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I’m officially an attorney!

Hi readers!

Before I share my news, I’m so happy to report that I crossed the 130 follower threshold and I’m currently at 132 followers! I can’t believe it. When I started this blog, I was quite scared. I still find blogging very intimidating. But there are so many bloggers who I admire, and I’m inspired by their bravery to write and publish their thoughts to the world. Although I enjoy writing very much, I have a lot of insecurities. Sometimes I don’t update the blog because I feel embarrassed or unworthy to share my thoughts. This is something I’m working on, so bear with me!

I was going to blog about my news yesterday, but when I received the email from Mercy For Animals regarding the dairy farm abuse, I decided to share the video instead. The video of the abuse definitely put a damper on my day, but it also reminded me why I was motivated to start this blog in the first place, and what I want to use my education for.

Today I feel comfortable in announcing that I am now an attorney in the state of New York! Yesterday was my swearing in ceremony. I’m so excited!

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Me, right after the ceremony. πŸ™‚

Most of the readers of my blog have no idea of the process that I went through to get to this point. A lot of my friends don’t even know. Many people already thought I was an attorney because I graduated law school in 2012. It took a long time to get here, and it was never easy.Β  I took the LSAT (the test you take for law school admissions) twice. Law school itself was difficult, frustrating, upsetting, but also exciting and satisfying in many ways. At times it was even fun! I had some great professors and made some lifelong friends.

And then after law school was the bar exam. I took it immediately after graduating, in July. That turned out to be a huge mistake. I took a bar exam study program, and my bank account took a nosedive into the negative. Without a close, amazing friend covering my rent during that time, I don’t know what I would have done. When I found out that I failed the exam, which wasn’t until November, it was not a shock. I still cried, but it was not a shock. By then, I was working in television and preparing myself mentally to have to take the exam again. I had worked as a transcriber in my pre-law school days, and was using transcribing to pay my bills and to get back on my feet.

Me when I graduated law school. :)

Me when I graduated law school. πŸ™‚

Even though I decided to take the bar exam again in February, I wasn’t so confident about my future. Even if I passed, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Failing the first time and having money problems damaged my self-esteem for a long time and the healing took a long time. I wanted to pass the exam to prove that I could do it and to get closure on the whole process. I kept my jobs while I studied, and a few weeks before I took the exam, I started dog walking. I was so frustrated and upset about the hard work that went into getting my degree, only to fail and to be left with a horrifying amount of debt. At the time, I wanted to get away from the legal field as far as possible. Dog walking was like therapy to me. I was with happy, sweet animals who adored me regardless of my failures in life. I also gained physical strength from all the walking I was doing (and holding leashes of four dogs at a time!) and bought a bicycle. I started running occasionally. It was amazing: I actually felt really good about myself!

Oh yeah — I had also officially went vegan in January 2013, so to have energy and feel great in my early days of veganism was incredible.

So when I took the February bar exam, I felt different than the first time I took it. The first time, I had a slight panic attack during the exam. I couldn’t handle the crowds. It was hard to breathe and I just wanted out.

But not the second time. The testing location was different, and I only saw a handful of familiar faces. There were large windows in the room. I had a better seat during the test. I brought an actual lunch. I finished the exam early, actually. When I left, I wasn’t sure if I passed. But I also wasn’t confident that I failed.

Months went by. And then the results: I passed. I screamed when I saw the email and immediately called my mother, crying and screaming into the phone. She called me back, crying and screaming into the phone. I was so happy to make her proud! You see, right before I went to law school, my mother had been diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. By the time I finished law school, she had completed chemo and radiation and was in good health. So for her to beat the cancer and to be there when I achieved my goal was amazing to me.

I finally felt truly excited about the thought of being a practicing attorney. Suddenly, my future didn’t seem so bleak.

The next hurdle involved the application process and the character and fitness interview. Those are both really long stories… Let’s just say it took many more months, more financial hardship, and a terrible interview. But I made it!

So many factors go into whether you succeed or fail in law school and the bar exam. It’s not a coincidence that the people who did very well in school and on the exam were mostly the people who didn’t have to worry about money, or family problems, or working. So for anyone who is considering law school, is currently in law school, or taking the bar exam, or waiting for bar exam results — do not let any of that process affect your self-worth! Yes, you may stumble or fail. But you have to — and will — get back up!

Anyway, thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you, readers. I really appreciate the support!

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About The Paw Report

I graduated from St. John's University School of Law in 2012, and am admitted to practice law in New York State. I was a member of the New York City Bar Association's Animal Law Committee for three years. I was born and raised in Rhode Island, but moved to New Mexico when I was 18. After dabbling in film for two years, I graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in Anthropology. I've been living in New York City since 2008, and currently reside in Brooklyn with my boyfriend and our two cats. I am a former organizer with Direct Action Everywhere - New York City.

Discussion

14 thoughts on “I’m officially an attorney!

  1. That’s great news, Rachel! Congratulations!!!!! πŸ™‚

    Like

    Posted by marina kanavaki | September 18, 2014, 12:54 pm
  2. Yey for You!!! Congratulations, Rachel. You’ll continue to be such an important change maker for all animals.

    Like

    Posted by beth | September 18, 2014, 3:14 pm
  3. G’day Rachel,
    How very exciting for you, I’m so pleased, I stumbled onto your blog, An animal devotee myself I undrstand the need to protect our four footed, fur covered, feathered or water dwellers.

    Like

    Posted by Muzzy | September 18, 2014, 6:10 pm
  4. Hi Rae,
    Thank you for sharing your life story with us, for being vegan and for taking a chance with blogging. You have much to contribute to nonhuman animal liberation. Heartiest congratulations on becoming a lawyer.
    Many thanks,
    Anne

    Like

    Posted by Anne Elizabeth McGuigan | September 20, 2014, 6:18 am
  5. First, congratulations!!!! Second, I just wanted to say how much I admire your blog. I am a teen animal rights activist, and your work really inspires me and gives me something to aspire to. When I am older, I hope to continue blogging, but also be on the rescue team at the HSUS and also a campus rep for PETA2 at my chosen college. Your blog has been a key part of my career development and I appreciate everything you do for animals.

    Like

    Posted by myveganvalentine | September 20, 2014, 12:37 pm
    • Wow, I absolutely adore this comment! You have no idea how happy you have made me!

      I wish that I had had your drive when I was younger. I knew about PETA and was a vegetarian in high school, but I didn’t quite make the connection between food and animal cruelty.

      Reading this comment and checking out your blog has me convinced that your passion and dedication will bring you much success and many achievements. πŸ™‚

      If you are interested, I’d love to offer you a guest blogging opportunity for my page. I really want to bring other people’s voices to the site and I think yours would be great. NO pressure to accept, of course, since you must be busy with school and your own blogging. But if you ever want to write a short essay on a topic of your choosing, please let me know! πŸ™‚

      Thanks,
      Rachel

      Like

      Posted by The Paw Report | September 20, 2014, 4:37 pm
  6. You are AWESOME, always remember that!!!!!

    Like

    Posted by Nadia | September 20, 2014, 1:59 pm
  7. Big congrats to you! I’m considering to go to law school because it’s what everyone suggests (due to my demeanor). I wanted to pursue journalism and I know a lot of journalists who have law degrees.

    Question: Do people attend law school without becoming lawyers? I don’t want to be a lawyer per se, but just have the knowledge and education that goes a long with it…I know it sounds crazy! I mostly want to become a journalist.

    Take care,
    Renee

    Like

    Posted by Renee Lynn | October 16, 2014, 12:00 pm
    • Hey Renee!

      I can totally relate to your comment. I didn’t really consider law school either until many people told me that I should pursue it. It started to appeal to me, and because I didn’t really have any plans post-graduation, I decided to go for it.

      I definitely think people attend law school even though they might not want to actually practice law. Most of the people I know in law school have gone on to be attorneys, but others went back to what they were doing before law school, or went to get another degree in library science so they can work at a legal library. I am not practice right now, and I haven’t worked in law since I graduated. I do some volunteering, like on the committee, but that’s about it. I have gotten my share of rude comments though, especially from people in my family, who can’t believe I went to law school and yet I’m not working at a firm or something. But I never really saw myself doing that in the first place…

      So I definitely don’t think my education was a waste. Law school will give you many practical skills and you’ll leave as a better writer and critical thinker. I definitely felt smarter when I left law school, and it’s comforting to know that the degree gives my resume a boost!

      The only thing drawback is the cost. I have a lot of debt, like a LOT. I happened to go into law school at a terrible moment because by the time I graduated, there were not many jobs. However, from what I’ve read online, I believe that now the legal job sector is improving, and there is even less competition because not as many people have been applying to law schools. Anyway, what I’m saying is, I hope you’re able to get scholarships and financial aid, and maybe pick a great school that’s more cost-friendly so you’re not burdened by debt. Although I had a great time at St. John’s, it was a private institution and incredibly expensive. I would have gotten a great education had I chose a public school like CUNY.

      I’m sorry for my delayed response, but I hope I helped! Also, I hope i made sense πŸ™‚ Any other comments or questions just let me know!

      Like

      Posted by The Paw Report | October 29, 2014, 1:50 pm
      • Wow, thanks for that very elaborate response! This gave me a bit of reassurance that attending law school will give me extensive knowledge regardless of whether I practice law or not. I’m thinking of attending a T2 school, unless I get a scholarship to attend Georgetown (it’s what I’m after).

        A law background will definitely give you a boost in both the professional world and in the real world, as well – I totally agree that it can leave you as a better thinker and writer. I really love writing and immersing myself in books, so it wouldn’t hurt to do more of that if I were to pursue law school.

        The only downside of law school is that it’s becoming more of a financial investment than professional. I also did some research that law school is becoming easier to get into because fewer people are enrolling. Despite some of the statistics that law graduates can’t find a job, a law degree can serve as an intrinsic reward that no one can take away. It will be a great tool to fall back on in the worst case scenario.

        Thank you so much and good luck with future endeavors!

        Best,
        Renee

        Like

        Posted by Renee Lynn | October 29, 2014, 4:50 pm

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