There have been a few panic moments during my 8 year stint as a father, and there was no shortage of those moments as I struggled through law school. I went through law school at exactly the wrong time. If I had gone to law school one year earlier, or two years later, things would probably be very different for me right now. I probably wouldn’t be living in Indiana and I’d probably have a much more demanding job than I do now.
Basically, for family purposes, I went to law school at the perfect time. But for economic reasons I went to law school at the wrong time.
The economy tanked during my second year in law school. For those of you unfamiliar with law school, law firms hire second year law students for law clerk positions. The hiring process begins in the first semester and it’s mostly completed before the semester ends. Those law clerk positions almost always end up being converted to attorney positions when the student graduates. If a student can’t find a law clerk position during his/her second year of law school, the chances of landing a quick job as an attorney after graduating are small.
With the economy tanking right as firms were hiring, only a handful of students from my class of 200 were able to get jobs as law clerks. The rest of us were left wondering if we would be able to survive once law school was over. Lawyers at big law firms were being paid not to come to work. The market was over-saturated and the demand for lawyers was shrinking. It all made for a terrible combination for students scrambling to find jobs that could support them through their careers, and my situation was no exception.
One late night, when I was studying for finals during my third and final year of law school, I still hadn’t been offered a position as an attorney at a law firm. The stress of knowing I would be coming out of law school with lots of student loan payments to be made and a family to support was overwhelming at times. I can distinctly remember sitting in a movie theater and being sure that the floor beneath me was collapsing and there was nothing I could do to save myself.
The stress was intense.
Anyway, I was driving home after studying and it was about midnight. As I drove under an underpass, I noticed a man who was about my age pushing a shopping cart filled with his possessions. Walking next to him was a woman who was about his age as well and she was pushing a stroller with a young girl who looked to be the same age as Addie. The clothes this family wore looked like clothes that normal everyday living in a house people would wear. The only difference was that their’s were noticeably dirty.
The family was homeless. I’ve seen homeless people before and I’ve tried to give them help when I am able, but this family was a family just like my family. Who knows? Maybe this guy had just completed graduate school and wasn’t able to find a job just like I couldn’t find a job. Maybe he had to go home one day to his wife and tell her that he had failed, that he couldn’t find a job and he could no longer put a roof over their heads. If it happened that way, it had to have been a miserable moment for him.
Seeing a family, that was so similar to my family, scared me and caused me to seriously doubt that I was capable of supporting us and I begin to believe that I had led them down a path that would eventually end in failure with my small family walking down a sidewalk pushing our remaining possessions in a shopping cart.
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