Law School, Take Two

After four years of undergrad, two new cities, and a semester of law school, all I know for sure is how to handle every question my extended family will throw at me over winter break. There’s a strict science to it, a standard formula: Keep it positive, stay away from controversy, and pivot to the weather as soon as possible.

Turns out, even revered Christmas traditions are vulnerable to the all-consuming legal education. After a mere four months and one round of exams, all I could muster when faced with the entirely-expected “how’s law school?!” was:

It’s hard.

Now, over a month later with the benefit of hindsight and hard data to back up my analysis, I stick to my original claim. It was hard. Yet, strangely, first semester was comprised of a bunch of things I’d done successfully in some past life, but suddenly found myself ill-prepared for: Getting involved, reading, riding the bus, taking notes, eating three meals a day, speaking in class, writing, staying alive.

Do I think we psych ourselves out? Absolutely. Do I think it’s part of the experience? Definitely. Would I do it differently? Surprisingly, yes. Coming from a guy who avoids regrets at all costs, I’m oddly comfortable looking back and realizing it didn’t need to be as neurotic and fanatical as it was. When I add up all the time I spent comparing myself to my classmates in a panic or sticking with methods that simply weren’t working, I get more than the two hours it should have taken to cut it out.

So, I’ve thought long and hard about what I can do to stay ahead of the curve this semester. I’ve read the blogs, audited the calendar, and have my game plan. To have a truly successful semester, I will:

  1. Hang out with my girlfriend. She deserves more than an overextended roommate. A wise friend always says things aren’t going to get any easier moving forward. We’re all headed toward rewarding, if not entirely family-friendly, careers. If I can’t learn to strike a balance now I have a feeling I’ll be overextended and single.
  2. Be more radical. It has never been more important to speak out truthfully. Plus, if I’m going to make good on the blood oath I’ve made to become public defender I have to up the ante sometime.
  3. Become immersed in the material. Not (only) because it will make a difference when all is said and done, but because with the cost of attendance at this place it’s utterly irresponsible to do anything else. I also needed one practical goal.
  4. Read a book. Just as spot-training isn’t a thing in physical exercise, engaging with other ideas and disciplines is not only important but worthwhile. Sure, I don’t exercise and had to Google “spot training”, but Infinite Jest probably won’t hurt my Con Law grade.
  5. Have one (1) event with my law school friends that does not devolve into a conversation about law school.

While perhaps my honest goal is to embrace the rigor of this new semester and to avoid comparisons and panics, I believe being a real person matters. Even if it’s only for an hour a week. To that end, each of these goals is well within reach.

Except #5. That’s never going to happen.


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