Friday, September 2, 2011

now, now i get it

This week of school:

Monday--no classes

Tuesday--Intellectual Property & Cyber Law. In Orem, so I made the hour drive through the rush hour/construction that is Utah County (and will be until just right after I graduate). Wandered around the Liberal Arts building until finally located LA208. Found a seat just before the teacher began class. Or, the guy filling in for the teacher began class. Which consisted of the handing out of the syllabus, a brief review (five minutes) of said syllabus. Actual teacher is out of town so class dismissed.

Wednesday--Organizational Behavior. Again, in Orem. Wanted desperately to get into an online version of this class, but since I was 18, then 14, then 12 on the wait list, emailed instructor asking if there was any way to let me in. Received email that said, "I don't see you getting into the class." Day two of driving through rush hour/construction zone. Got there early enough to go to bookstore to pick up books. Longest line I've ever seen (even longer than at Kohl's during December!). Found bookstore employee holding sign that read, "End of Line". Got in line, which moved surprisingly fast. Ten minutes and $508 later, on my way to class. Wandered over to Business building. Realized I must have had the wrong classroom number (there is no WB110 although I copied my schedule from the school website into a Word doc and printed it out the day before, so not sure how that happened). Found a computer lab, logged on and learned that the classroom is actually WB112. Entered hidden WB112, spotted no seats at tables, found an empty chair, instructor pointed out empty seat in middle of row. Climbed over kids and sat down. Spent next hour listening to each student tell his or her preferred name, where he or she grew up, if he or she had lived out of the country for more than six months, what, if any languages he or she spoke, and sharing something that no one knew about him or her. Sixty students. Really? I drove that drive for a 3000 level jr high class? There's a whole other story about how one of the students is Jessie's high school boyfriend, but it's toooo long for even me to post. And there are stories about how we spent the next two hours--learning how to log on to the school/class websites, learning how to write our contact information onto a 4 x 6 card and glue, paste, or as a last resort, staple a head shot of ourselves onto said card for next week so the teacher can learn our names. A 20-minute life history of the teacher. A 15-minute break in the middle of it all. Finally, mercifully, it ended, and I drove home, discouraged yet again that I couldn't get into an online version of this class and save myself the two hour drives down and back. Also, bummed that there doesn't seem to be a way to test out of this class.

Thursday--Family Law. Left work again to make the commute to school. Work is on the northwest corner of the valley. Realized I needed gas while driving along the western mountains. There is a lot of new development out there. No gas stations. Thank you, little car that uses not much gas, for getting me to the 7/11 at I-15 on Bangerter without running out of fuel. Hungry but no time to stop. Not thrilled about making the commute or about attending a Family Law class. Tried throughout school years to avoid Family Law. Seems like there must always be someone sad or angry or both when family law is involved. But it's required. Arrived at school and began search for WB123. Could not find it. Wrong class number again? Began to feel like I am in jr high. Found computer lab and checked for correct class. WB123. Whaa? Wandered around and found class. Slipped into a chair just as instructor began class.

And that is when I realized why I love the law. Why I love to learn about the law. Why I love to go to school.

At the beginning of every semester, I feel a bit apprehensive--Is this too heavy a load? Can I handle the drive and work and family? What am I doing, going to school at my age? And more of that. After a week or so, I settle into a routine, figure out when assignments are due, how much work and time is required, and then plow on through. As I looked at my schedule for this semester and next, I realized that in order to graduate in just two semesters, I needed to take 13 hours. That didn't sound too overwhelming until I realized that I would be driving down on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights. In rush hour and through the construction. After my experiences on Tuesday and Wednesday, I was really beginning to doubt whether I even wanted to go through with this semester.

But then I went to class on Thursday.

My professor is a judge. One of 71 judges in the State who was appointed by the governor, confirmed by the Senate, and has been retained through several elections since. He is a grownup. He doesn't get to bring his biases to his day job. He understands our legal system--how an attorney can argue one side of the law for a client and then two hours later argue the other side of the same issue for a different client. He knows how the legal system was established, he understands constitutional law, and he applies it every day.

I sensed a wisdom in him that I haven't felt from my other instructors. He gave us a bit of his background--he's married, LDS, has five adult children. His four oldest are boys, all married. His oldest son lives in Canada with his husband.

He hears all kinds of court cases and reminded us that he is ethically bound to not discuss cases he is currently hearing. He is one of the people who hear cases and then rule on the cases, writing opinions that become case law. His rulings interpret the laws that our state legislature passes.

This class is why I love school. I am going to learn from this instructor. I will not learn only that he knows the law or that he can write motions or opinions or memorandums. I will learn how to understand and write them myself. This notion of learning is why I have had this vague idea of going on to law school buried in a room in my brain. It is the kind of learning that I imagine occurs in law school and I would love to experience that.

However. He pointed out that law school takes three years. Then he said that all lawyers--all lawyers--need three years of actual lawyer work before they are any good. So, if I finish up this year of school, take the LSAT and get into law school, go for three more years of school, pass the bar, practice for three years--I'll be 60 before I'm a good lawyer. Thinking about that left me feeling a tiny bit sad, but more than sad, it was a practical way to look at it. Is the effort worth the opportunity to work as a lawyer for ten years? Would I be able to even do it for that long?

I'm not sure yet. There's also the part about how you can't work during the first year of law school and the other part about how would I pay for it. So there's that.

But it was a thoughtful discussion. And driving home, I wasn't even bothered when the McDonald's by my school was only accepting cash and I had none, or when the lane I was driving in exited off the freeway, dropping me into an even more chaotic construction zone that also had a McDonald's, which had a nonfunctioning drive-up window. I just parked and went in for a chicken sandwich and some oatmeal raisin cookies to munch on while I drove home and thought about how much I was going to enjoy this class.

I will be driving back to school tonight for a one-hour entrepreneurial lecture class. And during the night, somebody dropped the online organizational business class, so I dropped the Wednesday class and added the online version.

I'm feeling pretty good about school right now.

1 comment:

Lisa B. said...

Isn't this a wonderful post. Enlightening and thought provoking and ... just wonderful. So glad!