Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

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Perseus_I
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Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Perseus_I » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:23 pm

I am a 2L who failed firm OCI (not due to numbers but due to "flat affect" / lack of voice inflection -- something I've since fixed) and was then diagnosed with a type of high-functioning autism (slightly different from Asperger's/less weird). I ended up getting something with one of the federal agencies that hires out of law school, but I'm feeling very unengaged in all my classes (even by 2L standards). The main reason is I don't have any close friends and so feel isolated and like I don't belong in this profession at all. Isn't it all about networking?

I've been working with an acting teacher to polish my external social skills, quite successfully, but I'm still not able to connect with others in a meaningful way, and this may be a permanent condition. There isn't the type of support for students with disabilities that there is with other "minorities."

So is there even a type of law in which I can be successful long-term? Is it even worth it to stay in law school if I don't have debt to pay off?

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3|ink
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby 3|ink » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:29 pm

If any of my classmates read this, they'll probably think you are me. Except I haven't done OCI cause I already have a jerb.

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PickMe!
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby PickMe! » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:32 pm

Awww ... dude, I'll be friends with you.

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dowu
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby dowu » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:43 pm

Perseus_I wrote:I am a 2L who failed firm OCI (not due to numbers but due to "flat affect" / lack of voice inflection -- something I've since fixed) and was then diagnosed with a type of high-functioning autism (slightly different from Asperger's/less weird). I ended up getting something with one of the federal agencies that hires out of law school, but I'm feeling very unengaged in all my classes (even by 2L standards). The main reason is I don't have any close friends and so feel isolated and like I don't belong in this profession at all. Isn't it all about networking?

I've been working with an acting teacher to polish my external social skills, quite successfully, but I'm still not able to connect with others in a meaningful way, and this may be a permanent condition. There isn't the type of support for students with disabilities that there is with other "minorities."

So is there even a type of law in which I can be successful long-term? Is it even worth it to stay in law school if I don't have debt to pay off?

(3link alt)

truevines
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby truevines » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:37 pm

Perseus_I wrote:So is there even a type of law in which I can be successful long-term? Is it even worth it to stay in law school if I don't have debt to pay off?


Patent, especially patent prosecution. Or tax.

09042014
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby 09042014 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:40 pm

truevines wrote:
Perseus_I wrote:So is there even a type of law in which I can be successful long-term? Is it even worth it to stay in law school if I don't have debt to pay off?


Patent, especially patent prosecution. Or tax.


I love when law students think these people are nerdy, and don't realize they are super nerds as well. The worst is people who think they are bros because they do corp work.

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laxbrah420
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby laxbrah420 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:45 pm

3|ink wrote:If any of my classmates read this, they'll probably think you are me. Except I haven't done OCI cause I already have a jerb.

He said he has no friends so what you wrote makes no sense.

Also don't drop out bro. "It" is about working not networking. That'd be like not playing football because you suck at the 40. Sucks you don't "relate" to people but I think you're really overestimating the magnitude of your deficit and mostly what the hell kind of job would you prefer? A lot of succesful entrepreneurs have Aspergers/hfa because they're forced out of traditional roles --but a ton more fail. One of my profs talked about a dude in her old firm who was just asked to write --he was the exception to the rule, but perhaps you can prove your value in other ways than socializing and still make a nice career here. You're going to have to deal with this shit everywhere though I think.

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dowu
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby dowu » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:47 pm

laxbrah420 wrote:
3|ink wrote:If any of my classmates read this, they'll probably think you are me. Except I haven't done OCI cause I already have a jerb.

He said he has no friends so what you wrote makes no sense.

Also don't drop out bro. "It" is about working not networking. That'd be like not playing football because you suck at the 40. Sucks you don't "relate" to people but I think you're really overestimating the magnitude of your deficit and mostly what the hell kind of job would you prefer? A lot of succesful entrepreneurs have Aspergers/hfa because they're forced out of traditional roles --but a ton more fail. One of my profs talked about a dude in her old firm who was just asked to write --he was the exception to the rule, but perhaps you can prove your value in other ways than socializing and still make a nice career here. You're going to have to deal with this shit everywhere though I think.

Solid advice. Vote for Lax, most helpful poster of 2013.
Last edited by dowu on Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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cinephile
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby cinephile » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:56 pm

I know just how you feel, but in a different way.

Don't worry, you'll get to the point where you can put on your prettiest smile and go out into the world and charm people. And they'll think they know you and you'll be "friends" but you won't really understand them nor them you. And you'll feel like a phony and kind of hate yourself and find that you can only relate to your so-called friends when you're drinking. And you start wondering if maybe you drink too much?

And maybe I don't know what you mean, but my solution is to move to Portland to put myself in an environment with people I have more in common with.

Have you ever been in a situation where you connected with other people? Just try to figure out what it was that worked then, then seek out people like that.

Life in general is alienating, and even though I think everyone should drop out of law school, I'm not sure alienation is one of the good reasons for doing so because who is to say you'd fit better elsewhere?

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marlborofillet
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby marlborofillet » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:37 pm

laxbrah420 wrote:You're going to have to deal with this shit everywhere though I think.

This. And this:
cinephile wrote:Life in general is alienating

Read the stoics; workout daily; and, find a hobby.

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Perseus_I
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Perseus_I » Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:17 am

cinephile wrote:I know just how you feel, but in a different way.

Don't worry, you'll get to the point where you can put on your prettiest smile and go out into the world and charm people. And they'll think they know you and you'll be "friends" but you won't really understand them nor them you. And you'll feel like a phony and kind of hate yourself and find that you can only relate to your so-called friends when you're drinking. And you start wondering if maybe you drink too much?

And maybe I don't know what you mean, but my solution is to move to Portland to put myself in an environment with people I have more in common with.

Have you ever been in a situation where you connected with other people? Just try to figure out what it was that worked then, then seek out people like that.

Life in general is alienating, and even though I think everyone should drop out of law school, I'm not sure alienation is one of the good reasons for doing so because who is to say you'd fit better elsewhere?


Thanks.

I may feel particularly uncomfortable in law (and especially at my school) because the profession seems to attract a lot of loud/flamboyant people. A lot of law students are loud and intimidating and just make me feel uncomfortable around them. I don't think the legal profession is much different. All the unnecessary fancy clothes are intimidating too. I don't know how to pick out half that stuff, or combine it properly for that matter, so I usually stick to simple stuff that "normal" people (i.e. undergrads) wear. This even though I have more money than most of my classmate (not counting all their wealthy parents, of course). More opportunities to feel uncomfortable I guess. Why are law students so ostentatious about everything?

I can't say I've actually connected well with anyone (that part of my brain may not exist), but it has been better in the past than it is around law students. Not sure if it is me, or the circumstances. But if I have an especial inability to socialize with law students, then why the hell would I stay in law?!?! That seems like a recipe for a dead career.

So Portland? You're right that maybe simply changing locations would be beneficial. I've also thought about moving to the Marianas, American Samoa, or one of the other territories after graduation (perhaps for a clerkship). The situations where I've been the most comfortable socializing are around less sophisticated people who lack pretentiousness and obsessions with materialism (basically the opposite of most law students/lawyers).

So what would be a good way to relocate to a remote Pacific island without high education or wealth after graduation?

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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 2:57 am

Networking is for assholes. Become an asshole. Or, accept that like many things in life, networking is a skill, and some people are naturals, and some people suuuccckkkk and hate it. But that's OK, I'm not convinced networking is a necessary condition of a successful legal career. Just because some douche is good at hob nobbing doesn't mean he's a good lawyer.

I'll also answer the question you're begging. Yes, you should talk to a psychotherapist. You're smart enough to know that you're describing classical depression symptoms. Acting coach? Clever actually, a good skill, but you're addressing the "how to not act this way" question, not the "why do I feel this way" question. You can't fake affect (can you?), it seems innate. Not to sound cliche, but you need to get right with you, and be comfortable with who you actually are and not worry about trying to be someone else.

You're also a 2L. Sounds like, in a weird way, you're lamenting both the fact that you feel so different than your peers yet are pissed that you struck out at OCI- like many of your peers. Law school is a different world than practice. I've met a ton of unsociable folks who are nevertheless successful. And the fact that you find the typical law student to be boorish or uninteresting - you sound normal to me. I think you need to deal with your mental state more generally - I don't think The Law is, itself, the root of your problem.

Good luck.

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bk1
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby bk1 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:03 am

Perseus_I wrote:I may feel particularly uncomfortable in law (and especially at my school) because the profession seems to attract a lot of loud/flamboyant people. A lot of law students are loud and intimidating and just make me feel uncomfortable around them. I don't think the legal profession is much different. All the unnecessary fancy clothes are intimidating too. I don't know how to pick out half that stuff, or combine it properly for that matter, so I usually stick to simple stuff that "normal" people (i.e. undergrads) wear. This even though I have more money than most of my classmate (not counting all their wealthy parents, of course). More opportunities to feel uncomfortable I guess. Why are law students so ostentatious about everything?

I can't say I've actually connected well with anyone (that part of my brain may not exist), but it has been better in the past than it is around law students. Not sure if it is me, or the circumstances. But if I have an especial inability to socialize with law students, then why the hell would I stay in law?!?! That seems like a recipe for a dead career.

This doesn't sound like law school at all. People wear sweats in law school and lawyers tend to be betas.

And suits intimidate you?

rad lulz
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby rad lulz » Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:30 am

Tell the Feds you have a mental disability. It will make you more attractive for federal hiring (not joke)

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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby spleenworship » Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:37 am

1) Therapy

2) Don't drop out until you know for sure that law isn't for you. Lots of successful lawyers in this world who are aspie as heck. Isn't a problem.

3) If you know law isn't for you, don't drop out until you do know. If that means you graduate with a useless degree, well... you are already more than halfway done, so it really won't be much worse.

4) Networking is important, but not vital. And it can be done in ways that work with your condition. But most of lawyering is analyzing arguments, reading, writing, arguing on paper, etc. If you don't do criminal law you can be a successful attorney and never once see the inside of a courtroom as first chair, never really have to deal with clients, etc. You make yourself an invaluable partner to someone who can do that stuff but not be as good at the stuff you do well.

5) I question how much of this is transfer blues. I've met several people who transferred and really miss the camaraderie of their 1L class.

6) Good luck bro. If it helps I'm told I'm charismatic as heck and connect well to people and I still dislike or outright hate more than half my class and more than half the attorneys I've met.

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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby bjsesq » Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:44 am

3|ink wrote:If any of my classmates read this, they'll probably think you are me. Except I haven't done OCI cause I already have a jerb.


Thanks for sharing your win, I guess.

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cinephile
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby cinephile » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:50 am

I just don't think you're going to find things to be better anywhere else because it doesn't sound law school/law specific. Especially since you've never really connected well with anyone. It'd be different if you said you used to be a musician and really clicked with everyone at your conservatory, because then it'd make so much sense that you should leave the law for a more creative profession, but as it is . . . this might be something you have to find a way to live with.

And as far as moving somewhere new and starting fresh, I suppose that's a part of it, but for me anyway I'm looking for a place with people I fit better with and I just like the culture in the Northwest much better than anywhere else in the US. So if you know of a place that's a good fit for you, that's a good start, but I suppose you could use this as an excuse to travel the US a bit and try to find the right place for you.

Also, I don't know if this will be helpful, but anytime I'm feeling particularly alienated I reread Franny and Zooey. It doesn't really offer any solutions, but it's good to know that this feeling is "normal."

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northwood
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby northwood » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:02 am

you are over half way done. just ride it out, especially since your debt total is minimal

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:23 am

I guess what you describe isn't necessarily law-specific, but on the other hand, it doesn't sound like law school/lawyers I've met, either. Everyone at my school lived in jeans/t-shirts/yoga pants/fleece, so definitely not fancy, and while people are loud in the sense that they talk in class, and pretentious in the sense that there are gunners who will show off what they know at the drop of a hat, I wouldn't call my law school classmates either ostentatious or obsessed with materialism. I know there are lots of jokes about lawyers and there's the belief in a lawyer type, but l also think law students/lawyers are just like the rest of the human race - a huge range of different kinds of people. So it may be that the culture at your law school is crappy (this happens), or, I wonder in part if you've decided lawyers/law students are a certain way, so you look for things to confirm that they are, in fact, that way.

The other thing I wanted to add, though, is that law is a job, not a lifestyle. You don't have to have close friends through your work and whether you have close friends there or not shouldn't have much to do with whether you do well in law school. (This may sound cold - I should point out I'm a non-trad, I'm married and I commuted, and I treated law school like a job - it was my thing to do, not a place to find friends. I did make friends, yes - most of my classmates were awesome people - but that wasn't the purpose of law school.) I realize this is hard when it feels like everyone else is making BFFs for life and I'm not saying that social life is unimportant or that feeling isolated is a-okay. But whether or not you have close friends in a profession is not necessarily a sign that you shouldn't be in a profession. So it might help to try to separate your unhappiness with your social situation from your unhappiness with law.

(I mean, yes, as you suggest with your OCI example, how you connect to people is relevant to success in law - but it's also relevant to success in pretty much every profession I can think of. I'm not convinced the issues you raise are really about law.)

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Perseus_I
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Perseus_I » Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:35 am

bk1 wrote:
Perseus_I wrote:And suits intimidate you?


No not suits. I have some good ones from Brooks Brothers. The "casual" stuff people wear, especially sweater vests for guys, and lots of things of which I don't know the names for girls, are pretentious.

Yes, you should talk to a psychotherapist. You're smart enough to know that you're describing classical depression symptoms.


I have. It's not particularly helpful, however, unless they specialize in autism (depression rate among HFA/Asperger's is close to 80%, and the better your social skills/ability to read people, the more likely you are to have it). I'd say this is a normal part of the condition, not necessarily something that can be fixed.

But that's OK, I'm not convinced networking is a necessary condition of a successful legal career.


Really? That's nice to know.

You can't fake affect (can you?), it seems innate.


Yes, you can. Affect is a mental state you can induce consciously, if you learn how, not just a behavior.

Question: What's a good way to fake connections with people? Good videos or books? (I'm familiar with Dale Carnegie).

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3|ink
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby 3|ink » Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:44 pm

bjsesq wrote:
3|ink wrote:If any of my classmates read this, they'll probably think you are me. Except I haven't done OCI cause I already have a jerb.


Thanks for sharing your win, I guess.

Win? I can't do OCI because I already have a full time job.

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laxbrah420
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby laxbrah420 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:37 pm

Depression is fixed with therapy and drugs bro hammer. Shit causes real physical changes toda brain and the longer you don't treat it (with drugs) the worse and more unlikely to be reversed it gets. Go get yourself some celexa son. The fact that 80% of HFAs have it means zero regarding its fixability.

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MauriceGains
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby MauriceGains » Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:56 pm

NotMyRealName09 wrote:Networking is for assholes.
If I had to express my thoughts on my law school experience in one sentence, this would be it. Lol

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Perseus_I
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby Perseus_I » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:59 pm

Ok, what if the problem is I acted weird during 1L due to my condition, as well as being on antidepressants, and didn't make many friends for that reason? (except for 1 or 2 --- sort of). What if one fixes these problems as a 2L and actually develops passably normal social skills, posture, and affect after extensive coaching by an acting and voice coach?

But then suddenly, I'm in no one's social circle, even if I maybe would be if I started 1L again with my current level of social functioning. So what should I do?

I feel awkward going to school events and bar reviews by myself (maybe a good thing of developing social awareness), so I don't really have the opportunity to meet anyone outside of classes. It's harder in that setting, I think, so yeah, maybe my social skills still aren't good, but I think it's more a function of social anxiety and avoidant behaviors than it is due to weird or off-putting behaviors. My acting coach as well as several acquaintances were brutally honest but said that most of my weird social behaviors are gone, including the flat affect.

So tips/advice? How do I test out to see if my social skills are good enough to succeed in the legal profession now, even if they weren't during OCI?

I wish I had known all this stuff about improving social skills through acting, mega doses of Vitamin D, and (legal) nootropic drugs from Russia BEFORE 1L.

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evilxs
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Re: Dropping out due to HFA and isolation in law school

Postby evilxs » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:22 pm

You seem to value fitting in and what others think.

Be who you are and just be awesome and folks will come to you. A club, competition team, or something else is a good way to get into a group where you might find more luck.

I am aspie, had very few friends in law school, am in tax (you bastards haha), and took the bar exam today (fuck me).

Accept who you are :) I luvs myself.

Most of the folks in law school really were not worth getting to know. And then there are some pretty amazing people. Gotta strike a balance.




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