You probably already know this, but in case you’re new around here, I’m an attorney. Now, I’m more so on the Legally Blonde scale and totally not on the My Cousin Vinny scale, but I’m an attorney nonetheless. I work as corporate counsel for a large family of companies. It’s my dream job, and a perfect fit for me. I’ve been through more years of school than I care to count. Going to law school is a tough decision to make. It’s hard to get in, and even harder to get through. So why did I go to law school?
1. Because I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up.
When I was in elementary school, I told everyone that I wanted to be an attorney because I liked to argue (Chauncey will tell you that’s still true). And I had lofty ambitions–I went to fifth grade career day as the first woman president of the United States. I believed I could do anything I set my mind to because my family and teachers told me so. Seriously. I had no notion of a glass ceiling. I had no notion that I was going up against the odds, being an eventual first generation college student (my mom has since graduated from college) from a rural area that was steeped in poverty. What I did have were dreams that were sky high and a support team that built the scaffolding for me to reach them. My family always believed in me, took up for me, and pushed me to do my best plus a little more.
2. Because a romance novel painted a picture in my head.
I clung to those dreams through middle school and high school. When people told me I would never obtain my goals, it drove me towards achieving them that much harder. In high school, though, I started questioning if I really wanted to be a lawyer. I thought about pharmacy for a while, but knew my heart wasn’t in it. Then I became fascinated with business because of some romance novels I read by Judith McNaught. . . what can I say? Sometimes inspiration comes where you least expect it. Her heroines were self-sufficient, confident women, who had powerful careers as businesswomen. Business thrilled me and excited me. So I shelved the law school idea for a while, but was still set on the idea of being a mover and shaker.
4. Because Elle Woods inspired a whole generation of young women.
I still love the movie Legally Blonde! Legally Blonde actually humanized the concept of law school for me. I loved how self-confident she was, and that she was no holds barred while being herself. I mean, that courtroom scene was epic. Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods make the profession seem so exciting! Thank you, Elle Woods, for also teaching me that lawyers can be stylish and kick butt at the same time!
5. Because it fit well with my business degree.
After my sophomore year of undergrad, I decided that I was going to get my MBA. I had some very important professors, with one in particular (here’s to you, Dr. Mitch!) that pushed me to excel to and beyond my limits–always encouraging me to go farther and reach higher. This was around the same time I transferred from the convenience store I was working at to the insurance company that was under the same family of companies. I worked for some amazing people that became mentors to me, and they encouraged me along with my awesome family. Then I had a fateful conversation with a local doctor, who oh so casually mentioned that you could get a joint MBA and JD (law degree). Ok, done. That’s what I decided I would do. Everything in the business world is so legal, so the two just went hand-in-hand. Suddenly, I was going to accomplish everything I had ever truly wanted. I was so sure of myself that I never even thought twice that I wouldn’t get in (after I went to law school, I realized how crazy I was for thinking that!).
That said. . .
Guys, I didn’t even know what it took to get into law school! I just made up my mind that I was going and that was it. Everything else would fall into place, right? Well, I knew you had to take the LSAT for law school and the GMAT for the MBA program. What I didn’t realize was that the LSAT was only offered a handful of times a year on certain dates. By the time I realized it going into my senior year, I had boxed myself into a bad spot. I ended up taking the LSAT and the GMAT twice each within two and a half months, from October to December of my senior year of undergrad. Clearly, I was a glutton for punishment. I didn’t even study the first time I took each of the exams, and scored high enough to get into both programs. I was so excited when I received my LSAT score, then I remember going to class, sitting down beside one of my best friends, and telling her that I was going to law school. I studied a little the second time around with each, but actually did 2 points worse on the LSAT the second time around. Go figure.
I only applied to one school–the University of Kentucky. I was getting married the summer in-between undergrad and law school, and Chauncey’s job was in Lexington. Um, and I may or may not have written in one of my admissions essays something to the effect that there were only three schools in the state that offered my program, but UK was the only one I could go to, because Northern Kentucky was too far away and as a UK sports fan, I couldn’t bring myself to apply to the University of Louisville (true story). I believed in myself so much that I was convinced UK wouldn’t turn me down. AND THEY DIDN’T!!!
The rest, as they say, is history. While I was accepted into the joint JD/MBA program at UK, there were some scheduling conflicts, so I actually did law school at UK and then completed my MBA at Morehead State University after I graduated. I went in-house for the same family of company that I started working for when I was 18 years old, as a clerk in one of their convenience stores.
Law school is such a personal choice. It can be a very miserable three years. You shouldn’t go to law school unless it is really what you want to do and your life wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t go, because honestly, I hated 70% of law school. But in the end, it was so worth it. I grew immeasurably as a person and truly developed my core values and beliefs. I learned invaluable lessons, both in law and in life. And most importantly, I achieved the dreams of a little girl who was shooting for the stars!