Job Searches, Law Schools, Money

Gradenfreude: From Dreams of Being a Biglaw Big Shot to the Reality of Food Stamps

I don’t know about everyone else, but when I was in law school, I would sometimes feel like a little kid again. And to answer your first question, no, it’s not because of the low level of education I received at my TTT. Instead, I was reminded of my childhood, when I used to play sports in the backyard. I imagined that the game was in its final seconds, and I would win it all by making that big final play. But as childhood fades, so too does some of the fun of life.

What’s the proof of this? What once was a childish fantasy became a legal fantasy when I became an adult. That’s right, in law school, I would sometimes daydream about being a big-shot attorney, with a huge, O.J.-sized case. I would spout off some legal jargon to the amazement of the jurors in my closing, and then they would come back after only a few minutes, giving my client the “win,” and making me very, very wealthy at the same time.

Just like my dreams of athletic glory, this dream now seems far-fetched. The résumés and cover letters continue to rack up in my sent mail box, but nothing except spam, CLE event notifications, Groupon ads, and messages from ugly girls on fill my inbox. Things have become so bad that I would even welcome a simple acknowledgement that my application was received….

Making matters worse, this past week my parents had to sit me down about contributing to the overall welfare of the family — which, of course, meant they wanted to talk about the lack of contribution on my part since I quit my full-time retail job (only to later get a part-time retail job) just over a month ago. They said that something really needed to change, or else.

And last week, something did change. I took the first steps to once again have the government hand me money that I did nothing truly special to receive, which I will never, ever pay back. On Friday, I made my way down to the local municipal building and signed up to receive food stamps. I still can’t believe it.

I felt like I’d been punk’d after going to law school, and it was a crushing blow to my self-esteem. Like most people who fall on hard times, never did I picture myself signing up for government assistance. I felt similar to the athletes of today who go bankrupt. While I never had the fame or fortune they do, I still had the chance to “make it big,” or at least “make it TTT big” (does that even exist anymore?), but things just didn’t work out. I had all the tools needed, but one thing or another prevented me from reaching my full potential.

It was quite humbling to be in the public assistance office with people who so visibly and desperately need help, and to realize that I, as a law school graduate, am really no better off than they are. I was sitting in the same room with people who looked homeless, and trying to get the same exact government handout. This is what it’s come to for recent law school graduates, and I still can’t decide if it’s some sort of a sick joke.

But I refuse to allow this situation to be a negative one. Instead, I’ll use this experience to fuel my dwindling motivation. After weeks of fruitless attempts to find a job, I grew depressed with my situation. But slipping a bit further into the hole and seeking food stamps actually served as a wake up call. I’m now motivated to get myself out of this funk, and help others who find themselves in hard times. I’m not sure what this will ultimately result in, but I have fire in my belly and I’m ready to make a change, somehow.

When not writing about life after law school for Above the Law, Tristan Taylor Thomas (not his real name) works at a retail job stocking shelves — which he admits is slightly better than being a shoeshiner. You can reach him by email at

(hidden for your protection)

comments sponsored by

Show all comments