No, I’m not pregnant. I’m going to law school. Well actually, no, I’m not. I’m studying for my LSAT (Law School Admission Test). One step at a time. Perhaps that’s not a very big announcement, but it’s a big deal to me. (And I did totally cheat.)
Allow me to back-up. I have wanted to go to law school forever. The Fasting Consumer, a lawyer?! I know, weird, eh? As you might assume, it has nothing to do with money. This is a darn good thing because there are plenty of law school graduates who don’t make much of anything and/or can’t find work as lawyers. Not to mention, law school is stupid expensive. (Don’t worry, I wouldn’t be going or paying until 2015.)
So why do I want to be a lawyer? Because I care deeply about the environment and the ability of all people (current and future) to survive. As much as I try to be a good steward, I’m aware that no amount of backyard vegetable growing, bicycling, recycling, and consumer fasting is going to save the world. Laws need to change and they need to be enforced. Problem is, humpback whales don’t have legal funds and oil companies have deeper pockets than the St. Lawrence.
So, given that I enjoy studying, philosophy, ethics, debate, and politics, I think the best thing I can do (in addition to doing my best as an individual environmentalist) is to use the law to defend our habitat. So, June LSAT, here I come.
I’ve been putting off this dream for two reasons: (1) debt and the pragmatic concern that I might never be able to pay it back and/or will put my family through hardship, and (2) the fear of failure.
This challenge has helped me reconsider how much is enough, and suddenly the possibility of living comfortably while paying back education-related loans seems feasible. I’ve also had a wacky unconventional idea for how to fund my law degree, but I’ll share more about that later.
Regarding the fear of failure, that hasn’t really gone away. Getting into law school is not easy (duh), and from the research I’ve done, if you don’t get into an elite-ish school, the return on your investment goes way down. The percentage of graduates who pass the bar exam and/or gain employment changes dramatically based on the ranking of individual law schools.
I may have some smarts, but I’m not a fast reader. I don’t have good visual memory. I have two kids. I’m not 25. I could go on. Eventually, though, I have to tell myself to shut-up and to remember that there is no greater failure than not trying. Sounds trite, but it’s true.
So try, I will, and in order to try my best, I had to cheat. I bought LSAT prep books–$500+ worth for $110 off of Kijiji. I also bought some erasers to get rid of the previous owner’s pencil markings.
It felt weird to spend money. Before making my purchase, I did my research. Is paying for an LSAT prep course worth it? (No.) Is self-studying worth it? (Yes.) Are LSAT prep books all the same? (No.) Once I was confident that I knew what I did and didn’t need, I tried the library first. They didn’t have the right books, but they did have several copies of the popular “Do What You Are” career book based on the Myers-Briggs personality test. I took out a copy of that.
Erasing page after page in the Kijiji books is a bit of a pain, but I’m still glad I bought used. Not only did I save piles of money and the resources needed to print, manufacture, ship, and sell new books, I also gave my daughter the opportunity to “help Mommy become a lawyer.” She only erased about five pages before she was done, but it was cute and meant a lot to both of us.
So there you have it. On the surface, this post may appear to be off-topic. What does a personal decision like law school have to do with consumer fasting? Actually, quite a bit. This challenge has helped me revaluate my relationship with money and has cleared space for reflecting on life and aspirations. I owe much of this decision to the fast.
And, I had to disclose to you my purchase. I hope you can forgive the cheating and forgive me if posts are a little less frequent between now and June.