The Same Conversation Every Law School Break

Not an Elle Columns, Lawyer Leave a Comment

Winter break for law students is an oasis in a desert of depressed exhaustion. We spend the semester day dreaming of things we’ll catch up on: tv shows, time with family and friends, sleep. And when those times finally arrive, when we finally reach the long awaited and longed for oasis, we can count on some fool to be a fly in the ointment.

It starts like this. Your father/mother/uncle/aunt/grandparent asks if you want to eat a meal with Family Friend. You agree because you want to see Friend and you want to please Family Member, and as a practical matter your finals diet of gold fish crackers and residual cabinet pasta has your stomach less than satiated.

This is what happens next.

You arrive at the meal and exchange pleasantries. So far, so good. As memory loss would have it, Family Friend has forgotten how far along in law school you are, and perhaps where you go. You hope your reply holds enough optimism to mask your cynicism.

Friend asks how law school is going, if you enjoy it. You try not to choke on your drink and remind yourself that Friend is proud of you and has no idea that law school is a “you had to be there” joke that isn’t funny even if you are there.

Friend moves on to regurgitating recycled lawyer jokes you’ve heard countless times. The difference between an attorney and a catfish (one’s a scum sucking bottom feeder and one’s a fish), why sharks don’t eat attorneys (professional courtesy), what it’s called when sharks do eat attorneys (cannibalism). You smile politely, because if nothing else,  law school has taught you how to appear attentive when you aren’t.

Then Friend starts saying things like, “So you’re going to be an attorney? I thought you were raised better than that,” or “I always thought you were too ethical for that,” or, “I keep telling Family Member that you’ve got too much character and values to be a lawyer.” You put a bit more effort into keeping the smile present but not forced. Maintaining the pretense of amusement, you shift the conversation’s focus to a sister/brother/cousin.

Eventually everyone eats, the check comes, someone says, “Let’s do it again sometime,” and you go home. Leaving you wondering: who actually finds those jokes funny, how hard is it to remember where I go to school, and why do so many people think it’s appropriate to comment with such distaste on my chosen profession?

I rarely take the pro law school position, but I view it as the job you take to get to the job you want. And I want to do the job. It would be nice if I could get a little less mockery for that, Friend.


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  • Guano Dubango

    I would like to meet an attractive white single virginal female who reveres lawyers.

    Is there any such person out there?

    All I have been able to come up to date with are all-too-arge white women who have illegitimate children and bad teeth who are looking to find someone to pay next month’s rent for them in exchange for unmentionable services.

    That is not why I secured a law degree and an LLM from a decent school in Washington DC.