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.