Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I came, I saw, I failed. Happy New Year.

In light of an article I just read regarding failure, I'd like you all to know something.

The article says that you should just accept your failures. Flat out. Accept them because there is nothing you can really do about them anyway. Accept them and learn from them for the next challenging event. The author, a life coach, asserts that the primary difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people fail more. Huh. Hadn't thought of it that way. (Also brings to mind evaluating the meaning of 'sucess' but of course being too detail-oriented will prevent me from making any point at all so we'll move on.) On a side note though, I have always thought you should try for things that you want. The way I see it, you might fail, but you for damn sure aren't going to get something you don't try for.

One of my favorite "failers" is Abe Lincoln. What a major failer. Click here for a list of his failures. But of course, we don't remember him for this. It's something like a war or freedom or something that he is known for ;)

Okay, so we've established failure is okay, worth accepting and maybe even good. So, what's mine? Well, I failed out of law school. I FAILED OUT OF LAW SCHOOL.

Failed, failed, failed .... bad grades, dismissed, crying, why me!, ... that kind of failed.


Yup. Never made it past the first year. I accept.

It's been some time since this happened ... 2004 if you're wondering. I think I've accepted bits of it since that time. And I may even have accepted all of it since it seems I'm comfortable putting it out there. Now that I'm over it, mostly, the one thing I beat myself up over still is that I didn't get over it sooner! Ha. Maybe I should accept that failure too.

Now, here's another failure. I've been fired. TWICE!!

So that's why she's a stay at home blogger! Actually at the moment, I'm not - so Ha! My bank account is actually quite fat right now because of the work that I've been doing and I like it that way!!

So, there, I've failed. And I'm still standing. And, though I'm not sure I agree with "that which does not kill you makes you stronger" or "things happen for a reason" (because they don't), if you want to overcome failure you can. But you have to choose to do so.

So, suck it up, deal and move on, that's what I say. Happy New Year :)


Anonymous said...

I just recent failed out of law school also. Any suggestions for dealing with it?

D4 said...

Oh dear. First of all, I'm sorry for any pain the experience has caused you. I was dismissed without any notification. Not even an email. I was on a legal an internship in Europe and and when I called to check my status I was told over the phone not to come back.
Second of all, there is life after law school. I don't know how devastated you were but I was VERY depressed, for months. I had so much debt and couldn't believe that my dreams were dashed. I also couldn't get over what it would be like to try and return to law school (I thought of even suing my school - don't read the cases of students who tried - they all lose and it's depressing).
There are many things I would recommend and if you're comfortable, you can email me at

I learned a lot from this experience but one thing that helped me to move on was to realize the only people that know I failed out of law school were the ones that I told. Maybe this is obvious, but I felt like I had a big red F or D (or both) on my forehead that screamed "LOOOOSSSEEEERRRR GOODFURNUTHN"

Not true. The fact is, I now have a career in marketing and I think this is in part because I know that perception is important and hugely formed by how you package things. If you tell people that you only went for the education, or that you spoke with many lawyers who told you not to become one and subsequently decided to leave - how is anyone to know that this isn't true?

If you find one of your challenges is explaining the situation to people, then you do yourself a huge favor by devising a quick phrase (and I mean short, remember, He Who Doth Protest Too Much...) to explain the situation.

I hope this helps. Remember not to judge yourself. What I've found is that people who fail out of law school are an ambitious bunch - many are creative and were suffocated by the nature of law. Others, like myself, had an unfortunate personal event (my house burned down), that challenged them so much they couldn't give all of themselves. And, the other sad thing I learned is that some law schools, mine, fail out a certain percentage of their class every year. How can you succeed in an environment that handpicks failures as a practice?

Finally, sometimes it's best not to ask why but to accept and focus on what you are going to do for yourself that makes you feel good about who you are.

Best of luck to you. I'm hear for any further questions or thoughts.

. said...

oi ... pardon the spelling error...

Anonymous said...

I haven't been academically dismissed (yet), but after my first semester of law school, I didn't do so great (1.7), and after your 2nd semester you need to be above a 2.0. I am paying for law school on my own, and with student loans, I have ran myself in the hole 23K+ (not including interest), and I have about 37K from undergrad. Financially I don't think it makes sense for me to go another semester, especially at a tier 4 school, b/c when I get out I don't think I will have many job prospects. This is what I think, but if someone has anything more optomistic to say, please share your experience. I think it would be best for me to call it a day on the law school dream early before i get another 23K in debt. If you agree or disagree let me know. Also, if I bag it up, is a paralegal job that bad?

Anonymous said...

A paralegal job is HORRENDOUS. You go in, you have no idea what time you can leave any given day (getting out at 5 is a privelege), and the work is EXTREMELY monotonous. Trust me - I was a paralegal at the 2nd biggest firm in NYC (just below Skadden). It was a total nightmare and I quit before applying to law school. If you have already had ANY sort of indication that law may not be your field, do NOT be a paralegal - you will only feel more stuck than ever. I guarantee it.

P.S. - If you work in a bigger firm, there is no chance you will even have a window - this becomes very depressing. My girlfriend asked me recently if I thought the weather was the same this fall as it was last fall, and I realized, 'Holy shit! I have no idea!'

Queen Been said...

I found it very refreshing to read this article because I too failed out of law school. I was devastated, all my undergrad was spent preparing for it. I was upset for over a year but I made myself move forward somehow. I am still lost but at least I'm on some form of a track rather than no track at all! That would be even more depressing. In hindsight it was a blessing because I finally realized what I truly enjoyed doing and now I am going for it. I want a career as a writer. I have just finished my first book and am going to start getting it ready to send to publishers! I am also thinking about grad school. I think there should be a union of people who failed out of law school and have picked themselves up and are moving on.

Never give up! said...

Thanks for this blog; you are blessing so many others and me by just putting it out there! And yes, there is life after failing! I know because I failed out of law school. I don't doubt that I have the mental capacity to succeed but I also know that it required an immense amount of hard work, determination and work/ life balance. I dedicated my life to school and still failed out because I did not have a good foundation or support system. I have learned from my mistakes and I’m a much much better person because of the experience!
I am currently working on my masters degree so that I can move above this glass ceiling that is over my head (After two years in law school, I still only have an undergrad degree). I’m also working a full time job that gives tuition reimbursement. I’m financially in a much better place because I’m paying off my car and the credit card debt I accrued while in law school. All of my loans are on deferment (I’m not even thinking of paying them back right now). After my grad program ends, I plan to work for the federal government so I can qualify for a loan forgiveness program.
This experience helped me realize that I can live a very simple life and still be extremely happy. I have a fully furnished comfortable apartment, lots of money in savings (for the first time ever), an awesome church family, a full time job, great friends and finally a work/life/school balance! I do plan to return to law school someday as a weekend or evening student because I want my JD. I’m all about breaking those glass ceilings! Things are not perfect but they are surely better than when I was a struggling, unhappy and unfulfilled law student! Next time I’m doing it my way!

Zainah said...

So I'm totally about to fail out of law school. I'm in the process of petitioning, so I might get another semester, but nothing scares me more than failing out.
I feel like its going to haunt me for a long ass time.
What I'm wondering is how likely is it that I would be accepted to another law school after failing out and working for a couple of years? Not a fan of giving up something I really really love. I do not doubt that I'm capable of making it through law school, i've just been insanely unlucky thus far.

Decade Four said...

Zainah - I imagine going through this petitioning process is pretty uncomfortable and, if you're anything like me, it is probably quite maddening as well. In trying times, I think it can be soothing to remember your blessings (but personally speaking, I know this is easier said than done).

I don't have the answer to your question about the likelihood that you will be accepted to another law school. I don't know the success rate of others who have tried. I

I would welcome comments from those who have failed out and then managed to get accepted to another program and graduate.

Zainah, the only thing I can say is that no one can tell you what you want. Only you know what your heart is telling you. If you want to go back to law school, start doing your research - I might try and find people who have been in your position, maybe meet with admissions counselors at your own school or the schools you are interested in attending to get their feedback and guidance. Ask for them to be very honest with you.

I do think you are facing an uphill battle and you have to be prepared for that. How did you do on your LSAT? Could you do better? Maybe you need a tutor to help you achieve consistently higher scores?

Also, you might need to consider going to a lower tier school the second time around - again, take my input with a grain of salt - if this is your dream, make a clear assessment of what you are going to have to invest in order to get back into law school.

Once you have that, decide whether the opportunity cost is worth it. Also, once you have figured out what you are going to have to do to get back to law school, here is an exercise to try.

I like to make three scenarios - worst case, best case and most likely. Ask yourself, can you live with the outcome of each of those? "Worst" might be a large investment of time, some money and ultimately not being accepted to law school.

If the answer to whether you can live with each of these scenarios is "yes" then I would say go for it. Good luck and keep us posted.

returned and conquered said...

Hi everyone,

I too failed out of law school. But, I went back, and I just finished my first set of exams in my second year.

I too was utterly devastated and I couldn't even believe that I was failing out of law school. My school has a policy where they automatically fail a portion of the first year class because they want to up their bar passage rate to up their rankings. savage. i had no idea about this policy going in.

So, yeah, it was ridiculously hard to even have faith in myself after i failed. but going back wasn't even a question because i was going to be a lawyer and nothing was going to stop me. my school allows you to start again two years after your initial start date. so there was a gap year in between where i worked and volunteered for the local legal aid. i figured i could learn something, make contacts, and build up my resume in the meanwhile so that when i went back to school, i would have an ultra competitive resume.

and you know what, that year was awkward, painful, depressing, and i was so so so scared that when i went back i would mess it all up again. but i did make good contacts that i still talk to today and i pumped myself up to hit the ground running when i got back.

and i didn't fail when i went back. i actually did well. and i'm still here. so, it can be done. you just have to LEARN from your mistakes, and don't repeat the same mistakes that made you fail! don't be afraid of your mistakes. there's a reason you were admitted to law school in the first place, and that's because you are capable of passing, even excelling at legal studies. talk to professors about your experience, and above all, study study study.

for anyone out there who wants to go back to law school after failing, it can be done!

Anonymous said...

I failed out of law school also. I returned this semester knowing what was on the brink. Now I'm left with over $600.00 worth of books, extra weight gain, constant phases of depression, and deep sadness. How do you tell a Type-A student, not used to failure, that he/she just isn't good enough? There is no option B or C. There is only option A but what happens when forces that be see otherwise?

Anonymous said...

Returned and conquered (or anyone else for that matter), I was curious if you could share what you did different in light of the circumstances between then and now?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I also failed out. In the process of heading over seas to teach for a year. I may return to law school...maybe not. But it is good to know that many others have had the same experience I had.