Ask J – Law School Blues

Question:

Law school20 years ago I went to law school and got my law degree. I had big hopes of making alot of money and buying a new house and car. All of it came crumbling down when I took ill.

The only work I was able to do during that time was some minimum wage retail work and some substitute teaching. I have become very bitter and angry. Here I have a JD and nothing came from it. The humiliation I feel in front of family and friends is intense even though it has been twenty years

I am nearing recovery from illness now but in such a long time there is no such thing as a “refresher course” for law school! You can take courses to help with the bar exam but those are geared towards new graduates who are up to speed. I graduated 20 years ago! I am angry, bitter, disillusioned and broke. I live in subsidized housing and am on food stamps. I cannot believe my life turned out this way. I don’t know where to start because I remember nothing from 20 years ago academically and have not worked except for the jobs I mentioned because I went on social security disability.

The bar exam course would be very hard to just to “take” and hope you pass the bar. You have to have an understanding of what you are studying when you study a bar exam course and as stated, with law school 20 years behind me, I have forgotten everything. And I feel I have to repeat there is no such thing as a “refresher course” for someone out of law school.

Well meaning friends and relatives have suggested that a million times and there isn’t such a thing. And you can’t take someone who earned a professional degree 20 years ago who has not worked in the field and tell them to take a prep course for an exam when they won’t or don’t remember any of the law. A prep course for an exam is not a “refresher course” for law school. I am so disillusioned and cannot believe how angry inside I am at life.

I am almost well in terms of my health but have no clue where to go from here. I hate retail and hate teaching. I am truly, honestly lost. And I cannot afford to hire a job coach. If I go to the dept of labor around here for work, they ask me “what can you do”? I tell them I haven’t worked in almost 20 years except for some short term retail work and sub teaching and they just kind of look at me. I cannot live working full time as a cashier in a retail store and going back to school to become a teacher is out of the question. I hated sub teaching.

I am not interested in anything really. But social security disability is telling me to get ready to go on my own and while they sent me someplace to get me job ready…that is all it is “Job Ready” not “Career Ready”. All the jobs they offered me were jobs that don’t require a college degree and in a good many cases, don’t require a high school diploma. They pointed me in this direction because I have nothing on my resume for the last 20 years.

What does an intelligent person do in my case. I am so angry and bitter I wish to God I had never gone to law school. I am sorry for the day I ever applied. Before law school I worked as a clerk in a hospital and tried to get work doing that through a hiring agency who told me flat out (and I was shocked) “don’t even bother submitting a resume. our hosptials want people with recent experience”. I have applied to several hospital directly and never got called for an interview.

I am at wits end. If you need more information I will provide it, but the hardest part is I have no interest in any given area. I was interested in law but that was 20 years ago. I should let you know I applied for several paralegal jobs and all told me I had no experience despite the fact I had a law degree. Thank you, Jim ps I read a book “what color is your parachute” and it didn’t help at all.

– Jonathan B., Miami, FL


Answer:

Hello Jonathan,

It appears that you are at your wits end. To not prolong this response, let’s get to the point.

First off, cut yourself some slack. Anger and disappointment has not only clouded your judgment but it is preventing you from seeing the opportunities that are presently staring you in the face.

You have spoken well of the things you’ve lost and about the disdain you have for your past. Now I’d like you to get a pen and a pad and write down the things that you are grateful for. I know you may not seem to think that there’s anything to be grateful for, but I would suggest you try. Start off with the simple things. I can assure you that Bill Gates would pay a king’s ransom to regain his health if he was sick.

How much is being healthy worth to you? How many other’s are faced with the same illness that you have overcome? How many people would be interested in that bit of information? I tell you again and you should know from experience, “People who are sick will pay a king’s ransom to be healthy”. I am not trying to monetize illness. What I am saying is that people are willing to pay for solutions to illnesses. While you are demoralized and beaten by anger, you are sitting on a gold mine.

Jonathan, you stated in the beginning of your dreams to accomplish some worthy goals. Life presented you with a challenge as it does everyone. You can bemoan your fate or you could get up, look to your future with confidence and get moving. That’s really all there is to it. It’s quite simple (not easy) to be persistent when things appear to be going against you.

Also, you didn’t forget your law training. Recalling it might be difficult for now. Spend some time in a library and read. Allow those things to come back to you. 20 years is a long time to be at rest mentally. You have been a passenger in your life and now it’s time to take the wheel. Remember though, you can not successfully drive forward while looking in the rearview mirror.

You know that life is calling you to be more, otherwise you would not be communicating with me. Keep that note pad and begin writing down your ideas as they come to you. One final note, there is no job on this planet that someone has not become a millionaire doing.

Jonathan, you have the power to be, do, and have whatever it is you desire. You have your health back. Look at life with a different set of eyes. Forget what you think others are thinking about you but relish the fact that you have a familial support system. You are at the beginning stages of designing a life worth living. And, that you can be thankful for.

You are a power thinker of which the world lacks. Stop taking your gifts for granted and share them with the world. Take your place, fill your shoes, because no one else can.