How I Got Here

Date: January 15, 2016 | Posted By: USDBLS

I have just finished my first semester of law school, halfway through the infamous 1L year. But this isn’t the first time I’m celebrating the halfway mark of the 1L year. I’ve gone through this before, but to a lesser degree, observing from afar.

My girlfriend was a 1L two years ago. She came straight from undergrad. Both of her parents are lawyers so she knew she wanted to be a lawyer since her freshman year of college. It was something I wished I had, knowing what I wanted to be and the path that leads to it.

I had thought since high school I wanted to go into the world of marketing, but I didn’t really have any idea of what that meant, what I would actually do by “going into marketing.”  I began with a marketing internship after college with a small company that made websites. During my time there, I slowly developed the overwhelming feeling of how mundane my role was, assisting the salesmen, “Frankenstein-ing” code written by the developers to make new landing pages, occasionally making a Facebook post. It was remedial stuff and I eventually found myself asking, “Why did I go to college? I could have done this kind of work straight from high school.” When my marketing director left for a startup, I followed him, hoping I would get an improved role that would re-kindle what I thought was my passion, but it was the more of the same.

At the same time, my girlfriend was enduring her first year at USD School of Law. The massive amounts of reading and the long hours with her study group at the LRC were an all-too-present reality for both of us. Looking back, I wish I had been more patient with her, understanding that when she said she had to read or write a brief that it couldn’t be put off until tomorrow for a trip to Target or the farmers market. I wish I would have been the way she is for me now, understanding my stress and knowing what I am going through.

She would vent to me about the workload and the morally repugnant cases (there are some crazy cases in the Crim Law casebook). Yet through all of this, I could tell that she enjoyed what she was doing. Yes, parts were tiring, intimidating, and frustrating. But it was also challenging. It was satisfying. It was all of the things that were absent from my marketing positions. So when I was released from the startup for not being invested enough in what I was doing, I decided I craved that challenge. She inspired me to go to law school.

And if you’re wondering if she warned me about 1L year, you can rest easy knowing that she definitely warned me. In fact, she even tested me, telling me that if I read the most boring case she could think of and was still interested in going to law school, she would support me. She gave me Helicopteros (which I know now is a personal jurisdiction case). When she took the book away halfway through I exclaimed, “Hey! I want to know how it ends!” to which she gave me a look of total bewilderment. Just about anybody who I meet at USD through Katie, before I started and even now, turns to me and says “Didn’t she warn you?!” So I have been warned, probably more than anybody in my class. And don’t get me wrong, what everyone has told me is true. Law school takes determination, long hours, resilience. But I couldn’t be more excited to continue facing this challenge.

Author: Christopher Thien, 1L Juris Doctor candidate at the University of San Diego School of Law.

Go Back