Another semester completed. Somehow, I didn’t drop out in the middle of the semester (two people in our 1L class actually did, from what I understand). I’m not sure how I did on finals. I know that this was one of the worst semesters of my life as far as emotions, social stuff and stress itself. We will see how it goes academically.
Now that I’m a wizened incoming 2L, I would like to impart some wisdom on those who are going to law school this fall or who are like me and need a reminder on what mistakes to avoid. This list is neither exhaustive or authoritative, but it hopefully helps. It’ll at least help me.
Don’t wait until the last minute for anything. Seriously. Just don’t. I got away with it in undergrad and in post-grad stuff, but it’s impossible in law school. It only hurts you.
Don’t get caught up in the high school drama that is law school. Maybe that means you’re left out of all the gossip, but, trust me, it’s not great gossip and it’ll get to you eventually. I probably said it before, but law school is so much like high school in the social aspect that it’s ridiculous. It’s best to not let that get to you, appreciate the friends you have and keep on fighting on.
Don’t save outlining for finals. I need this reminder tattooed on my face because I did it again and it was the literal worst. Cramming an entire semester’s worth of information into your head in a few days is not how you learn.
Don’t waste opportunities. Take advantage of everything the school has to offer, even if you don’t want to, even if you don’t think you can. I have missed out on opportunities and taken advantage of them. I regret the ones I’ve missed (scholarships, workshops, jobs, etc.) and I am so completely thankful for the ones I haven’t (namely, meeting Justice Sonia Sotomayor–totally worth getting a suit).
Along that line, don’t forget to buy/get/bring your suit. I didn’t have a suit. All my pre-law school jobs were business casual and I avoided buyings suits like the plague. I am not a small-sized person and I had no interest in spending that kind of money anyway. Before I even started law school, I needed a suit. I, of course, didn’t get one. It didn’t matter that much in the fall, but in the spring when job interviews happen… trying to track down a suit that fits is added stress that you don’t need.
Don’t excuse your bad behavior/decisions or whatever you did that made you unhappy. Seriously. You did bad. Own it and do better.
Don’t work if you don’t have to. There are some people that have to work and some people that are lucky to have not completely maxed out their loans or have family helping. I am one of the people that has to work through school. I bounced between school and work during the weekdays and it wore me out. I have no doubt in my mind that it’s affected my studies and stress levels. There are some that can handle it–maybe handle it better, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take its toll.
Don’t forget to do the little things that make you happy. Relief is necessary. So watch that new episode of Game of Thrones (my roommate) or sing loudly in the apartment to classic 80s hits (me). Give yourself a goddamn minute.
Don’t forget what or who you came to law school for. This was actually advice that my ever-so-colorful civil procedure professor gave. It was right before finals and I was so overwhelmed by law school at the time. When he ended the class with these words, I wanted to cry. Good crying. It’s very easy to get caught up in law school. It’s competitive, stressful, meant to make you work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life–and it will feel like it’s meant to make you fail. I know it’s easier said than done, but you have to pull through and remember why you’re there.
Don’t judge your abilities against those of your classmates. This is so important because it’s pretty freaking toxic. Everyone has their own learning curve, everyone has their own time constraints and personal demands. Comparing yourself to how other people study or what they’re doing is a horrible idea. Although you’re graded against each other on the final, you’re not graded against each other in study habits. You have to do you and go at a pace that doesn’t cause more harm than good. I emphasize this because law school is stressful and emotionally draining as is. Holding yourself against others just adds on more stress and emotions–which do you no goodie the grand scheme of things. However, if you’re going to do it anyway, choose the right person. Someone who you actually think has a good plan in place or has a similar style to you. I chose my roommate. We study differently, but his time management is on point and that’s something I greatly need.
I wish I had a more positive list–maybe later I’ll counter it with a list of “Do’s.” But I think there’s still something to be learned from my mistakes. This semester was a hell-storm of badness. But law school ain’t over yet. There’s still two more years and I am going to do so much better.
PS – I just did a law school google image search because I wanted to spruce up the post. Our law school is ugly as ehf.