In Legally Blonde, Elle says the famous words, “what, like it’s hard?”
It’s become some sort of a mantra for female students applying to and starting law school. As kickass as this moment was in the movie, however, there’s something very important to note here.
She says these words in reference to getting into law school, not actually attending law school, which, as you recall, she immediately struggles with.
Getting into law school is deceptively simple. There are no prerequisites. Elle’s undergrad had nothing to do with law, or anything even in the humanities. Her focus was in fashion.
All it takes to get into a law school is to have gone through undergrad and to have taken the LSAT. There is no “passing” score on the LSAT, and you will be able to find a law school that accepts you somewhere in the USA if you have taken it at all. It won’t be a good law school, but it will be a law school.
Getting into a good law school, like Harvard, requires a good GPA and LSAT score. If you have a 3.9 GPA and 175+ LSAT, you’re almost guaranteed to get into Harvard Law.
I will not downplay what an impressive feat this is, but you still need to realize that both a high undergrad GPA and a high LSAT score are things that to some, come easily. We all know those kids in college who got straight A’s without trying, and kids who did well on standardized tests (like the SAT) without really trying.
Elle had a 4.0 GPA (so yes, she’s smart), and yes she struggled with increasing her LSAT practice score but she still got a 179 (a score I actually never heard of in real life) on the first try. Meaning, she’s a great test taker.
This has very little to do with how one feels while in law school.
At most law schools, you do not have any exams until the finals. Instead you are expected to only keep taking in information, without being tested on them in any formal manner, and you need to do this in ridiculous volume and speed. You need to be reading cases for 4, 5 classes that all meet nearly everyday, and retaining all this information. It’s not easy. It’s not designed to be easy.
The film made this as clear as it could. Elle’s struggles with getting into Harvard were not even half the battle. It was a cute, fun montage of her studying for the LSAT and putting together a video essay. Once law school starts, she initially crashes and burns, in more ways than one. And then she realizes she really needs to get her shit together.
It can be very discouraging for these hopeful Elle Woodses to start law school and then realize how difficult it is in comparison to everything they’ve done before. But it’s important to remember that their heroine, Elle Woods, struggled, too. You can do it. You can get through it. Just remember:
“So the rules thus far are ‘don’t be late’ and ‘don’t be absent from class,’ unless you are absent because of circumstances outside your control. In that case, notify me before class. If I walk in here and you are not in your seat, and I don’t already know why that is the case… I will assume that you are dead. We will hold a brief service in your memory and then continue on, as we know you would want.”
“Yeah I mean if you don’t know the answer that’s fine, but I’m gonna make you pick the next person I call on. It’s a social experiment I run. I like to see if people pick their friends or their enemies. Wildly amusing. Anyway, be prepared for that.”
“So as the plaintiff’s counsel, you review all the possible venues and pick the one that’s the fairest to everyone….. haaaaahahaha I’m just kidding. You rig the court in your favor as much as you possibly can.”
“You’re supposed to go to a basement during a tornado. Why don’t y'all have basements?” “Can’t watch from a basement” “You’re going to die”
“My own law professor once described admiralty jurisdiction as ‘shit that happens on boats’ so [writes ‘boat shit’ on the board]”
“So then Congress gave itself a raise and America shouted, ‘Give it back you evil bastards!!!’ so loudly that they did.”
“I will provide you with pizza. For beverages, you’re on your own, but please abide by university policy. Which is that we can’t have FUN.”
“And WHAT do we find outside the cities????? C O W S”
“All the desks on the third floor are reserved for 3Ls in practice court. Since you’re dying like, 100% of the time, they kindly give you a place to die. Sometimes you can see the lost souls wandering past the balconies….”
[makes a list of twenty-four things that could go wrong] [writes TRUMP in all caps as number twenty-five]
You know what the world needs? Lawyers who understand immigration and institutional barriers. Lawyers who understand feminism. Lawyers who have a background in business and marketing and can revamp the legal business model.
In short, go to be Elle Woods. Study what you love, and make yourself a better lawyer than all those political science majors who never thought there was an option outside the box.
I have officially climbed over a massive hurdle. That
massive hurdle of completing and graduating law school. It has been a long and
tough road. From sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, and barely passing my first
semester by the skin of my teeth. But all that seems insignificant, the moment
I walked across that stage in all my MELANIN GLORY as I gazed upon my fellow colleagues.
Realizing, my class (CLASS OF 2017) was the first class of my university to
have the highest percentage of POC walking across that stage to receive their Juris
Doctor degree. A university, where historically POC’s make up less than 15% of
the population. So not only was this a momentous moment for me, but for those who
look like me, and those who see me and feel inspired that through hard work and
dedication, anything is possible!
For those that doubted me, those who claimed I wasn’t good
enough, and those who my dreams will never become a reality… well to you, I
say “Thank You!” You see your lack of support and intent to tear me down provided
me with the ammunition that allowed me to overcome every obstacle law school hurled
my way. I walked across that stage and claimed my degree, despite your doubt. .
. I AM GOOD ENOUGH. My dreams will never become a reality you say? Many told me
it was unrealistic to expect to obtain employment overseas straight out of law
school, furthering that it was even difficult to obtain one in my own city. I
can only chuckle as I sit here completing my visa application for a position in
China I landed BEFORE I even walked across that stage. If you see no opportunity,
then YOU must be the master of your own plan and create that opportunity.
“Not everyone will understand your journey, that’s fine…
It’s not their journey to make sense of. It’s YOURS!” (Zero Dean)