Recently, I’ve had to accept that part of the human condition is an inability to predict what happens next. I’m a person who loves to plan and struggles with change. I’m simultaneously hungry for success while also having a large aversion to failure. These attributes made admitting to myself that I wanted to go to law school, the perfect storm.
Growing up, becoming a lawyer was always a profession I had strongly considered. As a child, I inhaled books, smuggling flashlights into my room, and reading well into the night. On the playground I would instinctually defend the underdog. From a personality perspective, I’m extremely stubborn and I love to argue. As a strong critical thinker and a thorough researcher, I always identified with being smart. When people suggested I would make a good lawyer, it seemed like a natural fit.
However, like most high school students, I wasn’t 100% sure law was the route for me. And how could I be? The idea that society expects 17-year-old kids to decide on a career without yet trying anything, is ludicrous to me. I visited an academic adviser and they explained to me that the most common route to becoming a lawyer was through the arts, as the wide variety of courses tended to provide options for surer success (think gender studies vs calculus). However, commerce also greatly appealed to me and if I changed my mind about wanting to be a lawyer, it might provide a more direct employment option while remaining a viable path to law school.
I ended up at the Sauder School of Business (UBC) and I loved it. I found it exciting, interesting, and an educational experience that seemed relevant to the real world. However, first year was tough. It was definitely a shock from my high school. My social media reflected me as a social butterfly, but I also spent many late nights at the library. I was surrounded by intelligent people, and many people who had background knowledge that I didn’t. I knew nothing about accounting. I didn’t take calculus in high school and it felt like I was learning a language everyone already knew how to speak. My confidence was quickly shattered. And with that, a part of my identity.
I had always felt smart and like school was easy, but suddenly that didn’t feel true anymore. My anxiety around exams increased. It was a vicious cycle, poor marks resulted in me feeling badly about myself, which then translated to even worse marks because I couldn’t focus. After my first year, I realized law school wasn’t going to be in the cards for me. I felt this loss, but it was something I quietly and quickly accepted. I knew many people working in commerce did not have stellar marks but achieved success. That would be my path. And that seemed fine. I loved the content I was learning about and was excited to find success in this field.
I adapted and over time school became easier for me again. I regained confidence in the internships and work experience I obtained. I knew my colleagues regarded me as smart and slowly I started to build myself up again.
After I graduated from university, I spent some time traveling. When I came home, I began to talk to marketing professionals in a variety of industries. These conversations were incredibly valuable and helped me refine my career goals. I decided I wanted to work for a company where I was on a large marketing team, providing me with experienced people I could directly learn from. I wanted to work in retail digital marketing, specifically with advertising because of the quick and quantitative feedback available (oftentimes in marketing, you may be working towards an abstract goal and it can be difficult to prove your success. Digital marketing is the opposite, the numbers don’t lie!). And lastly, I wanted the opportunity to be strategic as that is where I thrive.
The job I obtained in the skin care industry checked off all of these boxes. Albeit it ended up being more administrative than I had hoped, I also understood that this is the nature of most entry level roles. I was very excited. I was working with wonderful women and I felt proud that I had achieved my goal. The company produced high quality products and it also had many CSR initiatives I could feel good about. However, I still didn’t feel fulfilled.
It started as a small voice. At first, I could ignore it. But slowly, that voice gained momentum. Fear and unconfidence tried to shove it down. But the voice grew louder. It was hard to let myself listen. Law school was something I had told myself wasn’t possible. It seemed almost sadistic to revel in this daydream. And what about the past four years I had spent focused on marketing? All the work experience, the courses. I had been focused on this career for what felt like so long. But still, I tried some LSAT practice questions. It felt natural and exciting. I looked further into law school and I discovered that most schools deducted a certain number of your worst credits. This seemed optimistic. Yet, another voice raged in my head, repeating the same mantra, “What if I fail?”. Failing was terrifying for me. Doing poorly in university courses was the closest I’d felt I’d come to failure. And I didn’t like it. It made me uncomfortable. I felt like again, it challenged my identity.
I decided I would study for the LSAT and see how things went. I didn’t tell anyone. Keeping this secret made the possibility of failure more palatable. It was during the height of the pandemic, so it was also easy to hide my studies from the world. I worked remotely and would wake up at 5am to study, work and then study again until exhaustion took over. Weekends became study days. I talked to an academic adviser who recommended I take the Queen’s University Certificate in Law since I had zero relevant law school experience. I piled on two university courses at a time while studying. I also volunteered for a firm that provided value for my applications. Besides taking a break from blogging, I didn’t let myself slack off on my existing commitments either. I managed to maintain success at work, receiving a promotion. It was a lot. I challenged myself to work harder than I ever had before across many facets. And despite feeling exhausted, I loved it.
As I studied, I knew in my gut, law school was the right path for me. I couldn’t ignore it and I wanted it more and more intensely. Or perhaps with each increasing practice test score, I gave myself further permission to accept this exiled dream.
The day of the LSAT arrived and my anxiety was sky high. I wrote it. My score was fine. In fact, I later ended up getting into law school with it. But I did decide to repeat the grueling process and I’m so glad I did, finishing with a score I felt proud of.
The application process for law school was a nightmare. Unfortunately, it seemed I had chosen the worst year to apply for law school. “The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) released statistics revealing a 35% increase in applicants and a 56% rise in total applications over last year.” (Source: Forbes). These stats were very stressful to discover and I spent a lot of time reading online forums, hoping for the best.
It was a huge relief and blissful feeling to be accepted to law school. I will be moving to the Okanagan and attending Thompson Rivers University in September. I feel very grateful to be able to stay within my home province, learning B.C. provincial case law. The class size is small and the community is supposed to be lovely. I’m very excited to start learning.
I made a dream I didn’t think was possible, a reality. These next three years will be exceptionally difficult but I am ready to embrace this challenge with confidence. I know, this is where I’m meant to be.