Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

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Throwaway2013
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Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby Throwaway2013 » Fri May 04, 2012 1:45 am

Warning: This is a long post filled that is very boring and filled with the reflections of a very flawed individual, if that doesn't appeal to you then nobody is forcing you to read or comment on this thread. I've included a much shorter reply for interesting conclusions I've reached after trudging this path.

Since striking out at EIP I've been in self-imposed exile from the rest of the law school. I was hardly a social butterfly before, but the pain and anxiety induced by the all-too-common "So do you know where you're working..." after August dramatically outweighed any benefit of trying to maintain friendship here. I made a meagre effort to scavenge for a job that still felt somewhat suited to my transactional goals, but after a series of unrequited applications I learned to appreciate the closure that I got from flurries of rejection letters from large law firms.

I've never been a gunner and since I've come to law school it's become more and more clear that I should've taken a break or stuck with the support network I had at my old school (namely, people that I enjoyed to be around). I coasted my way through first semester, not preparing until 5 days before my first exam and I was easily in the bottom 5% in terms of class attendance but I still wrote up a "model answer" exam and had a GPA within "Stone Scholar" (top 30%+) range. The biggest mistake I've probably ever made was letting my apathy sink in further during second semester. While I had some interest in my first-semester courses, I couldn't care less about my second semester material. There were other contributing factors, but I figured I could coast my way through second semester too, and the short answer was that I couldn't (more exams, smaller "study window", no take-homes) and my grades slid significantly as a result.

Since that semester my personal issues have only compounded. I wanted to get on law review but I had a long-planned international trip during the same week. I thought I could juggle the two but I ended up sitting in my hotel room at 3am, trying to desperately wrap up my thoughts on the material when I saw the deadline pass. One more opportunity wasted.

I went through summer, my job had potential and I was very excited to get my hands on some real work. I started off extremely motivated (arriving early, staying late, a rarity for me) but about halfway through the Summer I began to question the value of my work (I wasn't sure if there was a difference between submitting my work to the boss's inbox or to the nearest wastepaper basket) and I sort of fell off my boss's radar. Instead of taking initiative, I simply wrapped up all the assignment I had been given and began showing up later and later everyday since I had nothing left to do except browse the internet at my desk. I already felt like all my recent assignments were essentially "busy work" and I had no motivation to go and see what tier of crap existed below "busy work" that I could try and squeeze from my boss's hands. I'm sure my peers here at CLS would've made the best of that situation, but I simply languished and ended up taking a lot of half-days. With EIP drawing near, and my shitty Spring grades having caught up with me, I began to experience the first full blown depression I had ever experienced.

Career services tried to get me fired up before EIP. They convinced me that my grades were fine and that it was "very rare" for someone in my grade range to end up offerless after EIP. I tempered my expectations and set up a very conservative bid list, only shooting for firms with the modest recruiting goals and larger summer classes. By the time EIP rolled around I was almost optimistic. Heck, through a mutual friend I got to know an associate at the first firm I would interview with. They had been the biggest recruiter of Columbia students at the last EIP, and I had an insider helping me every step of the way. I felt like things would be off to a good start with Dewey & LeBeouf (ok sorry for the dramatic buildup there but I just had to reference that). I thought EIP went well, all my interviews seemed to have gone smoothly, but the results spoke for themselves. 1 callback about a firm that didn't really align with my core interests, and 0 offers once that callback was over. I began to feel more and more hopeless with every passing day, falling asleep full of regret every single night.

I had a brief moment of redemption in the fall. My "August intensive" corporations class had ended and I got an A despite slacking through the whole class. The professor solicited me for a RA position based on my exam and I was actually hopeful for a week or two. I signed up for some interviews for OCI, mailed out some applications to smaller firms that interested me. This is where my first paragraph left off. I got to experience all the rejection of EIP all over again, except without the closure of rejection letters. The last letter I sent out was also the one I worked the hardest on. I spent two hours carefully tailoring the cover letter to that particular firm. The firm was founded by a "relatively" young CLS alum and we had corresponded previously as he was the donor responsible for funding my particular "scholarship" (it's complicated). The letter wasn't unsolicited either, Symplicity and a list from career services made it clear that the firm was still looking for SA's through October. When I got an email the following week stating that they had already filled their summer class, I lost any remaining motivation to continue hunting for openings at other firms. Full fledged depression began to set in. While my attendance rate was already terrible by law school standards, it sunk even further. In a sort of cruel irony, by I got into classes related to my interests, my interests seemed to be foreclosed as viable career options, and thus the vicious cycle of apathy continued. I began seeing a mental health counselor at Columbia, but our talks didn't make much progress in the Fall.

Fortunately with an August course out of the way, and another course switched to pass-fail, I only had to get through 1 take-home exam and 1 essay for a seminar. I coasted through the take-home but had to ask for an extension on the essay. I had gone home and getting back into the mindset to spit out a dense essay packed with citations that I had long forgotten how to organize was difficult to say the least. As I approached the second extended deadline, winter break was nearly over. There was only one major doubt lingering in my head. I had no idea what the page requirement was. I was far too embarrassed to ask for such information after the regular deadline had already passed. The essay gave me a disturbing lesson: That even when I am hypothetically interested in writing on a subject - having to write a full-length LEGAL essay on the subject quickly destroyed any love I had for the material. As I ran out of relevant case law and references to course material, I felt satisfied stopping at 17 pages. I submitted my essay, just ready for a fresh start with Spring semester.

As with many things I do, I got off to a strong start in the Spring. I was excited about my professors and hopeful that I could turn 2L into the year that would salvage law school for me. By the end of the first week the latter hope that disappeared. My seminar professor informed me that I did not meet the 20 page requirement for the essay and that he felt my citations and analysis were wanting. I was crushed, but such an outcome was not unforeseeable. I tried to salvage the situation by mentioning a recent development on my topic and how I could incorporate a discussion of that development into a revamp'd essay that would address all his concerns. The seminar professor agreed and gave me two weeks to make any necessary changes. That Monday I skipped class so that I could sleep in and spend the day focused on writing the perfect essay. I collected new material, conducted more extensive legal research, and read through our course material again trying to make new connections. For the rest of the week I entered a vicious cycle of ignoring class reading in order to work on the essay, then when I would wake up 30 minutes before class (after liberal use of the snooze button) I didn't feel like going through the rushed process of waking up, showering, getting dressed for a class that I was wholly unprepared for. I was riddled with anxiety and it felt like a nice relaxing shot to the arm as soon as I told myself "Don't worry about class today, just get this paper done". Unfortunately, progress stalled on the paper. Through all my research (that I should've done months ago) I realized just how bad my first draft really was. It only referenced half the cases it needed to and entire portions of analysis would have to be rewritten to accommodate all the nuances I felt had to be included. I left myself with a "to do" list on the essay that felt even more insurmountable than just writing the whole thing from scratch.

This is when things just got ugly. After not going to class for nearly two weeks, I had adapted to the practice. I had also stopped making any semblance of progress on the essay. I would keep telling myself "Tomorrrow, tomorrow I will wake up and things will be different". But every day I would wake up with the same complete and utter apathy for everything related to law school. This crushing cycle of negativity spilled into the rest of my life. I would just sit in my room for days doing anything that would get my mind off law school. I still had no idea what I was going to do for a living, and every night I would be haunted by my past mistakes and current problems until I could fall asleep. By February, while I had kept up with my one "mandatory" class and some mandatory homework from other classes, I began to skip those as well. I just wanted to disappear, suicidal fantasies became a daily occurrence for me.

Finally near the end of February I got help. After missing a few too many mandatory classes, student services reached out to me. I revealed the full extent of my problem and I began seeing a counselor at student services, at the mental health center, and a psychiatrist. These three individuals helped get me back on my feet. For a while I was able to put all the thoughts about my future, my debt, my failures, etc. out of my mind and briefly got back into form. I was actually responding to email in a timely manner, completing assignments, and attending (most) of my classes. The victory was short lived however. I didn't have an assigned seat in two of my classes and they were small enough that I felt incredible anxiety about showing up. Both professors had learned the names of most the class and when I inevitably would get stuck in the front row I could feel their eyes linger on me, wondering, "when did he join my class?". While I wasn't completely detached as I was earlier in the semester, I still felt like "damaged goods". I reached out to two professors asking for help getting caught up, trying to explain my situation to them, and was ignored on both ends. Ultimately, I couldn't escape the negative feelings that had captured me before. I made a few more meager efforts to seek out jobs, nothing career services told me was encouraging or motivating, all I saw were table scraps and I was still depressed enough that I'd rather go home and spend a summer unemployed than take up 95% of the "opportunities" available for me (I use that term loosely since working for free in a geographic area I have no interest in doing work that I have interest in could scarcely be called an opportunity). Of course the 5% that did pique my interest never got back to me. One job was directed at to me though career services a PAID! position in-house in NYC. I applied weeks ago, and in a testament to their dedication I got an email back saying that I needed to call career services to "talk about" the position. I've called several times and emailed them back and never even got them to pick up the phone, so at this point I have just stopped caring.

Now here I am. It's May. I have no offers for this summer. I have probably attended class less than anyone else in the entire Class of 2013. I have no notes, no outlines, no significant readings, and I've got another exam coming up in 12 hours. All of these things don't even bother me that much. I'm just tired, that's the only word I can think of. Tired of everything. Even if I pulled together decent grades and a decent summer offer from some small boutique somewhere - I'm not convinced it would even matter. I'm going to end up with a shit job, with shit pay, and a shitload of debt that will always be there to remind me of my mistakes of the past two years. I could've stayed at my alma mater and had friends, less debt, and I might actually be able to get a job in my home state - something that has become almost necessary since the taxes and cost of living up here make paying my debt on a <100k salary virtually unthinkable. As of today, almost 50% of my applications have gone back to my home state and I have yet to convince even the most meager of employers that I actually intend to "come back home".

So yea, since I'd rather pull my own fingernails out than pretend to learn bankruptcy in a few hours, and M&A law after that... I'll be sticking around here all weekend.

A few notes to head off the trolls at the pass:
- Yes of course this is my fault, if I were as disciplined, organized, and motivated as most people here I obviously wouldn't be having problems now would I? Yet I'm stuck with this body and all its shitty flaws, impulses, and vices - trying to see any kind of light at the end of the tunnel.

- TL;DR, I know

- If you think you know who I am, you're probably wrong. There are about 2 people who know enough about me to connect the dots and they haven't posted here in over a year.

- This was therapeutic for me, since I can't very well do this in person without scaring people off and throwing away what few shreds of dignity I have left.

- I came into CLS with both an LSAT and GPA in the top-quarter of admitted students. I was able to handle my shit before law school, but something about being here has led me to fail more dramatically than I ever thought possible. Perhaps its depression, but the anti-depressants I've taken thus far haven't done squat for getting my motivation back.

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Mad Hatter
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby Mad Hatter » Fri May 04, 2012 2:01 am

:shock: Eye opening, happy I read this. Thank you, and best of luck.

Edit: also, a tiny piece of advice from a 0L: Keep an open mind. When I visited CLS, so many people were insanely closed minded about staying in NY doing biglaw. Open your horizons: the Midwest is awesome, and relaxed to boot. If you have any job offers there (or anywhere else outside NY), even if they don't pay 160k, think about it - you may be pleasantly surprised.
Last edited by Mad Hatter on Fri May 04, 2012 2:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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KevinP
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby KevinP » Fri May 04, 2012 2:08 am

Mad Hatter wrote::shock: Eye opening, happy I read this. Thank you, and best of luck.

+1

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rayiner
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby rayiner » Fri May 04, 2012 2:12 am

Yes of course this is my fault, if I were as disciplined, organized, and motivated as most people here I obviously wouldn't be having problems now would I? Yet I'm stuck with this body and all its shitty flaws, impulses, and vices - trying to see any kind of light at the end of the tunnel.


You are not stuck with yourself.

I went through undergrad pretty much exactly how you described. E.g. I skipped every lecture of "Intro to Aerospace Engineering." I skipped the final. I got an e-mail from the professor saying I had missed the final and telling me to schedule a makeup a week later. Saved! I didn't study for the make up final. I skipped the make up final. I failed. The next semester, I skipped every lecture of "Intro to Aerospace Engineering" again, except the last one. In the last one my professor said whatever we got on the final would be our grade. Took it, got an A. Enough to average to a C. Enough to keep my GPA over the "failing out" line. Rinse and repeat until I graduated... after five years of school.

At some point after graduation I realized that I couldn't continue being so goddamn lazy. I knew I wanted kids, knew I wanted to send them to college. Not have them live without health insurance because their dad was an utterly lazy fuck-up.

You are not stuck with yourself. You can eradicate every trace of that lazy fuck-up that used to be you. You need to find fear, or motivation, preferably both. You sound like you don't like law school and don't want to be a lawyer. If that is the case, quit. Trust me, as someone who has been there. Working hard to go down a road you don't want to be going will eat you up. If you were above the medians at CLS you probably have a scholarship, so hopefully this wasn't that expensive of a mistake.

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Nova
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby Nova » Fri May 04, 2012 2:16 am

You are going to graduate from CLS. Thats fucking awesome. Depression sucks. But you just gotta think how lucky you are to get a shot at life at all. You will be fine. Dont kill yourself. Fake a smile. See doctors. If you are ok with not making 160k, Im sure you will find something. Keep looking back home. Try to remember the vigor you had when you scored 175+ with a 3.9+ gpa.
Last edited by Nova on Fri May 04, 2012 2:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

shock259
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby shock259 » Fri May 04, 2012 2:24 am

Hang in there and keep talking to your therapist/psychatrist/whatevs. You can still pull out of this.

Throwaway2013
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby Throwaway2013 » Fri May 04, 2012 2:33 am

I'm adding some other points of discussion since I thought I might add some utility to my posts:

1) Your 1L summer job appears to matter a lot more than anyone lets on.

It could just be dumb luck, or maybe there are factors and/or sources of causation that I'm not including here but one thing I did notice when reflecting on EIP: People who landed the more competitive, prestigious, or difficult summer jobs always blew EIP away with flying colors even when accounting for grades/background/personality/etc. Likewise, people who tended to pick up whatever they could find were the ones I knew who struggled the most and often didn't get offers, callbacks, etc.

There are a lot of factors at play here, so take this with a grain of salt, but the disparity from my perspective was too much to ignore.

2) Having work experience before law school matters for employers more than law schools.

Of course the type of work matters, but serving as a paralegal, consultant, analyst, or really anything relevant to your field seems to give a significant boost to your chances of employment in a competitive field. The more relevant and the higher the responsibility you bore, the better. Law schools don't appear to value this factor nearly as much since it isn't as useful for padding their stats. Yet if you are like me (straight through), know that you will almost always lose out against a peer unless you can work some other advantage to your favor. Mediocrity + Job Experience will get you some offers where mediocrity + no experience will leave you striking out.

3) Being able to lie during interviews is a useful skill.

Some law students paint their peers in a cynical light. Sometimes this portrayal isn't fair. Yet when it down to incentives for students to lie, falsify their background, etc... it comes when you are interviewing. Being able to convincingly lie about your interest areas, geographic preference, firm preference, etc. will give you a significant advantage at EIP. You will be able to apply for a much broader range of firms with large summer classes that are appropriate for your grades/credentials if you can convince firms that you love litigation, transactional, energy, securities, white collar defense, sports law, on the Eastern/Western/Southern coastline because your Parents/Fiance/Sickly Relative/Disabled sibling are already there waiting for you, and frankly you have always wanted to work at a firm that is large/small/focused/broad/structured/open/friendly/growing/stable/new/old/etc.

When I reflected on EIP with other students, nowhere did I encounter more cynicism than in honesty during interviews. The stakes are immensely high and it appears that some people have no problem inventing significant others, relatives, and fabrications about their own interests and preferences in order to score points in their favor.

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Dany
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby Dany » Fri May 04, 2012 2:34 am

:(

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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby acrossthelake » Fri May 04, 2012 2:41 am

I'm really sorry. You sound depressed, and it's not your fault. You sound really bright and talented, but unhappy and unmotivated in law. You know it's not ability--you wouldn't pull off good performance so effortlessly otherwise. If your meds aren't working, talk about it with your psychiatrist/therapist/general team.





If anybody is, god forbid, actually thinking of trolling this thread, please be on notice that I will ban you into oblivion.

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chup
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby chup » Fri May 04, 2012 2:44 am

OP: Have you given any thought to giving up on law if it's making you this miserable? Or at least taking a leave of absence to collect yourself?

Throwaway2013
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby Throwaway2013 » Fri May 04, 2012 2:45 am

rayiner wrote:
Yes of course this is my fault, if I were as disciplined, organized, and motivated as most people here I obviously wouldn't be having problems now would I? Yet I'm stuck with this body and all its shitty flaws, impulses, and vices - trying to see any kind of light at the end of the tunnel.


You are not stuck with yourself.

I went through undergrad pretty much exactly how you described. E.g. I skipped every lecture of "Intro to Aerospace Engineering." I skipped the final. I got an e-mail from the professor saying I had missed the final and telling me to schedule a makeup a week later. Saved! I didn't study for the make up final. I skipped the make up final. I failed. The next semester, I skipped every lecture of "Intro to Aerospace Engineering" again, except the last one. In the last one my professor said whatever we got on the final would be our grade. Took it, got an A. Enough to average to a C. Enough to keep my GPA over the "failing out" line. Rinse and repeat until I graduated... after five years of school.

At some point after graduation I realized that I couldn't continue being so goddamn lazy. I knew I wanted kids, knew I wanted to send them to college. Not have them live without health insurance because their dad was an utterly lazy fuck-up.

You are not stuck with yourself. You can eradicate every trace of that lazy fuck-up that used to be you. You need to find fear, or motivation, preferably both. You sound like you don't like law school and don't want to be a lawyer. If that is the case, quit. Trust me, as someone who has been there. Working hard to go down a road you don't want to be going will eat you up. If you were above the medians at CLS you probably have a scholarship, so hopefully this wasn't that expensive of a mistake.


The balance of being a screw-up and having the fear/motivation to become more than that have always played a shifting balance in my life. Unfortunately fucking up that last week of 1L Spring was the ultimate fuck up and I feel like there's almost nothing I can do to recover from that.

Reality is coming, and I'm sure once the loan payments start coming in, and the bills, and all the other shit that comes after graduation - I may finally transform into that mature adult who handles their responsibilities well in advance and doesn't float through life like I am. What depresses me is that I see no hope for that adult. I will have found maturity just in time for me to spend the rest of my life digging myself out of the hole that a couple years of screwing up law school got me into.

Throwaway2013
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby Throwaway2013 » Fri May 04, 2012 2:57 am

Mad Hatter wrote::shock: Eye opening, happy I read this. Thank you, and best of luck.

Edit: also, a tiny piece of advice from a 0L: Keep an open mind. When I visited CLS, so many people were insanely closed minded about staying in NY doing biglaw. Open your horizons: the Midwest is awesome, and relaxed to boot. If you have any job offers there (or anywhere else outside NY), even if they don't pay 160k, think about it - you may be pleasantly surprised.


Geography is tricky. I paid a lot more to come to Columbia for the sole purpose of breaking open the NYC and DC markets. My alma mater is T-14 and significantly cheaper. Even now, I would be fine with "going home" for a few years of work. My home state has a very healthy legal market too, so what am I missing?

But let me portray what career services/Columbia professors perceive "going home" to be like:
"Look at this fancy Ivy league lawyer, I sure wish we had someone from such an exotic and elite institution here! I don't even need to finish reading this resume, you come from such an esteemed school I have no doubt that you belong here at our firm."

Reality:
"We understand that you come from a great school, so while we usually pull only from the top 20% in area schools, for Columbia we are willing to dip into the top 30%."

I cannot emphasize enough how true the latter statement really is. Maybe if you can find Columbia alum at the firm and make the right connections you can get better mileage. My experience has been, if GPA+LSAT truly are the best indicators of law school class rank, you are almost certainly better off staying at a respectable "regional school". The "bonus" you get for attending more competitive schools does not outweigh the drop in class rank you will inevitably suffer at a more competitive school. This only applies to certain "regional markets" like my home state, Columbia still gives almost unrivaled access to the NYC market. But I'm stuck here with my sunk cost fallacy convinced that if I don't fully leverage the only reason I really came to Columbia, then I wasted a lot of money and stress. And believe me, I've tried to break back into my home market - and all I've gotten is rejection and skepticism (this includes EIP).

$$$$$$
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby $$$$$$ » Fri May 04, 2012 2:57 am

You are not going to like what I am going to say, but I am going to say it because you sound EXACTLY like me. Struck during OCI, had a decent 1st semester 1L then totally, absolutely bombed 2nd semester. Why? Because I did nothing, no class, no studying, everyday I was a hour from dropping out. Summer job? Got bored, barely finished my project because I the work was less than really interesting. I have been this way my whole life...start strong, get bored and quit.

But you can't do this. If you don't have a summer job as of right now, rather than posting on here, you should be hitting up every single employer that has alumni of CLS or your alma mater. You should be calling your friends trying to get a job, internship, something that can help you. I don't know what your background or story is, but if you go to Columbia Law, you still have doors open to you that most do not, legal or otherwise. You go to school in F***ing New York City, start meeting people. Law school didn't work out, so what, it sounds like you would be absolutely miserable as a lawyer anyways, so use the CLS degree to get you in some doors. From experience I can say that telling people in consulting or finance that you don't like law school is a good thing, because those people despise lawyers. Use that degree to your advantage and make something happen.

I can say that after getting my terrible grades back last year, I have been working my ass off ... for 11 months straight, and I will have to continue to do so until I get a full-time job, and I am freaking tired and worn out...but its working. And on top of that I realized that I can work just as hard as these crazy people that propagate top law schools, I just do it in a different way and now I have sustained motivation. You can always fix what you do wrong, especially if you go to one of the best law schools in the country.

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Borhas
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby Borhas » Fri May 04, 2012 3:14 am

I would start settling for those 95%er "opportunities" you may end up w/ a shit job w/ shit pay but so what? Life goes on. It won't go the way you planned but again, so what? You'll get by, you'll have food and shelter, you won't be ostracized or oppressed, you won't get tossed into debtors prison. But you will need to build up good habits again. Start with the basics: regular sleep and exercise. Also may want to go to a psychiatrist.

Throwaway2013
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby Throwaway2013 » Fri May 04, 2012 3:25 am

chup wrote:OP: Have you given any thought to giving up on law if it's making you this miserable? Or at least taking a leave of absence to collect yourself?


f7 wrote:Take a leave of absence. CLS has to be one of the worst places to be if you're depressed.


It's been considered. But I'm at the end of the semester. 3 more days and I can go wherever I want. I agree that this is an awful place to be depressed, my apartment feels like a spacious jail block.

I'm just not sure what a leave of absence would do. My impressions of it so far:
- I would still have to pay for almost all of this semester
- It would be just as much of a black mark on my transcript as a semester of poor grades
- It certainly wouldn't guarantee that anything gets improved
- Meanwhile some of my undergrad loans are compounding interest

I need to do more than collect myself, I just don't seem many viable options for self-improvement either - aside from finding a magic bullet in new medication, I'm not sure what I can hope for except a modest improvement in my mood/outlook in return for a year of my life.

@$$$$$$

I want to find that fire, I really do. I know it's in me somewhere, I've had it before. But right now I can't find the energy to just snap my fingers and start going to door to door looking for a job.

I'm not even convinced I'd be miserable as a lawyer, I want to feel useful and productive, I want to feel like my intellectual talents are being leveraged when I work (even if that work is long, difficult, dull, etc). But right now, between my depression, exams, and the absolute dearth of quality jobs available - summoning that motivation feels nigh impossible. I just skimmed symplicity and saw a new posting that sounded right up my alley, until I saw the compensation section as "For academic credit". I feel like those little defeats have just knocked the wind out of my sails, I'm playing the cynical economist at this point and saying that if there were opportunities out there that paid and offered good experience, someone has filled that spot.

Borhas wrote:I would start settling for those 95%er "opportunities" you may end up w/ a shit job w/ shit pay but so what? Life goes on. It won't go the way you planned but again, so what? You'll get by, you'll have food and shelter, you won't be ostracized or oppressed, you won't get tossed into debtors prison. But you will need to build up good habits again. Start with the basics: regular sleep and exercise. Also may want to go to a psychiatrist.


Settling for those opportunities may be necessity at this point. But unfortunately in my distorted mental state, I see "giving up" and "taking a shit job" and practically tantamount. My undergrad degree opens some doors for me too and I'm pretty confident that I'd have more mobility in those positions than I would in some bottom of the barrel law job. If the choice was that stark I'm not so sure I'd even come back next year. The only thing that keeps me going is this faint hope that somehow things will come together.

Yes I know I'll have food, no debtors prison, etc. but that's not why I've been in this miserable state. It's the expectations and investments that come to law school, if the most I can leave CLS with is "at least im not starving or in debtor's prison" then I don't see myself being any less depressed then than I am now.

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rayiner
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby rayiner » Fri May 04, 2012 3:37 am

Throwaway2013 wrote:Some law students paint their peers in a cynical light. Sometimes this portrayal isn't fair. Yet when it down to incentives for students to lie, falsify their background, etc... it comes when you are interviewing. Being able to convincingly lie about your interest areas, geographic preference, firm preference, etc. will give you a significant advantage at EIP. You will be able to apply for a much broader range of firms with large summer classes that are appropriate for your grades/credentials if you can convince firms that you love litigation, transactional, energy, securities, white collar defense, sports law, on the Eastern/Western/Southern coastline because your Parents/Fiance/Sickly Relative/Disabled sibling are already there waiting for you, and frankly you have always wanted to work at a firm that is large/small/focused/broad/structured/open/friendly/growing/stable/new/old/etc.


Short of inventing significant others, this isn't lying. This is an elaborate social exchange where the firm knows you kiss ass and the firm knows you're just kissing ass. It's like telling a chick her new haircut isn't ugly or anything you tell your mother in law.

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mallard
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby mallard » Fri May 04, 2012 3:39 am

I PMed you, but in case someone in a similar situation stumbles upon this post at a later date, here are the cliffs:
- The first thing you do once you finish your exam tomorrow is to go to a psychiatrist. Do not accept being set up with a therapist, do not accept a diagnosis of "stress." Seek medication if possible and if you're comfortable with it.
- If at all possible, outsource your summer job search to a good friend or, ideally, to Career Services. It is absolutely self-destructive to continue to go through the cycle of anxiety and rejection again if you have any alternative whatsoever.
- Put some thought into whether you had feelings like this first at law school, or if maybe there were some other moments in your life that brought about similar states in you. Once you've done that, find a good therapist and talk to them about it. (Good meaning you think they're good. They should be smart, since you are. They shouldn't have trouble keeping up.)
- If the potential for rejection isn't debilitating, reach out to people who will be where you are this summer (once you know, or New York if that's your default). Tell them you know you've been out of touch this semester, but you were dealing with some shit, and you apologize and really value their friendship, or whatever.
- Tell a family member, an old teacher, or a friend from college or high school what's been going on, with the kind of detail you laid out in this thread. Pick somebody whose main motivation upon hearing about it will be concern for your emotional well-being.

The main thing you should know, which I think I might not have mentioned in my PM, is that the absolute failure that you seem determined to stave off is probably the healthiest thing in the world for you. Everyone should flunk a few courses in their life and realize that the sun keeps shining and the grass keeps growing. Everyone should fall behind their cohort from time to time and ask themselves how bad it really is back there. Most law students are motivated in large part by an immense fear of failure and a pressure to meet the expectations of others. It turns out that it's not so bad to fail and to fall short of expectations. Often those expectations are pretty stupid anyway. And that's probably why you've felt so horrible all along.

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rayiner
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby rayiner » Fri May 04, 2012 3:40 am

My experience has been, if GPA+LSAT truly are the best indicators of law school class rank, you are almost certainly better off staying at a respectable "regional school". The "bonus" you get for attending more competitive schools does not outweigh the drop in class rank you will inevitably suffer at a more competitive school.


I completely disagree. Top firms in the market I have strong ties to hire around the median here at NU, and around top quarter at their local T25. Some firms don't care about the pedigree, but others are impressed. You just have to find the ones that are.

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crEEp
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby crEEp » Fri May 04, 2012 3:44 am

I've never been interested in law school drama, so I also put myself into "self-imposed exile." It's possible that this level of isolation is actually causing some or all of your anxiety--at least, that was the case for me. Law school isn't exactly kind to people who are genuinely laid back and opposed to the cutthroatedness that plagues the profession. But I've found that it's not exactly mean to them, either; instead, it's coldly indifferent. That's the problem, as I see it.

Some might suggest taking time for introspection to determine whether law is "the right choice," but there's something that convinced you of this path, and it's possibly just the ridiculously unrealistic law school environment that's getting in the way. There's so much more to law than whoring yourself to huge firms--especially in NYC! Look into the tech start-up scene, for example, if that interests you. The trick is to find something that sparks the intrinsic desire to learn. Find what you love and tailor your law school experience to that, and it will do more good than any amount of psychotherapy.

$$$$$$
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby $$$$$$ » Fri May 04, 2012 3:56 am

Throwaway2013 wrote:
chup wrote:OP: Have you given any thought to giving up on law if it's making you this miserable? Or at least taking a leave of absence to collect yourself?


f7 wrote:Take a leave of absence. CLS has to be one of the worst places to be if you're depressed.


It's been considered. But I'm at the end of the semester. 3 more days and I can go wherever I want. I agree that this is an awful place to be depressed, my apartment feels like a spacious jail block.

I'm just not sure what a leave of absence would do. My impressions of it so far:
- I would still have to pay for almost all of this semester
- It would be just as much of a black mark on my transcript as a semester of poor grades
- It certainly wouldn't guarantee that anything gets improved
- Meanwhile some of my undergrad loans are compounding interest

I need to do more than collect myself, I just don't seem many viable options for self-improvement either - aside from finding a magic bullet in new medication, I'm not sure what I can hope for except a modest improvement in my mood/outlook in return for a year of my life.

@$$$$$$

I want to find that fire, I really do. I know it's in me somewhere, I've had it before. But right now I can't find the energy to just snap my fingers and start going to door to door looking for a job.

I'm not even convinced I'd be miserable as a lawyer, I want to feel useful and productive, I want to feel like my intellectual talents are being leveraged when I work (even if that work is long, difficult, dull, etc). But right now, between my depression, exams, and the absolute dearth of quality jobs available - summoning that motivation feels nigh impossible. I just skimmed symplicity and saw a new posting that sounded right up my alley, until I saw the compensation section as "For academic credit". I feel like those little defeats have just knocked the wind out of my sails, I'm playing the cynical economist at this point and saying that if there were opportunities out there that paid and offered good experience, someone has filled that spot.

Borhas wrote:I would start settling for those 95%er "opportunities" you may end up w/ a shit job w/ shit pay but so what? Life goes on. It won't go the way you planned but again, so what? You'll get by, you'll have food and shelter, you won't be ostracized or oppressed, you won't get tossed into debtors prison. But you will need to build up good habits again. Start with the basics: regular sleep and exercise. Also may want to go to a psychiatrist.


Settling for those opportunities may be necessity at this point. But unfortunately in my distorted mental state, I see "giving up" and "taking a shit job" and practically tantamount. My undergrad degree opens some doors for me too and I'm pretty confident that I'd have more mobility in those positions than I would in some bottom of the barrel law job. If the choice was that stark I'm not so sure I'd even come back next year. The only thing that keeps me going is this faint hope that somehow things will come together.

Yes I know I'll have food, no debtors prison, etc. but that's not why I've been in this miserable state. It's the expectations and investments that come to law school, if the most I can leave CLS with is "at least im not starving or in debtor's prison" then I don't see myself being any less depressed then than I am now.



You want to be paid and get your talents leveraged, and that is understandable, and its understandable how you feel. But what you need to do is finish exams. Then you take a weekend and just relax, clear your mind, smoke a blunt, do something to relax. Starting after that weekend you start to hustle. If you think you need to go door to door you are wrong. You said that your undergrad degree was something useful...what was it? There are so many opportunities in New York. You have to start making targeted lists to alumni of your schools (your went to a T-14 undergrad also? Start freaking networking). Would you be an accountant? Hit them up, Would you be in finance? Hit them up? Were you an engineer? Start hitting them up. It is just mail merging and tailoring. Before you know it, you'll be having meetings with people. In those meetings you try and be as positive as possible, be friendly, make them like you and want to go to bat for you. Try and get your foot in the door.

You can do this, or give up, be depressed and make everything you said a self-fulfilling prophecy. You don't want to be in a shit job with shit pay, then go make it happen. Do it the old-fashioned way, work hard, earn it. SO WHAT if you take a job for credit. If it is what you want to do, then DO IT. This is how you break into industries and careers, you can meet people and do good work, and they may want you back after you graduate, or at least put in a good word for you at places where they know people. Come on dude, I don't spend time on this site very often, especially writing shit like this, but I think we are similar and I have had similar problems to you and the same types of regrets. But you are still 20 something years old and next year will have a law degree from Columbia. It is time to quit feeling sorry for yourself and use your 7 years of absurdly good schooling to your advantage.

Being honest, I would never hire someone like you the way you are now, same way I would have never hired myself a year ago. You have to change that, you have to light that fire because no one else is going to do it for you, and no one is looking to throw you a bone. You have just yourself and your talents to get you to where you want to go, so start thinking that way, go out there and get shit done.

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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby joemoviebuff » Fri May 04, 2012 4:22 am

I don't have much to add to what's already been said, I just want offer the OP my best wishes. Hang in there, buddy, and definitely go see a therapist.

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mallard
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby mallard » Fri May 04, 2012 4:24 am

$$$$$$ wrote:You want to be paid and get your talents leveraged, and that is understandable, and its understandable how you feel. But what you need to do is finish exams. Then you take a weekend and just relax, clear your mind, smoke a blunt, do something to relax. Starting after that weekend you start to hustle. If you think you need to go door to door you are wrong. You said that your undergrad degree was something useful...what was it? There are so many opportunities in New York. You have to start making targeted lists to alumni of your schools (your went to a T-14 undergrad also? Start freaking networking). Would you be an accountant? Hit them up, Would you be in finance? Hit them up? Were you an engineer? Start hitting them up. It is just mail merging and tailoring. Before you know it, you'll be having meetings with people. In those meetings you try and be as positive as possible, be friendly, make them like you and want to go to bat for you. Try and get your foot in the door.

You can do this, or give up, be depressed and make everything you said a self-fulfilling prophecy. You don't want to be in a shit job with shit pay, then go make it happen. Do it the old-fashioned way, work hard, earn it. SO WHAT if you take a job for credit. If it is what you want to do, then DO IT. This is how you break into industries and careers, you can meet people and do good work, and they may want you back after you graduate, or at least put in a good word for you at places where they know people. Come on dude, I don't spend time on this site very often, especially writing shit like this, but I think we are similar and I have had similar problems to you and the same types of regrets. But you are still 20 something years old and next year will have a law degree from Columbia. It is time to quit feeling sorry for yourself and use your 7 years of absurdly good schooling to your advantage.

Being honest, I would never hire someone like you the way you are now, same way I would have never hired myself a year ago. You have to change that, you have to light that fire because no one else is going to do it for you, and no one is looking to throw you a bone. You have just yourself and your talents to get you to where you want to go, so start thinking that way, go out there and get shit done.


Again, just for posterity, I want to note that for anybody who actually has the OP's symptoms and behaviors, this is probably the worst possible way to think about your situation, and it will send you deeper into whatever it is you're in right now.

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tyro
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby tyro » Fri May 04, 2012 4:39 am

A person as gifted as you should only feel trapped in the sense that you're being duped by your own mind. It sounds like you can do just about anything if you can figure yourself out first.

Throwaway2013
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby Throwaway2013 » Fri May 04, 2012 4:46 am

Thanks for the messages so far, I'm really trying to do some soul-searching and figure things out right now.

Just some quick responses to comments:

- In terms of moving toward absolute failure, I don't think I will be any closer than this semester. If I don't flunk a course then I will certainly be getting low marks in all my classes. Missing mandatory classes, mandatory meetings, 0 participation, no notes/outlines/etc. virtually ensures that I will be getting some of the lowest marks Columbia can offer its 2L's. I just wish there was something positive to go with that resignation. If I've hit rock bottom, where is the path up and out? I know some of you have offered answers to that effect, and I'm still mulling over them. On a related note: What do I tell employers in the Fall about 2L? I will be asking the same question to career services but I'd like to hear input here as well. Do I simply try and distract them from my transcript or do I come clean and tell them everything and try and turn it into a story of improvement?

- I didn't emphasize enough how important money is right now. I've got enough in the bank to pay my last month's rent here. I will need to pay travel expenses/moving expenses and another security deposit long before I get my current one back. I took an unpaid gig last Summer and it caused a lot of headaches between the lag from our school's summer funding and all frontloaded expenses I had to eat. While unpaid isn't out of the question, I would really like to get some kind of savings since I have no idea what post-graduation is going to look like. I have no parental safety net beyond a home I can go back to if all else fails, there's a lot at stake if I bite off more than I can chew with an unpaid gig.

tyro wrote:A person as gifted as you should only feel trapped in the sense that you're being duped by your own mind. It sounds like you can do just about anything if you can figure yourself out first.


I've heard this from multiple counselors, its a simple and poignant observation. But for me, some of the problems I've been facing in law school (disorganization, apathy, pathetic time management, procrastination, anxiety) have been with me my whole life. In some sense, it's depressing to think about my problem like this. There are usually ways to address problems that are solely external, but I feel that if medication or therapy can't "fix" me then I may be broken like this for the rest of my life.

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mallard
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Re: Depresssion, Apathy, & Unemployment from a CLS-2L (Long)

Postby mallard » Fri May 04, 2012 4:49 am

Throwaway2013 wrote:- In terms of moving toward absolute failure, I don't think I will be any closer than this semester. If I don't flunk a course then I will certainly be getting low marks in all my classes. Missing mandatory classes, mandatory meetings, 0 participation, no notes/outlines/etc. virtually ensures that I will be getting some of the lowest marks Columbia can offer its 2L's. I just wish there was something positive to go with that resignation. If I've hit rock bottom, where is the path up and out? I know some of you have offered answers to that effect, and I'm still mulling over them. On a related note: What do I tell employers in the Fall about 2L? I will be asking the same question to career services but I'd like to hear input here as well. Do I simply try and distract them from my transcript or do I come clean and tell them everything and try and turn it into a story of improvement?


My guess is that the healthiest thing will be honesty, including disclosing a diagnosis. That might not be the best thing for your employment prospects; other people will probably be able to tell you more about that.




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