1L Diaries: From journalist to law student in one week flat

May 29, 2009

It was a mere two weeks ago that I got accepted into law school. In the time since, I have had my first visit to Lawrence, been given a crash course in Lawyering and written more than a dozen briefs. It’s been a whirlwind — a Kansas tornado, if you will!

Officially, I was wait-listed — hence the news of my acceptance a mere week before orientation. It was welcome news for a multitude of reasons, the least of which being that I had been unemployed for the past four months.

I was a secondhand victim of the recession. I quit my job as the online editor for a newspaper in Texas and moved to Kansas City in January 2009. But no one was hiring. In fact, the Kansas City Star laid off more than 100 employees during my first month in the metro.

I love the news business, always have. I have been writing news stories as far back as I can remember and love being part of a business whose job is to record “modern history” for those who will follow. When I started my career as a professional journalist (after getting my bachelor’s from the University of North Texas), I toiled hard to quickly work my way up through the ranks.

At my final newspaper, I dined with generals who led the troops in Iraq and covered the democrat’s campaign as they tried to get the soldier vote. But more than that, I fought for the rights of online readers. I know it sounds dramatic, but the Internet is a scary thing for many journalists and most publishers. It comes with unknowns that scare the pants off of lawyer-fearing publishers, but subscription-paying readers want more and more.

In an effort to aid the ailing industry I so adore, I decided to apply to law school. The process to get in was pretty tough – at least for me. I was scheduled to take the LSAT in December 2008. I lived in the middle of nowhere and didn’t have access to any LSAT study classes. My preparation came from nights spent with an endless pot of coffee at IHOP after working 12-hour days.

To take the exam, I had to drive an hour and a half to the nearest law school. It was a crazy morning that included dealing with a foster dog with kennel cough into the late hours of the night and finding a place to (literally) stash her while I took the test. I made it to the testing room with 20 seconds to spare.

The nightmare of the test doesn’t need to be expressed, right? But let me tell you, the first section I was given was the dreaded logic test. I answered eight of them. I got a second logic section a couple of sections later that I zipped through. I figured the first, horrible section was just the experimental section but later found out it wasn’t. I guess they are going to decide the second section was too easy. Experiment failed.

Anyway, I was pleased with my score. And it was a good thing, because I never want to take that exam again.

Enter personal life: a move to plan and a house to handle. By mid-January, I had quit my job, completely renovated my house, prepped it to rent, packed up my five animals and moved 700 miles to Kansas City.

The next six weeks included hunting (fruitlessly) for a job and getting my applications for law school prepared. In the end, I turned them all in just within the deadlines – and this made the wait for my answers that much worse.

As it turns out, being on the wait list is worse than the initial application process. It involves more recommendations, more essays and, in the case of one school, an interview with the Admissions Committee.

But in the end, I barely remember the stress and emotional yo-yo that was my life. What does it matter? I’m opening my life to a second career. I’m now a law student at the University of Kansas. I have joined about 45 22-year-olds who got their undergraduate degrees last week. But I’ve survived my first week and couldn’t be happier about the path life has given me.

Natalie Hull