Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back in my place

When I was a law student, I very rarely confessed to being a law student.  My sister Echo and my Aunt B (who won't be happy until all her unmarried relatives are happily settled down) have tried in their own ways to disabuse me of this habit. 

Aunt B's Approach
Aunt B at church: "Have you met my niece?"
Boy: "No, not yet.  What do you do?"
Me: "I'm in school."
Aunt B:  "She's a law student!"
Boy: (internally) Must ... escape ...

Echo's Approach
Me: "I'm still in school."
Echo: (kicking me in the ankle)
Me: (trying not to swear in front of someone I just met)

But I always found it easier to just say "student," or if forced, "grad student."  If you're talking to a boy, it's almost mandatory.  As my friends Becky and Sally* have often lamented, "law student" is the kiss of death to a boy.  It's much better to just be "student," or if push comes to shove, some sort of vagely "pre-law" person.

Sally: I'm in school.
Guy: What for?
Sally: Um ... I think I kinda want to be a lawyer.
Guy: Oh, awesome. When are you applying to law school?
Sally: Well, not any time soon, that's for sure.

Guy: What do you do?
Becky: I'm kinda at a crossroads right now.  (That crossroads being choosing between a law firm in Salt Lake City, and a law firm in New York ...)
Guy: Oh gosh, I know how that is.
Becky: For reals.  Hey, don't I have awesome hair?
Guy: You totally do.

All technically true

Sadly, as Sally can attest (and I can affirm), the boys-uninterested-in-lawyers theme strikes pretty evenly across all segments of the population.  Sally has searched for dateable guys in both LDS ward houses and bars across the Wasatch Front, and neither group seems particularly into future litigators.  Hence, the brilliant lying plan. 

And yes ... it works.  (Boys-totally-into-directionless-girl theme?  Alive and well.  Unfortunately, Sally still hasn't figured out the "Oh, you thought I was still in undergrad?  Wonder how that happened ..." conversation.  But all in good time.)     

And it's not just that you want to avoid scaring boys off (though that's a big part of it).  It's also that you don't want to be forced into that awkward,

"Oh yeah, I was going to go to law school, but then I realized

A. How much money I could make selling real estate
B. How much money I could make with my business (cough pyramid scheme cough)
C. How much money I could make in construction
D. How much I hate lawyers"

conversation, which comes up surprisingly often even though it won't make anybody happy.  (Believe me, trying to convince these kinds of people that you didn't go into it for the money--though it is a nice bonus, when the economy isn't circling the bowl--will not work.  Ever.)  (Also, why is it OK for people to just tell you how much they hate you and what you do if you're a lawyer, but not if you're in the army, a journalist, a teacher, a bank teller?   Topic for another day...)

Or there's the "I'm going to get really defensive and assume you're (A) a jerk, (B) arrogant, or (C) condescending before I even get into this conversation" attitude that also tends to affect a significant minority of the population, men and women. 

So yeah, I avoided the law student label. 

After graduation came a whole new adventure - people who wanted to introduce me to their friends as a "lawyer," even though I am not one.

"No, no - haven't passed the bar, haven't passed character and fitness, haven't taken the oath or gotten my number.  Not a lawyer, not this girl."  This was usually blurted out in a combination of insecurity/fear of the bar examiners, who would surely appear from behind a ficus to yank my license before it was even bestowed for the sin of the unauthorized practice of law.  Yes, friends ... I know that got old, and I am sorry.

But now that I have passed the bar ... and will be getting on that character and fitness thing any day now ... and will supposedly be starting at a firm in T-minus two months and three weeks ... I recently it might just be time to pony up to the "lawyer" title.

So a couple days ago, I finally introduced myself to someone as a (albiet underemployed) lawyer. 

Random Person: So you practice in Utah?
Me: Uh, no.  I passed the Arizona bar.
RP: So you can't actually be a lawyer here, right?
Me: ... That is correct.

Life to Me: Check and mate.

* Names changed, natch.

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