Entering Law School

Summer Reading for a New 1L

Entering Law School;
Embrace the Bramble Bush

by Claudia Valenzuela

The Bramble Bush

There was a man in our town
And he was wond’rous wise;
He jumped into a bramble bush
And scratched out both his eyes.
And when he saw his eyes were out,
With all his might and main
He jumped into another bush
And scratched them in again.

– L. Frank Baum

A week ago Tuesday, I received the last acceptance letter of three law school applications

I had submitted a month earlier. Two letters came with scholarship offers; one came with an offer of acceptance and a promise of more details to follow. Each school had their own outreach methods and enrollment materials, enticing me to enroll and sign on the dotted line NOW NOW NOW!!! I had three great options before me, and I was honored to have such a choice to make.

I knew which choice would be right for me and my family.

Yes, my family.

No, not my parents, not my legal guardian, or anyone who could claim me as a dependent on their taxes.

My family: my seven children and my partner in crime, David.

We had just done this dance, this painstakingly long, law school waltz; culminating on May 17th at 7:15 pm when we received David’s California Bar Exam results – PASS. He did it! We did it! The kids did it! The 5-year journey was finally over.

Well, not really…

It was my turn to decide whether I would allow this jealous mistress into my life. I knew her very well.

For five years, she lived in my home, in my bed, in my car, on my dining room table, in my garage. She went on my vacations, our kids’ school events, our sons’ little league games; she was selfish and demanded frequent attention.

This mistress was the law. And I had had enough of her. She took David away from us physically but mostly mentally because he always had her on his mind.

But, as many who have tried to dissuade me from my lifelong commitment to a naive and stoopid 4th-grade girl inside me have learned, I may not be of sound mind. So, I will be inviting this all-consuming lady for the next dance come August.

Having managed to steer my family out the bramble bush once, I have decided to that we will now jump back in.

I am in my “late post-twenties”, in a loving committed relationship with seven kids, a full-time job, several board commitments, a part-time gig teaching cooking classes, a school mom.

And I am a 1L.

Not only does this sound like a recipe for disaster, she, the law, didn’t even have the decency to allow me to celebrate, adjust, or contemplate the facts in my sad case. Along with one of my acceptance letters was an invitation to take a six-week summer enrichment program that is designed to help “ease me into” the role of a 1L. The course started three days ago. Of course, I signed up. Because it makes perfect sense…

So this summer, instead of playing hooky from work to go to my kids’ swim lessons, play at the beach, take a family vacation up the coast, or jet across the pond to Le Bourget for the Paris Air Show, I will be reading The Bramble Bush.

Kids, I love you all. I will miss you terribly. And yes, I will still cook for you.

David, I will try to let go, let you do for me what I did for you. It will be hard for me to let go because – as you know – my way is the best way. And how will you know the best way if I’m not around to tell you?

I must go now because its 11:57pm, I’m three days into this dance, and I’m already two weeks behind. I will need my sleep. If I let her, this selfish, demanding bitch will take that from me, too.


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