Yesterday, I asked my husband for suggestions for blog topics and he said “Why don’t you tell them about the time you deleted your paper?  That was fun.” 

Let me be clear – there was nothing “fun” about that incident, unless you count watching me hyperventilate in the middle of my living room as fun.  But, I think my husband is right, and I should tell you about that moment, if for no other reason than to illustrate the point that law school is stressful for everyone at least at one point during your three years (and I’m going to venture to guess that it will be stressful more than just once!).  But you will get through it, even if at some moments you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel no matter how hard you look.    

So…here’s my “fun” story:  It was the fall semester of my second y ear.  I had a lot going on – I had just started my office hours for the Pace Environmental Law Review, I was writing my article for Law Review, and I was taking a few difficult classes including Environmental Skills.  If you aren’t familiar with the course, it is an intense introduction to environmental law via the Clean Water Act.  And it involves several papers throughout the semester. 

After a particularly trying week, I sat down to write my first Skills paper.  I was on a roll – the paper was just flowing out of me and I spent a solid 5 hours getting the bulk of my first draft down.  But I was on such a roll that I never stopped to save what I was working on (Mistake #1 – always save as you go!!  Saving every time you start a new page is a good way to remind yourself!). 

After those very productive 5 hours, I finally decided that I was done for the day.  Not realizing that I had never saved the paper, I clicked on the little “x” to close out the program.  Of course, Microsoft Word has safeguards in place to prevent people like me from accidentally deleting all of their hard work – a little box pops up and asks if you’d like to save your work before closing.  That should have been enough to make me realize that I needed to save my masterpiece, right?  No, unfortunately, it wasn’t.  Because in a moment that I can replay in my head in slow motion…..I (inexplicably) clicked the “no” button (Mistake #2 – think while you are closing down a program.  My mind was already on what I was going to do next, and I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing at that moment).

Time really did slow down at that point…the one second it took me to click “no” seemed like an eternity.  As I was clicking, I was realizing what was about to happen.  And I started to scream at my computer (maybe this is the part my husband thinks is “fun”??).  But it was too late.  The button popped back up, and my entire paper was gone. 

I called every tech friend I knew begging them to find the paper for me.  There had to be a backup copy saved somewhere, right?!  All came back with the same answer – if you specifically tell the computer not to save something, it listens.  My 5 hours of work, not to mention all of the great stuff I was writing, was gone for good. 

So, why am I telling you this wonderfully uplifting story?!  Like I said, first, it’s to show you that everyone has their moments during law school.  When you think that you are the only one who feels like you are under so much stress, or that you just don’t know if you can handle it, remember – probably every one of your classmates feels the exact same way. 

Second, the obvious reason – I want to remind you to save your work while you are working on it!  Computers are wonderful, but they can be pure evil too – don’t let your paper be a casualty of technology.  And don’t trust only your hard drive to save it either – I had several friends who experienced computer “crashes” during law school and lost some paper that they had been working on for weeks.  Email yourself a copy of any drafts you are working on, or save it to a network drive or something else not attached to your computer, every time you work on it. 

And third – I want you to see that sometimes, what you think is the end of the world actually isn’t.  After I hyperventilated, cried, cursed at my computer and sulked for a few hours, I started writing my paper again.  And the fact that I had already put so much thought into it actually helped me – I was able to see areas where my first draft was lacking, and add to it and strengthen my arguments the second time around.  And when all was said and done, the grade I got on that paper was the highest of all my papers for the class.  So, I’m not saying I was happy that my paper was erased, but I certainly took that opportunity to make lemonade with lemons I created for myself.  And sometimes in law school, all you can do is make lemonade.