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things I wished I'd known LAST YEAR

April 9, 2006

It’s hard to believe that, in one week, my second semester of law school (and my first year of law school) will be over. Oh, OK, I have finals after that. But I’ll be done with my 1L classes. Required classes will be completed, legal writing will be a thing of the past (actually, that was true once Moot Court was over).

So I want to take this opportunity to write about a few things I learned this year. It’s worded more like advice, but it’s really stuff I wished I’d had written down last year, stuff I could have looked at when things got really crappy.

Law school is no harder than any other school. The thing that makes law school worse than other school (note: NOT harder) is that it requires you to be one hundred times more organized if you want to keep your head above water. While some things in law school are relatively easy to bullshit, you can’t bullshit your exam. And to be able to NOT bullshit your exams, you have to be organized all semester. At least, if you’re me. I’m sure there are some students who never go to class and never read and never study and manage to do well (or at least fine), but most of us have to do some preparation. That may not mean going to class every day, or doing every bit of reading, or even outlining. But you can’t do nothing (like a lot of us did in college, while still getting A’s). You have to do some work, whatever work works for you.

If you make law school the only thing you do, you will not be happy. You have got to have a life outside of school. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to meet people outside of school–frankly, that’s hard, given the amount of time we all spend at school, and with the same group of fellow students. But you can’t make everything about law school or you will get sick and tired of it all a lot quicker than necessary. Me, I joined student organizations that were completely non-law related–the a capella group, the law school musical. Yes, the people in those groups are law students, but we don’t do law things when we get together. Instead, we sing, we dance, we have fun letting our hair down. I have a husband, too, and that helps me have a balanced life. But you can have a balanced life even if you don’t have a significant other outside of school. You just have to be conscious of it. Go see movies, go to concerts and museums. Join a church or a synagogue or volunteer with a local food bank. Do something that is not sitting in the library studying, or working out. Remember, you are a whole person, and the law is not enough to feed you.

Even if it’s hard, you have to keep your perspective. Law school grades are curved. That, frankly, kind of stinks. It means someone will always be below the median, and it means that someone might sometimes be you. Don’t let the competitiveness take you over, though. Don’t make grades your end-all, be-all. As above, get involved with student organizations. Take on leadership roles. Volunteer for stuff. Get to know your professors. A well-rounded resume is a good thing. Face it–most of us won’t be in top percentiles of our class. But if your resume has nothing on it but your grades, you won’t be very memorable for employers. Stand out from the bell curve by doing things that you enjoy that give you opportunities to shine in other ways.

Finally, enjoy yourself as much as possible. Make friends. Eat at good restaurants. Drink nice beer sometimes, and drink cheap beer when that’s all you can afford. Go dancing. Celebrate local holidays. Have parties. Go to parties. Live it up. Law school is hard, but it’s still school. And when it’s over, you have to go to work. Don’t rush. Take time to smell the roses and all that.

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Categories: 1L
  1. April 10, 2006 at 6:31 am

    Great advice! I feel like I now understand how to go to law school (and I’m nearly done!). I wish I could do it all over again — seriously!

  2. chris ray
    June 9, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    Do NOT go to OCU if you want to be treated fairly. There is absolutely NO justice at that school. Take my advice on this.

  3. June 9, 2006 at 5:34 pm

    Um, OK. Check, no problem.

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