I joke with people about my personal life failure rate all the time… People make few BIG life choices. Things like marriage, buying a house, going to graduate school… Well, I did all three of those and failed miserably the first time. This is the story of what happened with law school.
Life before Law School
Law school was never in my life plan. My dad attended some business college after high school, and then laid carpet his entire life before changing careers and working on warranty repairs for some of the residential development companies here in Las Vegas. He’s a super hard-working guy and attended some post-high-school education, but not graduate school. Same for my mom and grandparents, graduate school just wasn’t really a thing.
Becoming a lawyer only became a possibility after getting hired as a Spanish-speaking legal assistant for Tingey Law Firm here in Las Vegas. I only got the job because I spoke Spanish, and I had zero clue about the law.
After working there for a few years, it became apparent that I might actually be good at the whole lawyer thing. So I took the LSAT… twice, maybe three times… And eventually got a good enough score to get some schools to accept me.
I only include all this information to illustrate that I had no idea what I was doing when choosing a law school… nor did I have anyone super close to me to ask about it either. I was forging a new path!
Choosing a Law School
When it came time to choose a law school I applied to probably 10-15 schools and received acceptance letters from four or five of them. I went and toured the ones I liked most and then had to decide on which one I was going to attend. My choice was not really based at all on the quality of education they provided, the price of tuition, or the types of job offers I would get afterward… no no, I picked on location. And sunny San Diego sounded like a great location to me (definitely an oversimplification, but some truth for sure).
So, I chose California Western School of Law. Well… that will definitely come back to bite me.
Life at Law School
I’ve never been a super studious student… I was always more of a C+, B average kind of guy. My mom says that I never really tried in school but always figured out a way to get passing grades. 🤷🏼♂️
Well, law school was a wake-up call. Lots of studying. Lots of reading. Lots of writing. There wasn’t any faking it here. But I was up for the task and put in lots of hours doing all three of those things.
Finals for the first semester were… fun… ya see, before law school started my wife and I had become pregnant with our first daughter who ended up being born on November 24… right in the thick of studying for finals. Excuses excuses, I know. I survived finals with decent grades, as of this writing I can’t remember exactly what they were but I wasn’t toooooo concerned, yet.
The second semester was probably harder than the first, I think that’s when I had the legal writing class which really kicked my butt. Made it through and then the weekend before second-semester finals… Our apartment flooded and we had to relocate to a hotel for a couple of weeks while they fixed it. 😖 I “survived” those finals too.
Because I was anxious to move back to Vegas to get going on my law career, I decided to take summer classes in order to graduate quicker than the typical three-year time frame. So I rolled right into the next semester. Well, about six or so weeks into this third semester, or first semester of my second year… I get the email.
The End of Law School
Unbeknownst to me when I was choosing law schools based on location (kind of)… I didn’t know about this fun thing that law schools do in order to keep up their bar passage rates.
Why would law schools need to keep up their bar passage rates, you ask? Well, their accreditation as a law school depends on having a certain percentage of students pass the bar and become practicing attorneys.
So what could they possibly do to make sure their students pass the bar?
- Provide them with a “great” education? ✅
- Give them lots of study options? ✅
- Provide tutoring? ✅
Oh yeah, and one other thing… Kick out the bottom percentage of the first-year students so that they don’t ever take the bar to begin with? ✅
That’s right. That’s how law school works.
Now typically this isn’t a problem for most law schools. Most law schools only kick out around 3% of the first class. So out of a class of 100 students, only three might go home, and usually, those three are really not great students.
Well… the school I happened to choose cut a very different percentage. 33% of the first-year class got the boot, 10x the number of students get the boot more than in typical law schools.
Remember how I said I was historically a C+, B average student? At the end of the first year, I had a cumulative 78.4% average grade… Per the email I received, this was NOT enough to be accepted for a second year. In an instant, law school was over.
I pleaded with the school to let me stay and asked how I could possibly make up the difference of a percentage point or two. The only option I had was to get one of my professors to admit that they had graded my finals incorrectly… and another fun fact about law school is that the professors aren’t typically the type that would ever make a mistake, let alone admit it. So that fix didn’t happen.
Life after Law School
So it’s May, and I just got kicked out of law school. I had insane debt from the tuition for 1.5 years of law school. I still had 3 months remaining on my one-year apartment lease… and a newborn. Fun.
We ended our lease early and moved back to Las Vegas where I knew I could get a job and be around family to help with the newborn.
Some people ask… Why didn’t I just transfer to another law school that didn’t cut 33% of the first-year class? Because I would have had to start over no matter where I went. The year was gone, no longer counted. They sure kept my money, though. 😖
So that’s it, that’s the story of why I only went to one year of law school. Maybe I’ll tell the story of my failed first marriage or the house I should have never bought next… 🤦🏼♂️