A Full-Time Student

Taking a break before diving in

A Full-Time Student

My first day with LexBlog was sometime in August of 2008. The previous summer I worked at a Hastings (a now, mostly defunct retail chain for movies, books, video games, CDs, and okay coffee), my last retail job. LexBlog, by way of Colin O’Keefe, provided me a route to take the first steps in my career with a part-time editorial position. I began by working on their content aggregator, LexMonitor, covering the work of the largest law firms in the country.

Fast forward eleven years and LexMonitor is a thing of the past at LexBlog, as am I.

On September 26th I walked out of a WeWork in downtown Seattle on what would be my last long walk home after a day at LexBlog. The walk was about five miles, something I’d done countless of times since moving to Seattle in 2013 to work for LexBlog full-time. It was a walk reserved for thinking through especially hard problems or after a long night (and sometimes early morning) of work. This time, it was a walk into a new branch of my personal and professional life.

Two years ago I came to terms with the fact that I was unimpressed and dissatisfied. Not with LexBlog, but with myself. There was more that I wanted to do and contribute to, but these feelings (a combination of reality and impostor syndrome) held me back. In September of 2017 I began working on a post-bacc degree from Oregon State University, and a new world opened up.

After two quarters, I was hooked. While taking courses, I investigated my graduate school options in Seattle and came to terms with the fact that none were for me. After a lot of hand-wringing, I made my decision. This spring, as I wrapped up my degree requirements at OSU, I applied to Georgia Tech’s OMSCS (Online Master of Science in Computer Science) program and was accepted.

Now, it’s one thing to want something and another to be faced with the reality of holding it in your hands. After two years of long nights and weekends spent on homework, I was tired. My wife, a resident doctor with the University of Washington, was tired of seeing me tired. The rubber had met the road and it was time to make a decision.

I’m generally comfortable speaking my mind, but the initial conversations with people at LexBlog about my choice to leave were some of the most uncomfortable. Work is my community and sanctuary, and I had invested a great deal in the company.

After a few months of tying up loose ends and preparing to walk out the door, I did, and walked right into the buzzsaw that is Georgia Tech’s engineering department. For the past few months, I have been a full-time student and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I was able to relish in the newfound freedom. The program is a significant step-up (both in terms of rigor and quality) from OSU, and it took some time to adjust my expectations and approaches.

Last week, as I wrapped up finals, it finally hit me that I wasn’t going back to the offices. While this blog will remain on LexBlog’s platform, the things I write about will no longer be about the challenges of work or balancing school with work. Instead, they’ll be about the latest and greatest thing on my reading list (usually computer science papers, but also things about bread), side projects, and general random musings from my courses. I’ll be done with school in the spring of 2021, but until then it’s time to revel in the world of computers that continues to unravel in front of my eyes.

I still miss LexBlog; the challenges, the people, and the excitement of a small team working on a big problem is not something that is easily replaced. That said, it has been exciting to watch the company from afar as it continues to grow and find new ways to shine a light on the work of sharp and dedicated legal minds. I know great new things are in store for them.

As for me? I’m just looking for the next long walk.