It had been a difficult year.
I had begun at a pretty good school, not necessarily with high aspirations. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed to be there. I had applied to law school once before, gotten into my current school, hoped for better, taken a year off, applied again and ended up in exactly the same place, except one year older. I had sat in the front row of every class, and my classmates--they didn't hate me, but they called me a "gunner" behind my back. Let's just say I wasn't invited to a lot of parties. Even though my grades were not even that great. In fact, after my sub-median grade in Torts, they really were not great. I never took an unvarnished A in any class until second semester, when I connected deeply with a professor and took the highest grade. In one single, solitary, class. The rest of my grades were not, as they say, naked As.
It was late July, I remember. I had missed Law Review by then, and the rejection letter from Harvard had long since come and gone. I was working as a research assistant to a couple of law professors, about 40 hours a week between the two gigs, enough to scrape together six grand for the summer. Enough to cover housing and food. Both of them were pity positions, bestowed when I'd come crying about how I wasn't going to be able to afford to live. Somehow even my (what I thought) incredibly modest ambitions of working at the local public defender's office hadn't worked out. And don't get me started on the disaster that was the search for a 1L summer associateship. Needless to say that hadn't panned out either.
Life, and the idea of a life in law, were in shambles. I hadn't taken to weeping every day, but my heart was pretty torn up. It was time to admit--really for the first time--that I was going to need to lower my expectations. I had worked so, so hard, but I was finally read to throw in the towel and admit I just wasn't going to be clerking on the Supreme Court any time
That's when the phone rang. It rang on a day just like any other day. It was a hot day sweaty day and I hadn't done much but read a few cases on Westlaw and check through about two-dozen old posts on Volokh rather than write the research memo that was "due" that Friday (remember it was a pity job, I doubted she really cared if I ever completed that research memo).
I looked down at my phone, and I froze in terror. It had a signature area code. An area code I knew, but only hypothetically, only from shamelessly snooping a particular school's website repeatedly while asking myself what-if questions.
I let it ring through. Then I called my best friend. For some crazy reason, I was crying.
"I got a call from an XXX area code" I said.
"Holy ---ing s--- man!!" he said, "What did they say?!"
"I couldn't get myself," I had to take a second, "I couldn't get my s--- together enough to answer it."
"Well call them back!!"
And that was the day I got into the school I transferred to.
At my new school, I made the law review. I participated in, and did well in, internal moot court. I got relatively good grades, and took classes with some of the most incredible people--classmates and professors alike--that I have ever met and in all likelihood will ever meet. I got a job at a firm that would not have looked at me with my grades at my old school, and received gobs of support--professional, personal, academic, and scholastic--the likes of which I had never even thought possible. Certainly none of which was available at my old school.
Everything about my transfer experience was the best thing that ever could have happened to me. By the end, it almost felt like I hadn't transferred--like I had started on the same footing as my classmates.
So if you're ever thinking about transferring, and wondering if it's worth it--whether you're at the top of your class or not--I say take another glance. Because transferring, for me, was the best decision I ever made, and it changed the trajectory of my life.
[to be continued]