a Setback into a Comeback
"Wow, what are
going to do?" came the simultaneous reply from three recent law school
I had just broken the news to my friends about my law school dismissal.
I was speaking so softly that they had to lean in closely to hear my reply.
(My voice was hoarse from my two days of sobbing uncontrollably.)
"Im going to get my Associates degree in Paralegal Studies
at a local community college."
Silence permeated the air. The idea of attending a community college was
beyond their comprehension.
"Get your MBA." Someone chimed in. The rest of the group nodded
in agreement. (I had thought about pursuing an MBA, but I had nixed the
idea because of the expense and the fact that I wanted to stay in the
legal field. If that meant attending a paralegal program, then so be it.)
" What went wrong?" Someone else asked.
Hmm. There were a lot of possible answers to that question. The first
answer that popped into my mind was my mothers unexpected illness
right before school started and dealing with a spirited younger sister.
Perhaps, it was working 2 jobs to keep a roof over our heads. Those issues
were only a fraction of what the real trouble turned out to be. I wasnt
taking care of my physical, mental or spiritual health. I was emaciated
and constantly on the edge of nervous exhaustion. I had also given up
a love of classical music and essay writing, because I mistakenly assumed
that there was no longer room in my life for those cherished activities.
I didnt want to bog the group down with stream of consciousness
thoughts and musings about my life. Especially, on a warm June Minnesota
night. (Warm nights in Minnesota are more of the exception and not the
A couple of months later, I was sitting in my first paralegal class trying
to hold the tears back. I was also working as a receptionist in a small
law firm. I have to admit that it was a humbling experience to go from
law school to answering phone and pouring coffee. I lost touch with people
who I thought were friends, but no longer had time for me because our
lives were going "in different directions".
Translation: I had fallen a few rungs below them on the success ladder.
In this country (the USA), we put a high premium on the appearance of
Eventually, I got over my dismissed law student stigma and I started to
look for ways to reach out to others who were in a similar situation.
I created DismissedLawStudent.com, exactly 10 months after I received
my academic dismissal letter. There is a blog on the website, in which
I discuss my feelings and adventures as a dismissed law student. I am
in the process of writing a guide for other dismissed law students, who
are reapplying to law school.
I am reapplying to law school for the 2003-2004 school year. However,
this time around I wont look to law school to shape my identity
or fulfill my well-being. I will stride through the doors with a sense
of self-knowledge that I had previously lacked.
© "Alaina Alexander" email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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