Wow. For those of you who may not have read this blog before, I am going into my second year of law school. My father is in insurance, but both of my grandfathers were attorneys, and both also graduated valedictorian of their respective classes and went on to very successful careers. Considering I am John E. Branch III, after my father's father, and I am going to the same law school as my mother's father, I often feel I have a lot to live up to. Both of my grandfathers were great attorneys, but they were even better people, something that is more important to me. They have been my mentors and role models for as long as I can remember.
I have not, however, been very successful in living up to their legacy. While my grades were good in undergrad, I was still one of the last people to get into UNC Law School off of the waitlist (I was asked several times last year what the lowest scores were which a white male could make and still get into law school). We had three practice exams last fall, and I made the worst possible grade on all three of them. I did better on my first semester exams, but I completely bombed an exam second semester that I had to do well in to not screw up my GPA. Still, I managed to luck into a job with a very good small firm in Goldsboro this summer. Before I left Chapel Hill I spent the obligatory week after spring semester exams writing a practice recent development (an article published in law reviews) to try out for the journals that are published by the law school.
We have four journals at the law school. The Journal of Law and Technology, the International Law Journal, the Banking Law Journal, and the North Carolina Law Review are all publications where anyone would be honored to be a member, but the most prestigious publication, as well as the most difficult one to get on, is the Law Review.
I got a phone call tonight that I did not expect to get. Dad grilled chicken for dinner, and my family was sitting at table when the phone rang. Mom told us not to get it since we were eating, but I was already up getting the bottle of wine to refill Mom's glass, so I answered the phone. The person on the other end was Kristie Ellison, a member of the North Carolina Law Review. Se offered me a position on the Law Review, and after I babbled incoherently for a minute or so I accepted.
This is one of those nights of true wonder, where I am walking around the house not really understanding where I am or how I got there. I just don't know how this happened. Law school is not the most rewarding experience one goes through. A student is not graded on whether she or he knows the material. Everyone knows the material. A student is graded on how well he or she can analyze the material, which is something I have felt can be very arbitrary, regardless of how good or bad one has done (and I have done both very well and very bad). When I decided to try out for Law Review I did not think that I would be successful. I knew, though, that regardless of the outcome I would always question myself if I did not at least try. I spent a week writing and fine-tuning an article which would determine whether I could follow in my grandfathers' footsteps in at least one way. Fate smiled on me tonight. The work I have put in, the hell I have been through, and the self-doubt that I have fought, were all been worth it. Next year will be difficult. The time commitment for law school and Law Review will be a difficult challenge that I will wrestle with until Mau. It will, though, be a challenge that I am honored and proud to accept. While I will never be as good of a person or attorney as my grandfathers were, I am striving to be the best person and best attorney that I can be. I was lucky tonight in being invited onto Law Review, and I hope I might be lucky enough to be the type of person and the type of attorney my grandfathers were.
P.S. - Since there seem to be a large number of attorneys and law school professors (thanks Professor Cooper) out there, if you have any advice or words of wisdom for me, let me know...