It’s been a full semester. Law school is exactly what you would think and nothing like you would think. I went in with expectations of it being the most grueling time of my life. And it was, but it also… wasn’t that bad. I can’t say it hasn’t been worthwhile. I also can’t say I’ve enjoyed it. It was hell on earth and I surpassed my own expectations. I’ve also failed myself a bit too.
I realized about a week after law school started that I hadn’t done my research. Yes, I did some research on schools. I did some research on the job market and prospects. I did some research on my own personal career path. I did zero research on actually being in law school.
One of the biggest hurdles was that of studying. I never had study skills while I was in high school or in my undergrad. One good read-through was enough to get me far enough. So, I had to develop those skills and develop them fast. I went from book notes, to case briefs, to post its in the margins. In real crunches, I would just write in the margins (which is a Marcie no-no). Eventually, I got the hang of it… sort of.
One big study tool is an outline (my most hated word still). I did not utilize it to the best of my abilities… or anyone’s abilities… since I didn’t really utilize it at all. Maybe some people did it in every other academic level, but I never did. I outline essays, not courses. Outlining a course is basically the same as outlining an essay… but you do it after and it’s more time consuming (and it sucks). So when people started outlining, I was lost and confused. The whole concept was foreign to me. I resisted doing it and learning about it for so long that I never got around to actually completing an outline before finals (one of those times that I failed myself).
Honestly, from this vantage point, the whole semester is a blur. All I can remember are the finals. Finals that cause you physical pain. Finals that keep you up at night. Finals that seem never ending. Finals that practically are never-ending (cough, cough, property). It’s all hard. You feel like you’re knowledgeable and coasting through the semester, but really, you’re not and you know nothing. Finals will make you realize that.
It may be surprising to find that what’s hard about law school isn’t just the coursework. It’s the support too.
Law school can be pretty lonely. Maybe this isn’t the same for other people, but I thought it was. I need people, in general, and, in Champaign, I desperately needed people. But Free time was scarce and my friends in the school were busy and stressed. I was too.
My relationships with friends from home were strained (apparently people don’t want to wait until Wednesday to talk to me, jerks).
Even then, I was about as conversational as a wall.
My roommate would leave every weekend and I wouldn’t leave the apartment except to study at a coffeeshop.
My closest friend in the law school took off in the middle of the semester (like ya do) and left a little bit of a lurch. She was the person I sat next to in all my classes. When she left, I had no one to sit next to in classes. I was constantly poor, so doing things like dinner and drinks with other students wasn’t always an option. I also can’t say I’m the most outgoing person. So for me, it was extra lonely.
In some ways, law school can be a bit like high school too. Maybe it’s because the school is so insulated. There are groups of people that hang out, like little cliques that intermingle with other specific little cliques. Despite that, everyone is in everybody else’s business. Nothing is secret and everyone is ready to casually talk about your business. I’ve never had to watch what I say as much as I have this past semester. I’m almost positive it’s because we don’t see anyone but each other. We have nowhere else to get our thrills. Again, maybe that’s just how I view it, but it certainly added to my mental stress.
I’ve only discussed the bad things. There are some good things. Law school forces you to get some of your act together. None of this blowing off a paper to go to wine night at Krannert. It instills some good practices for those that didn’t already have them. I’m obviously where I want to be, even if it’s not fun. If it were supposed to be fun then it would be an amusement park, amirite?
Despite the difficulties, I’m looking forward to going back. At least the first semester is over. Hopefully the next one is better. I have a better handle on studying and what I need to do before finals. It’ll be fine.