major life updates, part II

Readers who follow me on Instagram already know my big news: I started law school! This isn’t exactly a longtime dream, as I have talked myself out of applying to law school for at least the past five years (and maybe closer to ten). Many of my friends and colleagues regretted their decisions to attend and after the legal downturn in 2008 I was very skeptical of going. I was very unsure about the ROI on three years of lost salary plus potentially six figures in student loan debt.

At some point during my never-ending job search, I started browsing the LawSchoolNumbers website and pieced together that I seemed to have a pretty strong shot at admission at many good law schools if I got a high enough LSAT score. But I didn’t sign up for the LSAT because I finally got an amazing job at Accenture in 2018.

I loved working at Accenture, and records management was a good field to work in, but the operational side of the work was the wrong fit. I spent a long time getting my paperwork in order to qualify for the PMP exam (a longtime goal!) and realized I didn’t want to take the test because I didn’t like project management. For many years I leaned into a career path that fit my skills, but there were other parts of myself that I was not developing. At the end of the day, operational jobs stress me out because I much prefer the delineation and end of distinct projects. I noticed that attorneys had a way of muscling in on the more interesting aspects of the records management field, and eventually realized that many people I like and respect (and whose jobs I think I’d enjoy doing) graduated from Northwestern University, and decided based on their American Bar Association annual reports that the employment and income statistics for the past few years of their graduating classes made it look like a pretty reasonable investment considering my personal situation.

When I met a librarian-turned-lawyer who was working as an external consultant on our records schedule refresh, I began to seriously wonder whether that kind of work might be a better fit for me. I noticed that the work lawyers were doing at Accenture seemed better-suited for me than work on the consulting side of the business. So I signed up to take the LSAT, thinking I would go to school in the fall of 2021. I studied for three months, and got a 177 (not quite Elle Woods, but I’m very sure that I only missed two questions, which on a normal test, would be a 180 – they dropped 1/4 of the questions to offer the test remotely during coronavirus, and usually a perfect score is a -3).

Shortly after I took the test, law schools started announcing that they’d be fully online this fall. So I expected movement off of waitlists at top schools, since rumor has it that 20% of Harvard’s incoming class deferred. I emailed a few schools and confirmed that they were still considering applications, and ended up with some great offers to consider by early July.

I cannot put into words how cool it is that I had the option to go to some of the best schools in the country despite my 2.8 undergraduate GPA. It is incredible that this test has opened so many doors for me. I feel some regret about not applying in the fall to see what is possible with my numbers. There are not many people in the country with scores like this, and even fewer with ridiculous scores and low GPAs like mine. I wish I were leaving more data for the people behind me. But coronavirus has made me the luckiest person alive: I applied to Northwestern in June, was admitted within two weeks, and received a significant scholarship shortly thereafter.

Haters will say it’s because I’m a minority, but I’m very proud that my parents came to this country and made a good life for themselves. Self-identifying as “white European” without noting that I am Latina erases their achievements. I will never stop checking the “Hispanic” box. I’m proud of who I am and where I come from. I think it’s wack that poor white and Asian people likely don’t get the same benefits when their applications are considered, and there are things about affirmative action that I think are condescending, but I can’t do anything about that. I know other “underrepresented minorities” with LSAT scores and GPAs higher than mine who didn’t get into these schools. And I know white people with worse stats who got in. I really believe that I got in because of my score and my work experience and my convincing explanation of the many factors at play with that GPA, and that the scholarship money was 100% because I had a solid track record at Accenture.

(Don’t @ me. Haters, doubters, and people applying to law school who want to see a winning application can email me at anita @ anitalife dot com to see what a dope resume looks like and then tell me with a straight face I got in because I’m a minority.)

It was hard to leave Accenture. It was best job I have ever had, it was everything I wanted, and everyone on my team was great. The Chicago Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA) chapter is the best professional association I’ve ever been part of. I saw lots of opportunities in the field, and on a day-to-day basis I was pretty satisfied at work.

Choosing a law school was even more difficult than leaving Accenture. I had the opportunity to go to Georgetown, Northwestern, or Notre Dame. Georgetown was unfortunately ruled out because the timing was not right for us to make a move back to the east coast. Notre Dame was even more difficult to turn down, and I think I only did because my partner made a spreadsheet of my living and commuting expenses in South Bend and calculated the exact amount of money I’d need at Northwestern for the total cost of attendance at both to be equivalent. When Northwestern upped their scholarship offer to almost precisely that number (I think they came in a little higher to be polite), the choice was made: I couldn’t turn down the better potential job outcomes at Northwestern, which has terrific BigLaw placement.

This was honestly one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I felt sad about changing course because I was so excited to go to Notre Dame, and I feel unbelievably fortunate to have had the opportunity to agonize about these two wonderful choices. It is a beautiful place with a seemingly good culture. I had great impressions from all of my interactions with the school. They were so attentive about even the smallest details. For example, the hold music was a loop of Gregorian chants. The atmosphere encouraged finding the sacred in the mundane and I would have loved to study law in the context of a 2,000 year-old tradition. It hurt my soul to turn away from this path and I will probably go to my grave wondering about this road not taken. It is a magical and special place and I am sure that I would have become a better person by going there.

I wish I could live twice on this earth and spend one of those lifetimes at Notre Dame, but I have the most wonderful partner in the world and we have spent too much time apart already. There is something about Notre Dame that stirs the heart and the soul, but Northwestern is wonderful in different ways. I’ve been fortunate to meet many Northwestern alumni on my journey and they have been generous (perhaps to a fault) with their time and advice. I couldn’t be more pleased with the community I have found here already.

I feel incredibly privileged to be able to leave a stable and fulfilling job during a pandemic to strive for more in my life, and to have three years of learning and discovery ahead. I am especially grateful to my friends Kristen and Alise for always pushing me and to my wonderful partner and family for their support and faith in me.

To all my colleagues and friends at Accenture, I look forward to staying in touch and hopefully crossing paths again professionally in the not-too-distant future. Special thanks go to the Jewish Employee Resource Group for making this such a fun and supportive place to work. I am proud of the work we did together, and I truly regret leaving just as my personal life was settling down enough for me to consider a leadership role. JERG will always have a special place in my heart and I encourage everyone at Accenture to take advantage of the employee resource group infrastructure.

Also, I have an LSAT tutoring business now. Please tell any aspiring law students in your life about elleSAT.

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