have long weighed on me.

I came very close to turning in an essay that pushed this idea forward, but I changed my mind last minute. I wrote that even though law school is a weird place, it’s only 3 years to be able to spend a lifetime of achieving one’s personalized goals. I wrote about how I didn’t want to lose sight of the ultimate goal I had to further these social justice goals in the midst of all the chatter about grades and EIP, and how I would take concrete steps such as actively seeking out clinics and externships that would allow me to have tangible experiences with the issues that I feel ground me.

Everything I wrote was true, but I still wasn’t being honest. My paper conveniently skirted the very real internal disarray in which 1L had left me. Truthfully, I’m still sorting it all out, but I think if I can boil it down to one sentence, what I learned after a year of law school is that it is at this point more important to ask myself the kind of person I want to be (or currently am), and let this inform how I ultimately answer the question of what kind of lawyer I want to be.


In my last essay, you noted that I could make my draft stronger by criticizing the “race I’m falling behind” narrative that blinds students to real life questions. I wasn’t sure what you meant at the time, but I think I’ve at least come close after a couple weeks of reflection, so I’ll address it here.

I got the distinct feeling after a year in law school that I hadn’t been focusing on the right things for a long time. For the first time in my almost two decades of schooling, my diligent work and formulaic approach to learning was not yielding the tangible results I was anticipating. Around April, I started to have an existential crisis, and I didn’t know why. I now realize that pretty much my entire life, I had hinged my self worth almost entirely on my ability to fit this very specific mold of what a “successful” individual looks like, and my ability to follow the progression of becoming a “successful” person: good grades throughout middle and high school, acceptance into an elite college, academic accolades, professional advancement, etc. I was largely uncritical of this process, probably because it worked for me. I studied hard, filled out applications, put my time in, and saw results.

But something about law school made it all seem so futile. Maybe it was the fact that the first semester hadn’t gone as I hoped, and the fact that I could spend so much of my life on Civil Procedure for months and it could just ultimately culminate in an unsatisfying “B”. Is that really what it all amounts to? Sometime in April, I realized that I was approaching this whole life thing the wrong way, and it has taken me until this version of my reflection (please excuse the lateness) to really grapple with that.

What really flipped the switch in my head was meeting people outside of law school with different life experiences. I recently reconnected with an old friend from middle school that I had lost touch with over the years. She took me to this little bar in the South Street Seaport where all of her friends from Pace had been meeting up for years. This bar was interesting because the locals that frequent it come from so many different backgrounds. There are young students, old men from Europe in rock bands, a British bartender that knows everything about music, and it’s just so full of life. Most of the people I’ve met at this bar don’t have ivy league pedigrees and the ones that do are so much more than their degrees. A lot of these people work several jobs, travel the world, are largely self taught, and yet are more critical and thought provoking than most of the people I have met throughout my long stint in “prestigious” institutions. In fact, I have had more interesting and stimulating conversations in that bar during the span of a few (long) nights than I have had all year in law school. That’s when I realized that I had had blinders on for most of my life, and I had been missing something.

What Now?

I want to guide the next two years of law school with two goals in mind. First of all, I want to develop my sense of self outside of law school and outside of my professional goals. I have a hunch that in order to be a good and effective lawyer, at least in the long term, it will be necessary to be an individual outside of that occupation.

Secondly, I want to find some way to break the rules. This is something that you mentioned in class a few times. In law school, like we have been for most of our lives, we are herded like cattle through orientation, first year courses, small group sections, EIP, etc. Something about the process is so stifling, seems to churn out the same kind of people with the same patterns of thought. Honestly, I don’t know exactly how I will do this, but it feels important. I’ll know to keep my eyes out for opportunities to break the rules and, especially, I’ll keep my eyes out for the Mari that exists outside of law school, outside of studying, the good grades and prestigious institutions. At the very least, my first year of law school has shown me this.

You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable. To restrict access to your paper simply delete the "#" character on the next two lines:

Note: TWiki has strict formatting rules for preference declarations. Make sure you preserve the three spaces, asterisk, and extra space at the beginning of these lines. If you wish to give access to any other users simply add them to the comma separated ALLOWTOPICVIEW list.

Revision 1r1 - 09 Jun 2017 - 06:05:27 - MariZaldivar
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM