On Leaving Law School

by ursavoice

By Selwyn Chu

J.D. Candidate 2012, UCI Law


    If a certain well-known nursery rhyme is to be believed, life is but a dream. A spectrum of experience collapsed into a mindless collage of sights, sounds, and imagery, as if Picasso had taken a brush to the entire canvas of our existence. It bores us clean through, hollows us out, fills the void with feral memories for time to tame. And who but God or Tim Tebow can speak with authority to their import? To our own? As Joyce Carol Oates once wrote, we live what is random.

    As commencement approaches, I find myself succumbing to that age-old cliché of a question: How did I get here? I have answered it the same way for the better part of 27 years: with bewilderment, followed by deep thought, finally arriving at the profound conclusion that shit just happens. Introspection can be a double-edged sword: wielded by the artist, the thinker, the do-gooder; but also by the narcissist, the coward, the crazy person. I try not to limit myself. What I have found though is that in moments of uncertainty it is easier to be reflective when the alternative is to be terrified.

    Each time something known to us nears its end, there is that moment when time turns finite again, restored to the universe after what felt like a long sabbatical. For me that moment has passed, though when it came and when it left I cannot say. When I was in Nicaragua, my best friend in the Peace Corps took it upon himself to force the issue: about halfway through our two-year service he started counting down the days as a running joke. I have so far resisted the impulse to do that with what remains of law school, but I have become increasingly aware of just how little of it remains. Meanwhile, the last two and a half years have started to run together. Probably because I spent so much of it in the library. At the same table. In the same seat. As it is, trying to recall certain memories is a little like trying to parcel out words and images from a spinning reel of microfilm. A class here, a conversation there, and lots of hazy somethings in between.

    I have no job. Yet, I do not know where I will be come September. I know it will be somewhere in California because I paid the state bar $600 in registration and moral application fees and that money is nonrefundable. Also because it is sunny. I think about this on occasion now as I go about my days and weeks. But even if I had a job, I don’t know that I wouldn’t have the same doubts, the same fears, about life after law school. After all, we live what is random. The things that are fixed we already know, we have already lived. The future looms. And so in those dim corners and still moments, on that lonely precipice between what is and what will be, we find the courage amid the chaos to say, simply,

“Now what?”