Learning to Love the Law

December 2, 2013

K.J., 1L

Law school was not my first choice for graduate education. Like many a Yale applicant, I’d originally planned to earn a PhD and become a professor, until I was dissuaded by my discipline’s spectacularly grim employment statistics. I’d done some legal internships during college, and worked at a law firm for the year after I graduated, but up to the very first day of orientation I was worried I’d made a mistake and would hate studying law.

Luckily, I was wrong. I genuinely love law school, and, more surprisingly, I’m also excited to practice law and work as an attorney. Law school -- particularly at Yale -- is a nerd’s delight, where you spend your days closely reading cases, discussing legal history, and debating the ethics and policy behind judicial decisions. Class time is valuably spent, in part because of the exceptionally high caliber of the student body: I’m amazed at how intelligent student comments can be at 8:20 in the morning. What’s more, our classes benefit from the significant academic experience most Yalies draw on outside of law. My small group, for example, includes a PhD graduate in sociology, a PhD student in philosophy, an MSc in gender studies, and several economics majors.

I’ve also found the study of law to have a pronounced practical edge, which was missing in my humanities major in college. Our professors challenge us to consider the real-world effects of almost everything we study: whether it be how strict requirements for pleadings can keep litigants out of court, or how easy dissolution of contracts can impede the smooth functioning of business. And while 127 Wall Street may be almost the epitome of an ivory tower -- we have an actual moat -- the Law School’s resources and reputation are able to bring the world here to Yale. In the three months since I arrived, I’ve been able to attend talks by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and, of course, Stephen Colbert.

Most of my fellow students have been equally engaged by our studies, and a few who were dead-set on becoming law professors are now seriously considering at least a few years in practice. But the interests of the student body here are very diverse, and everyone is learning to love the law in their own way: I have friends who want to work at big firms after graduation, those who wish to become public defenders, and those who aspire to work in politics. All of us can discover and realize our own goals with the help of the vast resources, alumni connections, and funding available at YLS. Even though I still don’t know for certain what I want to do after Yale, I’m really excited to have another two-and-a-half years here to love the law and find out.