As Nike recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of its “Just do it” campaign, I can soundly attest that I have lived by that motto. In the grand scheme of things, this day had been a long time coming. As cliché as that may sound, it feels like it was only yesterday that I picked up all my belongings, moved to Omaha and began my trek of completing law school.
It would be misleading to claim that these past two years were not without difficulty, struggles and sacrifice. I relocated to a place I had never been, without knowing a person, and left my very well-paying job in order to accomplish what seemed like a lofty goal.
Now, as I officially have my juris doctor in hand, I can tell you it was the absolute best decision I could have made. What I knew then, and what still holds true today, is that obtaining my law degree was not for an immediate reward or increase in compensation. But rather, it was a step to achieve a long-term goal and dream of finally being in a place where I can make a difference.
Admittedly, what I did not fully grasp at the time I entered law school was just how many doors would open for me after graduation. As these new unexpected opportunities presented themselves, I was certain the cost was well worth it.
On Sept. 4, 2018, I began work as the newest associate at a firm in Omaha. If you would have asked me two years ago where I would be and what I would be doing, I am confident that my plans would not remotely resemble my present day reality.
Law school will certainly do that to you – make you rethink and reconsider many things. On one hand, I had these grandiose ideas about why I wanted to go to law school. I had every intention of returning to Southern California and practicing mediation.
Yet, on the other hand, there was no telling what opportunities would present themselves while in law school or thereafter. So much so, that I had neither planned nor anticipated that I would practice law or even work for a law firm after graduation.
However, I have learned on more than one occasion that life can be wonderfully ironic. As a timely illustration of this irony, here I am today, not only finished with law school, but gainfully employed at a law firm.
I am often asked why I chose to stay in Omaha. Let’s be frank, the weather and climate in Southern California was a lot more appealing to me. However, the truth of the matter is I am simply an opportunist.
Just before graduating law school, I received an offer I could not turn down. This offer was more than just compensation (as important as pay and benefits are, every offer comes with a set of intangibles). The most important intangibles for me included work environment and support.
As a result of graduating in August, I was not eligible to sit for the July bar exam. It became imperative to me to have the needed support to study and prepare for the bar. I was able to take more than two months off from work to study, prepare and sit for the February bar exam. [Note: Olowolafe received notification on April 18, 2019, that he passed the bar exam.]
This support was a critical factor in my decision to stay in Omaha — far more appealing than year-round ideal weather. This support illustrated how much this law firm was willing to bend in order to help me succeed. And to imagine, this was only the beginning of my new-found law career.
There is no telling what opportunities would have come my way had I chosen a different law school than Creighton. What I do know is that Creighton provided me a unique place where opportunities to gain experience and hands-on knowledge were plentiful.
These opportunities were not based solely on whether I was in the top 10 percent of my class, or a member of Creighton’s Law Review, neither of which were personally the case for me. Rather, these opportunities presented themselves because I was keen on taking whatever opportunities came my way and making the most of them.
I have always believed that life is about timing, and I have no regrets in waiting as long as I did to attend law school. Even through the difficulties, struggles and sacrifices that I endured to get to where I am today, there is no doubt that this journey has been special.
I did what I set out to do, and I am in a better place because of it. Thankfully, it took me less than 30 years to finish law school, but just like Nike, “I just did it!”
Seyi Olowolafe moved from Southern California to Omaha to attend law school at Creighton as an accelerated JD student in the summer of 2016 and obtained his juris doctor in August 2018. He is an associate at Jackson Lewis, PC, in Omaha.