Law School Destroyed my mental health

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Gus Fring

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Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby Gus Fring » Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:54 pm

I got accepted to a t-13 and I thought it was all uphill from there. However, I ended up .3 below median and I of course struck out at oci and I massmailed hundreds of firms around the country to no avail. This 11 months since I've received my 1l first semester grades has wrecked me mentally. It has been failure after failure from my shitty 1L summer job where I did zero legal work, to networking with a bunch of ppl none of whom were helpful. I've been in a depressive state for a while and I sometimes break down and cry for no reason and I'm not seeking mental help. Going to law school was a terrible decision.

nixy

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Re: Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby nixy » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:55 pm

Dude, you’re not wrong at all, and I feel for you, but seek mental help. Even where the depression is situational (eg caused by your circumstances), professionals can help you.

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UVA2B

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Re: Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby UVA2B » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:58 pm

I'm sorry law school hasn't worked out the way you hoped before you decided to attend. That's a difficult spot to be in, and I hope you find a way out of it.

I'm not sure if you're looking for advice here, so I'll just ask a few questions:

1. Do you still want to be an attorney, considering what you know of the profession so far?
2. Assuming yes to #1, what are you currently doing and what kind of jobs are you currently looking at?
3. If you're doubting law school as a whole, what do you think you'd like to do if you decided to drop out?
4. What else could you do if it wasn't law school and the legal profession?

Separately, based solely on your personal/mental health:

1. What are you doing to find happiness in your personal life?
2. Are you not open to speaking to someone about where you are personally and emotionally? Does your school have resources available to talk?
3. What support system do you have if you decided to make a life/career change, and do you think they'd receive it positively if you decided to change?
4. What do you think will bring you sustaining happiness in your life?

There are so many other questions and points that a trained professional will be qualified to engage, but since this is just an online forum, let's try to start with the basics so you can start to work out what you can do to improve on where you are now.

Go Nats!

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Re: Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby Go Nats! » Thu Dec 06, 2018 3:02 pm

Look, I bombed my 1L year at UVA. I did so badly that when I asked a Professor for assistance regarding my exam I was politely informed that maybe I should think about dropping out. My GPA was much, much worse compared to what you're saying. No one really knows what to do with people who don't do that well; not career services and not professors and its not like people want to talk about their crappy grades. I put up a good front for my law school friends and my family but those three years were incredibly demoralizing and the only time in my life that I felt trapped by my own decisions. It was the only time I every felt truly depressed.

But I stuck through it. I networked and I networked and I networked and used every connection I had until I found something. And now I'm happier than I've ever been with a great career. The only important lesson I learned from law school is this: the time you spend ruminating instead of learning from your failures is a waste of valuable time. You didn't do so hot. You didn't kill it at OCI. Whatever. You're still at a T-13 and the prestige that comes with it. You have an alumni network. You have friends at this school that can alert you if they find out opportunities. Pick yourself up and use those.

And go see a therapist. You need someone to tell you that this is not the end of the world. You'll be fine. Just get to to work.

Npret

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Re: Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby Npret » Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:30 pm

Gus Fring wrote:I got accepted to a t-13 and I thought it was all uphill from there. However, I ended up .3 below median and I of course struck out at oci and I massmailed hundreds of firms around the country to no avail. This 11 months since I've received my 1l first semester grades has wrecked me mentally. It has been failure after failure from my shitty 1L summer job where I did zero legal work, to networking with a bunch of ppl none of whom were helpful. I've been in a depressive state for a while and I sometimes break down and cry for no reason and I'm not seeking mental help. Going to law school was a terrible decision.

You need to get mental health assistance. Your school should have something available for students. If you don’t get mental health assistance, you will make finding a job much harder than it already is - you won’t have the energy to apply and you won’t come across well in interviews.

You should know that you aren’t the only person to feel this way. T-13 students are typically high academic achievers and expect they will do well based on past performance. To not do as well as expected and not have a job, is devastating. You are not the only T13 student in this position, even though it seems that everyone else has a job. They don’t.

All that said, deciding that law was a bad decision and doing something else is also viable. Many people regret going to law school. You won’t be alone in that either.

Good luck.

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BeeTeeZ

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Re: Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby BeeTeeZ » Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:15 pm

Gus Fring wrote:I've been in a depressive state for a while and I sometimes break down and cry for no reason and I'm not seeking mental help. Going to law school was a terrible decision.


Not asking for help when you need it is a bad decision. Attending one of the most prestigious law schools in the world was not. Get the help you need and you'll see how bright your future is.

Sampson521

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Re: Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby Sampson521 » Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:52 am

Agree with the last two posts and am reminded of the airplane announcement: “affix your own oxygen mask before helping others.”

In this case, “oxygen mask” is your mental health, and “helping others” is your legal and professional career.

Life is long. Careers are long. Pain is temporary. “Bad” is relative. As tertible as you feel, and as permanent as it seems, I assure you it is neither of those things.

I would not make any lasting decisions about your career or life until your mental health is under control. There are big things in life (your child dies, you lose your legs, etc.). Sub-median law school grades are not one of them. I’m not minimizing how important this feels to you, but am trying to add perspective.

Keep at it. Get well, then make some decisions. Don’t try to do both at once.

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Wild Card

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Re: Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby Wild Card » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:55 am

Yes, but you knew that it could happen to you.

I went to a "T6" and knew many people who struck out. I myself almost struck out. You're fucking crazy to go anywhere but HYSCC or a lower-ranked school on very substantial scholarship.

Npret

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Re: Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby Npret » Sat Dec 08, 2018 5:59 am

Wild Card wrote:Yes, but you knew that it could happen to you.

I went to a "T6" and knew many people who struck out. I myself almost struck out. You're fucking crazy to go anywhere but HYSCC or a lower-ranked school on very substantial scholarship.


1. OP obviously didn’t expect this to happen. Hiring has improved to the point people dont talk about striking out. OP could just as easily been too 10% and employed. It’s not predictable or obvious that OP (or anyone) will not get jobs from OCI or otherwise when they start school. It doesn’t help that this site helps encourage people to think once they are accepted to a T13 they are in the door at big law.

It’s not factual that only people from T6 schools have reasonable employment stats. Nice humble brag, I guess?

If I was advising certainty I would say just go to Yale because they help repay loans no matter what you end up
doing.

2. OPs depression and mental health aren’t helped by saying “you should have known this could happen.”
It’s irrelevant to the situation.

cavalier1138

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Re: Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:14 am

Npret wrote:
Wild Card wrote:Yes, but you knew that it could happen to you.

I went to a "T6" and knew many people who struck out. I myself almost struck out. You're fucking crazy to go anywhere but HYSCC or a lower-ranked school on very substantial scholarship.


1. OP obviously didn’t expect this to happen. Hiring has improved to the point people dont talk about striking out. OP could just as easily been too 10% and employed. It’s not predictable or obvious that OP (or anyone) will not get jobs from OCI or otherwise when they start school. It doesn’t help that this site helps encourage people to think once they are accepted to a T13 they are in the door at big law.

It’s not factual that only people from T6 schools have reasonable employment stats. Nice humble brag, I guess?

If I was advising certainty I would say just go to Yale because they help repay loans no matter what you end up
doing.

2. OPs depression and mental health aren’t helped by saying “you should have known this could happen.”
It’s irrelevant to the situation.


All of this.

And seriously, who the fuck prods someone with mental health issues by telling them that (a) they were crazy and (b) they should have known better?

judgepayne

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Re: Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby judgepayne » Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:29 pm

This happened to me. It was a very isolating 2L and 3L year. I was gradually able to reconcile that I might not have the prestige or options that I felt I should have been able to attain through biglaw. You gotta get over that, and you can. BUT the true dread that stuck was that of the massive debt that any other job wouldn't be able to service. I'm in my first year out of law school and without a lot of help from my family, I'd be screwed when it comes to the debt.

I am confident you will be able to land at least a 50-60k job. City attny office, small law firm, DA office, personal injury. Just do it because you obviously need to get some job. Lower your expectations. This might be a traumatic process at first (it was for me) because you are overqualified and had high expectations. However, whichever area of law you gravitate towards, you will easily rationalize why practicing in this area of law is fine for now. You will be happy and relieved to have A job.

I'd say your main problem is figuring out how you will tackle the debt in your initial years out of law school.

I'm really hoping you make it through alright. I remember every day being a slog. I want to say it got better throughout law school, but I also constantly needed ways to cope. Lean on family and friends and express what you are going through (although they won't quite get it). You can do this.

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UBETutoring

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Re: Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby UBETutoring » Mon Dec 10, 2018 1:04 pm

I can empathize as someone who went to a similar, if not better-ranked school and basically had top-10% grades my 1L year, but nearly struck out due largely to a congenital speech impediment. At some interviews, people laughed, looked noticeably uncomfortable or straight out asked why I'd be foolish enough to go to law school. I may not have been the best interviewer outside of that, but am outgoing funny and never had social problems. My speech impediment didn't preclude me from starting a business based largely on communication and interpersonal skills that grossed six-figures before law school.

At the time, there was very much a feeling of "even if I'm the best, I'll always lose because of something beyond my control", which leads to a sense of hopelessness and woe is me mentality that isn't good for anyone's health and makes a previously good personality become insufferable. It was highly destructive to my self-worth and ethics. I ultimately realized that the big law world is a little bit like the South before the Civil War - they're on the wrong side of history and may foster ignorance, but that doesn't mean that they're bad people. Just like it took them an extra quarter century to hire blacks, Jews and change sexist/homophobic policies, eventually they'll stop discriminating against people like me.

Ultimately, the free market favors talent and talent wins out. The income balances out, and between a cushy in-house job and my own company, I earn as much as I would had I never been discriminated against with a lot of stability and growth potential. I also feel that while I was previously a pretty anxious person, the experience of falling to what felt like rock bottom and rising has made me feel somewhat impregnable, which will undoubtedly be critical to the experiences that will follow.

I don't think the experience of getting bad 1L grades is entirely dissimilar in that you are also struggling to reach your goal, and feel an understandable sense of hopelessness. Plus, you're in an environment where most of your peers reached that goal, which is detrimental to your self-esteem as you feel everyone obtained something you so desperately wanted except for you.

The big law ship has likely sailed, but it isn't the only pathway to success and statistically speaking, the odds of segueing big law to becoming a millionaire are astronomically high to begin with. There are many other paths to >$200k/year. You need to identify what you're good at - whether it be research, writing, analysis, etc. and start applying for jobs that take advantage of that. A lot of people will say to do what you love or are passionate about. I think that's bullshit. Passion is for your partner and hobbies. Work is about doing shit you're good at and getting paid. Identify stuff you're good at, and do it. Apply to a shit ton of jobs, and meet a shit ton of people. If you keep putting yourself in 1% situations with 0 risks, you'll eventually have success. You'll likely start with a fraction of your peers' salary, but focus on the long-term.

cdm19901990

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Re: Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby cdm19901990 » Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:28 pm

This is actually my first post. I read the OP's post and felt like he was describing me, so I thought I would share my story. I too attended a T13 and went into OCI being .03 below the median. I graduated from an Ivy League undergrad with honors and worked incredibly hard my first year, but did not receive the grades I hoped for.

First, I can completely empathize with his feelings of depression, disappointment, and isolation, and I 100% implore him to go get help. When I eventually got help I was diagnosed with depression and the treatment + prescription I undertook really turned my life around.

Second, if big law is really what the OP wants to do, I do not think that the door is as tightly shut as above posts make it seem. All though I was not one of them, I know of several classmates who received offers in the Spring of 2L year or who lateraled up from mid law to big law during 3L. It takes a lot of hustle, but it is doable.

Third, OP needs to realize that he is still within reach of being in the top half of his class from one of the top law schools in the world...that is an accomplishment. I found that hard work and diligence goes a lot further 2L and 3L year then it did 1L year, so increasing rank is maybe a little easier than from first to second semester. FWIW I was able to finish about at (estimating here) top 40% of my class.

Fourth, depending on your flexibility i.e. local and ability to get good recommendations, it is not unheard of to get a clerkship at around top 40% from a T13. I was able to turn my clerkship in a big law offer.

Fifth, (and maybe most important) EVERYONE is going to face major career setbacks. I know how obnoxious this sounds (trust me I HATED people telling me this) but learning how to deal with rejection and disappointment in your career before it really gets going is a good thing to learn (especially if you were like me and the stakes were low because k-jd, scholarship to help with debt, no family or mortgage to support). Better to learn how to deal with it now then when the stakes are a lot higher.

Sixth, seriously get a hobby outside of law school. For me I finally got serious about my health (also to help with my depression) and began a weight training program and learned how to cook. I got in the best shape of my life and found a real hobby in cooking.

And finally, use this opportunity to see if you really want to go into biglaw. I wish I had done more reflection on this during my time going through what you are going through. Instead I obsessed at trying to weasel my way into biglaw and, now that I have been working in it for a couple of years, I am starting to realize that this thing that I wanted so badly that the anxiety/depression of not getting it made me physically ill and overtook my life is not at all what I made it to be in my head. I am actually thinking of trying to return to the state regulatory agency I worked at after my 2L year. Even though at the time I thought it was humiliating I was working at a "job for 1Ls," I found the work to be fascinating. Also, don't write off any connections you may have made through OCI. All though a lot of the "relationships" are just recruitment BS, if you really hit it off with a partner or an associate, don't let that relationship go to waste just because you aren't going to that firm. I actually got the job I currently have because a partner who I got along great with (who ended up moving to a new firm) went to bat for me at his new firm. Best of luck OP!!

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Re: Law School Destroyed my mental health

Postby Bingo_Bongo » Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:50 pm

I think you're looking waaaaaay too short term. Make friends and enjoy your time in law school. You might just be an average student at your school, but there's no reason you can't still enjoy the experience.

After my 1L year I was ranked middle of my class at a third-tier law school. OCI was non-existant on this campus (we had like two big firms do interviews, only the top 10% was even invited to participate, and one person in my entire class scored a big law job and she was the person ranked #1).

Big deal. Life goes on, I still enjoyed my time there, made some of the best friends I've ever had, and met my wife.

I didn't get hired anywhere until after I got my bar results, and a mid-sized personal injury firm took me at a job where I started at around $60k a year. It got me by, but I wasn't rich.

Fast forward ten years to now. I'm making about $150k a year; I have an amazing family, and a job where I can actually spend time with them. The one person in my class who got that big law job no longer works in big law. Heck, she's not even a lawyer anymore and I'm pretty sure that I make more than she does judging by her job title. She hasn't found a husband, either (probably because she spent so much time with absolutely no social life). I'm not trying to knock her down (she's really nice), I'm just trying to make a point to you.

Me, my peers, and our employers are now at the point where literally nobody cares about what we did in law school, or what our grades were. Nobody cares about how many classes anybody am-jur'd. Nobody cares about GPA. Everyone's well past that, and if you bring that stuff up you come across as the 40 year old high school quarterback who's still talking about the big high school game. Everyone's moved on.

The things that matter when you get to be my age tend to be what your kids are doing. Everyone I went to school with have jobs, and everyone is making at least six figures. And again, we were all in the middle and bottom of our class at a third-tier school.

I've lurked on this forum for a long time, and everyone is neurotic to the core, and so caught up in what's happening in the moment that they lose sight of the bigger picture. Sometimes you just need to take a step back, breath, realize that you're at a prestigious school, that you're going to be an attorney, and that in 10 years from now you'll be doing just fine if you just stick with it (no matter what your grades are).

So, seek emotional help if you feel you need it, but most of all just take a step back and realize that sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. Ten years from now, I promise you nobody will care what your law school grades were.



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