Cliff Gardner

Monday, March 13, 2006

A law school post

Well shit, I got wait-listed at Howard. The thing is, I had pretty much made up my mind that if I got in there I was going to go. Oh well. Here's what I've decided about law school--it is time for me to be honest with myself.

I am not that smart, certainly not smart enough to get in to a great law school, and that is really ok. My strengths aren't being brilliant but just being a hard worker and a nice guy. Because of that, going in to Intellectual Property law, a field I don't think I would enjoy and is probably over my head anyway, doesn't make much sense. The only reason I wanted to be an IP lawyer was because I thought I could make a lot of money, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I don't really care a lot about being wealthy, either. I just want to make enough to pay back my loans eventually and live my life. So, that said, I'm thinking that public interest law is more my speed (i.e. no engineering background needed to practice it) and style. I want to be a lawyer to help as many people as I can, and because that is my goal, the University of the District of Columbia is probably my best bet at the moment.

So, to recap: Of the 18 schools I applied to, I've been accepted at three (UDC, Vermont and Franklin Pierce), waitlisted at three (Creighton, Howard and Syracuse), rejected at eight (Lewis and Clark, Gonzaga, Seattle, Denver, University of San Francisco, University of New Mexico, Texas Tech and Depaul), with four (Willamette, U of O, Thomas Jefferson and Florida State) still to hear from.


  • It's good to devote thought and effort to planning what you want out of law school. Otherwise you'll be like, wtf. One thing I would advise you to do is look carefully at what the loan repayment assistance programs are like; without such a program, a public interest career is nearly impossible because you will be pinned down by your debt. If you have undergrad debt, and I have no idea if you do or not, this is doubly important.

    Glancing at what I can about the D.C. law school, they seem to be pretty strapped financially--leading me to suspect their LRAP is minimal at best. You may want to think carefully if they can really provide you the support you need.

    By Blogger Ian Samuel, at 2:09 PM  

  • Ian is right.

    In other news, don't give up on the places where you are waitlisted, esp. Howard, if you really love it. Send them additional materials - I would suggest an additional letter of rec and a special cover letter reiterating how much you want to go there, what you like, and that you would definitely attend if accepted. That kind of thing can go a long way.

    By Anonymous andrea, at 2:11 PM  

  • Well, I'm sure I will not be the first person to tell you that your in fact very smart and talented.

    So I'll just pretend you didn't say that, and congratulate you on following your heart. I think thats the best choice anyone can make.

    Also, its reassuring to hear that someone else is taking 'the make less money, but have more time for life' path ;oP

    By Anonymous Kristen, at 2:18 PM  

  • yeah i don've have any law school or loan advice, but i'm standing by my earlier argument--don't sell yourself short on your smarts!

    also i'd be much prouder to have a public interest lawyer as a friend than some rich asshole in a $1000 suit. not that you could ever actually BE an asshole, but i'm just sayin'.

    way to go on nixing money as the driving force for your decisions. i'm a firm believer that that is never the way to go. money isn't real!

    By Blogger Ashley, at 2:49 PM  

  • My comment will be two fold:

    1) This may come out sort of weird but... I can't believe someone like you got rejected from so many schools. I mean, you may not think you're a genius, but I think you are smarter then I am. So the fact that you did not get in to so many law schools, makes me feel a little better about not getting into any undergrad schools... well besides UO... Hope that did not come out as awkward as I think it did. Just take it as a compliment? Cool? Cool.

    2) Just make sure you are going for what you really want. Nothing less. You can't stop going for a dream because you don't think you are smart enough.... I'll post a story later about that... but I'll I have to find it first.


    By Blogger Megan, at 3:09 PM  

  • My sister is actually heading to Vermont nex year- she's really excited. Of course, she's wanted to head to the east coast for years.

    By Anonymous Caity, at 3:28 PM  

  • Hey Tumnus... Who says you have to have it all figured out at 22? But wouldn't it be cool to live in DC for awhile.. and if I get in to Georgetown, we could hang out all the time! Wouldn't that be cool? PS Did you happen to mention on your applications that you can eat your weight in birthday cake?

    By Blogger The Assassin (burrr), at 8:44 PM  

  • I am very glad to hear you making the decisions that you are! They seem very well thought out and much more suited to the Thomas that I know! I pray that God will guide you to the place that is suited for you. The exciting part of all of this is that one of those schools that has accepted you is the place you are really meant to be and amazing and exciting things are going to come out of your time there!

    By Anonymous Sharl, at 10:56 PM  

  • I am so impressed with you, Tom. You are definitely one of the most motivated, good-hearted, dedicated people I know. I'm also really impressed that you got onto the waiting list at Howard and Syracuse. They don't put dummies on that. I know you wanted to get in, but the wait list IS an acheivement. Dorky-sounding or not.
    It took me a long time to get past the panicky, "I must have money in the future," feeling. I'm glad you're getting there. Yay, noble poverty!
    What ever you decide, it will be great. You are the kind of person who will make it so.

    By Anonymous zayne, at 12:09 AM  

  • Good luck at whatever law school you choose. :)

    By Anonymous shea, at 11:32 AM  

  • I've seen TK, Paul, Ghazal, Mitch, and a number of my old teammates stress to some degree about where they are going to law is an incredibly intense process, and you have my sympathies. (I also feel slightly less stressed since I am applying to divinity schools in a year or two instead of law schools...I couldn't take the pressure!)

    By Anonymous Eric, at 12:12 AM  

  • Also Thomas re: IP law, I went to an IP luncheon and discovered that almost, but not entirely, exclusively firms hire people with scientific backgrounds because they have the know how to write the patent and copywright stuff up. So I don't want to say OMG CANNOT DO IP, but it seems it'd be harder to get hired without such a backkground. But I am sure you'll be happy where ever you end up :)

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:26 PM  

  • Franklin Pierce is a horrible school. The legal writing/research department stinks. If you're a nice person you will probably be happier somewhere else. Choose D.C. or Vermont. Best of luck to you.

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