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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Law Is Hell

My wife is a lawyer.

I can’t say I saw that coming, back when I was a kid. Or a teenager. Or dating her in college. And yet, here we are.

More specifically, if you traveled back in time to visit, say, twenty-year-old me and told me I’d wind up marrying a girl who sets the alarm on her BlackBerry for 4am every morning to get up and practice law, I’d say you were up-to-the-ears full of it, and ask what the hell was going to happen to my sweetheart girlfriend along the way.

(Well, first, I’d ask if my wife was hot. Obviously. And then I’d try to get some future Super Bowl scores and stock tips out of you. And I’d probably ask what the hell a ‘BlackBerry’ is.

But then I’d tell you you were full of it.)

“I’d venture to say that there’s no conceivable connotation of ‘great’ that can be applied to the law school experience, with the possible exception that it’s followed immediately with ‘big balls of suck’.”

If you forged ahead to twenty-five-year-old me, I’d ask the same thing. Only I’d say ‘fiancee’ instead of girlfriend. Thirty-year-old me would say ‘wife’. And would probably know about the BlackBerry.

Of course, what happened to my sweetheart increasingly-significant other, soon after that last jaunt to the past, was law school.

(She’s still a sweetheart. But law school did happen. I’m just reporting the facts here.)

She’s been practicing law for close to a ten years now. Though I suppose some of that was ‘pre-law’, before and during school. Or ‘pretend-law’. ‘Sort-of-law’? ‘Jude-law’? I’m not really up on my legal terminology, I’m afraid.

The point is, she made a career move to join a law firm a few years ago, which was great. She seemed very happy and interested and learned all sorts of new things. Then, they said they’d send her to law school, which was also great. She could further her education, and we wouldn’t have to take the brunt of the financial hit, thanks to her continuing work with the firm. Then, she actually started attending law school, in the evenings.

That was not ‘great’. I’d venture to say that there’s no conceivable connotation of ‘great’ that can be applied to the law school experience, with the possible exception that it’s followed immediately with ‘big balls of suck’.

Law school is, evidently, an ordeal meant not only to sift the wheat from the chaff, but to then pound the wheat into a quivering thin paste. And run it through a horse. Repeatedly. It is also, to my understanding, merely the second-worst part of becoming a lawyer.

The first is the bar exam.

Part of that seems to be the cruel timing that most aspirants experience when taking the bar. The final semester of law school lets out in the spring — three or four (or more, possibly) years of grinding and sweat and struggle, finally over; the light at the end of the tunnel shining gloriously on exhausted faces. Hallelujah.

The bar exam is in, like, July. And it’s only the official validation of all that work, wrapped into one weekend of intense grilling about all aspects of the legal system, whether you actually were taught — or managed to learn — those details or not.

(Personally, I have a hard time imagining it. I’ve been done with school for years, and have no desire to go back, for any reason. The only ‘weekend of intense grilling’ I want to think about comes with cold beer and a side of potato salad.)

Now, I didn’t go through law school myself, obviously. And I didn’t take the bar. And the missus and I have each had our tribulations through the years — with work, with school, and so on — and most of those troubles are largely forgotten. So how do I know that the double-whammy of law school and the bar exam left such a deep and lasting impression on my beloved?

Because when we get together with her lawyery friends, they talk about it. Still. All of her law buds have been out for at least a year; most of them, like her, for several. And yet, its a predictable topic of conversation, at every. Single. Get. Together. It’s as though they’ve survived some horrific trauma — and let’s face it; they have — and talking about the nightmare is the only way to minimize its impact. It’s like they’ve been through a hostage situation together. Or a Godzilla rampage. Or The English Patient.

Being a civilian, I don’t get to contribute much in their conversations about the horrors of law school. They’re the ones with the war stories and scars, so they generally commiserate while I and the rest of the ‘normals’ chat about something else.

But I did get a word in at a recent get-together. I’m not sure how well it was received, but I think it was accurate. My wife and others were huddled together in a corner, reminiscing about the tortures of law training, when someone took social pity on me and asked what I, as a husband, thought about it. I pondered for a moment, and said:

Law school was pretty bad. It was like she had a Buick, and she spent four years painstakingly dismantling and cleaning all the parts. And then eating them.

They considered that for a moment. Some were confused. A few looked hungry.

But the bar exam was worse.

Oh? Why’s that?

That was like watching her take a laxative.

I don’t think I’m allowed to talk to those particular friends of hers any more. But they know I’m right. Hey, sometimes the truth hurts. Twice.

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