Nov 7, 2005

Challenges and Opportunities, or, Failing with an asterisk

"You were guaranteed to fail if you didn't try."

I started law school in the fall of 1999 in Boston. Being a fairly antilogical sort, the form of thinking and applying factors to fact patterns a law student is expected to accomplish didn't ever suit me all that well. Until I entered my first class I had been good at pretty much everything I tried. I was an honors student, enjoyed being in the library for research and studying, and was otherwise very engaged in all aspects of student life and learning. Law school knocked nearly all of the wind out of my neurological confidence. In my third year I also encountered the death of a dear friend, a tough breakup, and a family explosion wherein my father abruptly left his position as parent and husband. When it came time to sign up for the bar after graduation I simply didn't feel up to it. Instead, I moved to DC, started a music management company, and subsequently began work with the good FMC folks where I continue to be employed. What I didn't do was ever get around to taking the test that would symbolize my completion of the most challenging task I have yet attempted: becoming a lawyer. So, 3 years after I shook hands with the dean and took the degree that now serves as a sun shield over my computer monitor, I decided I was finally up to the task of finishing what I started. If one follows the normal path, she graduates and then commences a full-time study regime that includes an intensive review course or two for the 2 months prior to the test. As my friend Claire put it, "we wouldn't want you to go and be all normal now." I wasn't in a position to take a leave of absence from my job to study, so set up a schedule wherein I awoke at 6am every morning to memorize things for 2 hours, then went straight home after work at 6pm to put in another 4 hours of review. From 10am-5pm on Saturdays and Sundays, I participated in an essay-writing workshop to help with the Maryland portion of the exam.

This was a huge step in putting behind me a fairly dark chapter in my life. I'm proud of the work ethic I was able to dig out of myself, but in the end my effort wasn't sufficient for the Maryland Board of Bar Examiners. The hill that required me to remember substantive subject matter I had learned and put away 6 years before while holding down a full-time job proved too steep. The good news is that I came close, but for me simply taking the test and sheperding myself through the rigorous studying was enough for this go-round. I will sign up for February's exam and do it all again, but better. How I love to bang my head against a hard wall!


nm said...

oh well, you still deserve a hearty congratulations for having studied so hard and taken the exam. congratulations!

Newley said...

James Michener said, "Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries." Here's to only having to try twice!

wharman said...

Thanks guys... I forgot to mention that I strongly dislike arguing, which also predisposes me to being a poor attorney. I'm just sweet. Like tea in south georgia.

frans said...

wendy, you are one of my favorite people. let me know if you need any help for the next time a ride (minus crack booby sightings) or a nice thick steak to get you through a study session - you know i like to grill!