Monday, November 7, 2011

Me, a Tutor

I've been in a bit of a rut lately.  Not a depressive rut or anything, but the kind of post-vacation, what am I doing with my life, how am I going to entertain the kids when it's pitch black at 6pm kind of rut.  Just a bit restless.  I have been chalking it up to getting back from Disney and having real life come crashing back, but last week I had a bit of a (small) breakdown. 

It's not that I am thinking I want to go back to work - I don't.  It's just that sometimes that existential question creeps in - how do I want to spend my time in this life?  I mean, my time - my free time.  I do have that, sometimes.  When the kids are napping, or at night, or when my husband gives me a break.  But what do I want to do with that?  Watch TV?   Eat?  Exercise to make up for the watching TV and eating?  Shop?

The truth is, I don't know.  But I'll tell you what I'm not doing during my free time.  I'm not making money.  And I'm not really using my brain. 

 Last week I ventured onto Craigslist, which I hadn't done in a while.  I don't even know what I was looking for.  I searched the part time jobs, which were pretty depressing.  And then I started looking at the classifieds.  I saw a section, entitled "Lessons and Tutoring."  Hmmm, tutoring?  Surely I could tutor someone, and maybe even get paid for it.  But what could I tutor?  What do I know?

Well, I do have a law degree.  And I can write.

Yes, y'all, I can write more than just blogs posts.  Through five years as a litigation associate at law firms, I mastered the science of memo writing and persuasive briefs and IRAC (if you're a lawyer, you know what I mean).  Given that I don't practice law anymore, I figured this skill would go wasted.  But perhaps not!  Surely there was some law student somewhere who is as clueless as I once was and wants a bit of help.  I posted an ad, and sure enough, two days later I got a response. 

The law student has been struggling in his legal writing class and wanted some extra help.  We agreed to meet this weekend, and in advance of that meeting, he sent me the assignment from his legal writing class. 

And here's where it gets a little nerdy.

I read the assignment and got all excited about it.  Do any of you lawyers out there ever go back and do LSAT questions?  Just for the fun of it?  I do. Is that weird?  My husband does too, but I think it's just to remind me how much smarter he is than me. 

So for a half hour or so, I pretended I was a law student again and the assignment was all mine.  I read the fact pattern, spotted the issues, and outlined a response.  And I felt all smart despite the fact that the fact pattern and issues were ridiculously simple (this is an intro legal writing class after all).  I resisted the urge to actually draft the memo myself, just for myself, and marvel at its logic. 

The weird thing is, this didn't make me want to go be a lawyer again.  The best part about this intellectual exercise was that it was mine.   There was no pressure, no stress, no deadline.  And that was refreshing, and what made the whole thing so nerdily enjoyable.  So no, I won't be running back to the law firm begging for my job back.  But it did make me realize that maybe I should turn off the TV and start using my brain during my free time.  And maybe this tutoring thing will be a way for me to do that, and make a little bit of money on the side. 

I met with the student this weekend, and the session went really well.  It felt good to think.  It felt good to analyze.  It felt good to help someone.  And man, did it feel good to make some money.  So what if we blew all of my earnings on Mexican food last night? 


  1. I've thought about getting a medical degree. Partly to collect degrees, so I would then have a chemical engineering degree, a law degree, and a medical degree. I still might take the MCAT for fun. I bought the review book, but it's just sitting there.

    With respect to legal writing, I've litigated for years, but never really got the hang of legal writing. Writing legal documents just isn't my thing. Or writing, for that matter.

    Practicing law kind of bores me out of my mind, but then again so does most work.

    I'd probably be much happier as a research scientist.

  2. I totally do LSAT questions for fun every once in a while. I thought I was the only one.

  3. The GMAT is a fun test to play with, too. It's easier than the LSAT (if you enjoy math), though.

  4. I started teaching 1 night a week at a community college a couple years before I started having kids. I am so thankful for that very part-time job (which is also very flexible -sometimes I teach 1 class, sometimes as many as 3!) because it allows me to share my knowledge of my "pre-mommy" profession and use my brain. I don't get paid nearly as much as the amount of work I put in. But the lack of money is WELL made up by the amount of stimulation it gives me "academically."

    On another note, another thing I used to do to help me "use my brain more" was volunteer. One of my all-time favorite volunteer jobs was with my local Mothers Center organization. I got to network and find guest speakers and presenters for weekly meetings. It was such a fun job!


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