Saturday, May 26, 2007

Drumroll please . . .

So I've been away from blogging for an entire week. And, very uncharacteristically, I've also been away from reading other blogs for most of the week. I'm starting to go through withdrawal!
When I left off, I was anxiously awaiting the results of my final exams to see where I'd pan out in class rank at the end of it all. I was also coming down with a pretty nasty cold. As for the cold, I'm doing much better -- no thanks to my bar review schedule, though. Monday I studied for about 4 hours after our Barbri class, and I landed in bed completely dizzy and wiped out. I felt better Tuesday, but after 5 hours of a Barbri torts lecture and another 3 hours of studying, I went to another three hour lecture. Wednesday I took it easy because my parents were in town, and we celebrated my mom's 33rd birthday. Obviously, it isn't really my mom's 33rd birthday-- and my mom's not the kind of lady who's hung up on age at all. It's just that I forgot to buy candles, and since Jason and I both celebrated our 33rd birthdays this past November, we had two #3 candles lying around, which we used. We had delicious carrot bundt cake and cheesecake, too.

Thursday was grueling. The Barbri lecture (by one of my all-time favorite legal scholars-- Erwin Chemerinsky!) was from 9-5. I immediately went to another torts lecture following that-- finishing my day around 10pm. Then Friday I took it easy. After Barbri, Jason and I ran some errands and headed out with my parents to the law school awards ceremony.

There's no way I'll be able to keep this pace and survive all the way until the end of July-- but this is graduation week, so I've sucked it up for now, and I'm hoping to settle in to a normal routine this coming week.

Here's the basic run-down on the graduation stuff.

Friday night was the awards ceremony. I think it was pretty close, but in the end, I did end up getting the Legal Scholar Award. This was given to me because I earned the highest GPA in the evening division of law school. There aren't a lot of us in the evening division-- which basically just means among those who attended school part-time over 4 years instead of full-time for 3 years. But I worked hard to keep this standing, and I really wanted this award. It came with a very generous cash gift. We went to Spaghetti Factory for dinner because that's what I really wanted. We never go there (even though it's a great price) because the kids don't eat pasta. So it was a treat for me.

Then, this morning, at graduation, they asked me to put a doily on my mortar board. Being a traditionalist and not wanting anything on my cap, initially I refused. "No thanks," I said. "I'm kind of a traditionalist."

"It's for Order of the Coif," they explained. Order of the Coif is a national honor society-- not every school is able to initiate members into this society. And the students admitted must be in the top 10 % of their graduating class. My school inducted 33 members. I was one of them. They did a special induction during the awards ceremony during which we were recognized. It was cool.

During the graduation ceremony, there were two main speakers. A prestigious keynote-- one of the Supreme Court of Minnesota justices (whose name escapes me at the moment). He spoke about legal ethics and the importance of being ethical in practice. I missed most of the speech because I was reviewing intentional torts and defamation elements in my mind (still trying to memorize). The other speaker was our class valedictorian-- who gave an entertaining and engaging speech dispelling three myths of law school graduation. She also touched a bit on ethics-- she explained that a friend of hers received a reference request for her moral character application. The request read: Does this applicant hold herself up to the standard you expect of an attorney in the legal profession? He wanted to to know if it was a joke-- would it be more helpful to answer that question in the positive or the negative, given the reputation of the legal profession today . . .

Anyway, when they read names, they also indicated the honors the individual received. So students learned as they were walking across stage whether they were in the top 5% or the top 15% (or if they were in either). I knew I was in the top 10% from receiving Order of the Coif, but I was delighted to learn I graduated magna cum laude, which means I was in the top 5% of the graduating class!

So there you go. Law school is officially over. I am officially a graduate. I worked my butt off. My husband worked his tail off holding the family together. My in-laws were our safety net, watching the kids whenever we needed their help, always encouraging me. My siblings and siblings-in-law stepped up time and again when I needed someone to watch the kids or help me out with something. My parents listened to me gripe about the test or grades or whatever. My friends reminded me that I need to strive for balance in my life-- that life is not just about law school. And my kids . . . . well, they're a major part of the reason I went to school in the first place. I loved teaching, but being an attorney means they get a stay-at-home parent (hopefully in the next two years). So while everyone congratulated me and celebrated me today because I was the one who read the books and outlined the material and wrote the exams-- I know this accomplishment isn't just about me. It's about all those people who pushed me along the way.

And I'll just mention one other thing. I didn't get into law school. I was rejected from every school to which I applied, and only wait-listed at the University of San Diego School of Law. I'm not sure why-- I actually had the numbers for any of the schools. I guess I didn't show well on paper. Regardless, a mere three days before the start of orientation, USD offered me a spot off the wait-list, and I accepted it-- with a lot of prodding from my parents and Jason. I find great satisfaction in being the kid who didn't even get accepted-- but still earned the highest GPA in my unit and graduated among the top 16 people in the school. It just goes to show you that you can't always judge a person by what they look like on paper.

Photo credits: My mom and Casey at her birthday party, me and Marcie before I left for graduation (Casey refused to take a photo with me, while I shouted after him, "You'll regret that decision in 10 years when you want to know where your picture with me is!"- he didn't seem to care), Jason and me, Jim and me and Yee (me with my in-laws) , me with my parents, my study group (Paul & Delinda)-- who are going to help me prepare for and pass the California bar!


Julie said...

Outstanding job, Karen! You've done so very well. I was so proud to read that you won your award and that you received additional awards. I don't know how you do it but I think you are awesome!

Mayhem said...

Congratulations on all of your accomplishments. You've obviously worked very hard, and deserve to feel very, very proud.

Andrea said...

Congratulations on the awards! It must feel good to be done (with this part at least). Good luck with the studying.

Danielle said...

I cried when I saw the pictures of you in your cap and robe. Congratulations, I could not be happier for you. What an amazing accomplishment!

Oh, and Doug says, "there's this guy I want to sue. I need a good lawyer. A top of her class kind of lawyer. Know anybody?"

We love you very much and are so very proud!

J said...

Congrats on your preserverence and diploma!

babyreynolds said...

Karen - I am so proud of you! Congratulations -- though I must say I am not surprised!! Good luck with the bar studies!