How I chose a law school

BY REBECCA AGULE

As the year rolls along, I feel I must make a rather hefty confession. The truth to why I have chosen to attend law school might disturb some of you, and for that, I am sorry, but this is something I simply must disclose.

No one within my circle of family and friends seems to believe my standard answer to their “Why law school/Why Harvard?” questions. When I start droning loftily about utilizing justice to empower goodness or seeking challenges greater than those that were available to me in my last job as the assistant to the VP-in-charge-of-whatever, I sense they are simply nodding along because it’s the easiest thing to do. Given I know the truth, and they know I know the truth and I know they know I know the truth, well, patronizing me is just a little less confusing.

My mother’s fears about my ability to flourish at Harvard best explain my impetus to attend. The traditional concerns about academic and social success, withstanding the harsh New England winters, or even re-acclimating myself to life in a dorm (yeah, I live in a dorm. I share a bathroom. That seems to sink in again every morning when I actually don sandals to showerÉ) are not what worry her. Instead, she recognizes the real dangers that confront me each year starting in the first week of April and running through September (and now, it seems, October).

Right across the Charles River, close enough to swing by on an easy run (a fact I intentionally discovered while at admitted students weekend last spring), sits my attraction to Boston. Fenway Park. Yep, I chose Harvard because of the Boston Red Sox. With my family and my roots south of the Mason-Dixon line, I have, ironically enough, decided to surround myself with a bunch of Yanks who say “soda” and can’t distinguish between grilling and barbeque, for the privilege of being close to the Red Sox. Do they have support groups for this kind of thing?

Noting their history, perhaps I should have been warier about justifying three more years of schooling and the debt we will all come to know and love with an organization that has a proclivity for breaking my heart. In addition, spring exams are going to be arduous enough without the temptations of NESN and Landsdowne, without having the Sox right in my own backyard. I won’t even broach the topic of getting to class as the playoffs continue, mainly because my superstitions prohibit me from thinking in such terms. My mother questions, and I am inclined to agree, how on earth I am going to force myself to study when forcing myself into the tiny seats at the ballpark will be so very easy. I know she secretly hopes that my living below the poverty line will prevent me from attending games. Little does she know that a girl can live on Ramen noodles and baseball alone. Not to mention that programs and scorecards can be purchased with book money.

One need not make a major leap of faith to connect the Sox and my law school decision. Nor am I using this as an excuse to write about the Sox as they move deeper into the postseason, hopes riding on the arms of a Schilling-led rotation. Well, maybe a little bit on the second one. The Sox turned my head toward Boston; Boston turned my head toward Harvard; Harvard lets me get closer to the Sox. It’s all cyclical. Preordained. Fate. One doesn’t question such things.

I never really chose the Red Sox; I was born with them. I still imagine my birth certificate reads, “Baby girl, brown hair, blue eyes, 19 inches, 7 lbs 8 ounces, future of pain.” No one has ever determined where I found this obsession; my influences are the Philadelphia Phillies on one side and the (ex) Brooklyn Dodgers on the other. The running joke goes something like, “Oh, Becks. She wanted to make sure life would always be a challenge. So no matter what wonderful things befall her, she will have at least one source of misery!”

The positives of the Sox outweigh the negatives, or so I have convinced myself. Whenever I fret about the social atmosphere at school – Will I have friends? Will I stick out like a broken thumb? Please don’t let me be the smelly kid! –

I already know where I can find refuge in a group of some 33,000 like-minded souls.

If I do manage to make it through all three years and graduate, I will further credit the Sox. Where else could I have raised my threshold for pain so high and built such levels of endurance than through watching years and years of wrenching ballgames? The masochism necessary to love this team might well be the very masochism that sees me through to the completion of this degree.

It’s not that I do not recognize the advantages of the school itself. My decision has been more than buttressed by conversations with current and former students, with Dean Kagan and innumerable impressive professors, with all the people who like to ask, “How is this even a question in your mind??” But all those shiny brochures about clinicals and student groups and mediation programs can’t intoxicate the same way as a fresh, blank Fenway scorecard and a sharpened pencil.

If the names Aaron Boone and Bill Buckner do not raise the hairs on the back of your neck, this probably all sounds like utter folly. But if even the smallest bit of what I have written does not seem completely insane and frivolous to you, will you do something for me? This spring, when you see me inevitably sneaking off campus, remind me that the Sox will always be there, but finals are fleeting. And then please do my grades and my poor mother’s heart a favor and physically force me back to the library. The Sox are my reason for attending Harvard, but I would rather not credit them with my failing out.

Rebecca Agule is a 1L. While she won’t admit to wanting to be Bill Simmons, she dreams of the day she can turn her column into a mailbag. E-mail her at ragule@law.harvard.edu, where she will happily respond to all comments and questions, related and unrelated to her writing.

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