The first month or so of law school has been characterized by the unavoidable presence of two unwinnable social situations. The first is the difficulty of trying to convey an accurate sense of yourself via a couple of introductory exchanges with almost two hundred new classmates; the second is the impossible-to-answer, yet inevitable, question from non-law school friends: “so how is it so far?”
1L is very difficult to wrap up and concisely describe to someone who hasn’t been there firsthand. This isn’t a particularly elitist thing to say; it’s probably applicable to a lot of life situations. After all, which part of it most deserves to be shared? The material? The professors? The atmosphere, your classmates, the beautiful building, the social events, the extra-curricular activities, the firm networking events, the number of hours per week you’re spending reading?
Maybe I’m describing something through my inability to decide what merits description. The life of a law student is incredibly busy, and classroom hours and readings are only a part of it, though a substantial one. One of the most frequently given pieces of advice during orientation and the first weeks is that you can’t just study case law all the time; you can and will go crazy. The law faculty encourages involvement. Nearly everyone in my small group has signed up for LSLAP (Law Students’ Legal Advice Program) or Pro Bono work, as well as any number of sports teams and interest clubs, including the law faculty’s outdoors club, dodgeball team, and Wine Appreciation Club (it’s a thing). It’s been nice to realize that, yes, law students do have other interests. In fact, early on I made the rather pleasant discovery that rather than being ruthless and hypercompetitive semi-robots, law students are just regular people, like me, who decided to go to law school. I know this seems tautological, but to anyone who has ever made the mistake of checking out an online LSAT forum, the idea of several hundred of us all in one place can be terrifying. In fact, it’s just a gathering of interesting, well-educated and diverse people. I had conversations during O-Week about noteworthy court cases, but I also had a rather fascinating discussion concerning what on earth is going on with Miley these days. People are people, notwithstanding the fact that they decided to get a legal education.
My undergraduate program (a BA in philosophy) ran in trimesters; I took three classes at a time. Coming here, rather worryingly, I discovered that I was automatically enrolled in seven. So how is it so far? I like to think an unanswerable question will inevitably receive an incredibly unsatisfying answer, so I tend to reply “it’s a lot” or “it’s different.” And actually, both of these answers are really quite accurate. School here doesn’t come at you in small incremental doses; you’re expected to get used to the pace right away, and I think it’s a pleasant surprise to many to find it actually possible to do so. It’s a lot of hours and a lot of effort and bears little resemblance to any of my previous schooling, but after a bit of settling in these things are exciting rather than alarming, and hopefully will continue to be.
Thanks for reading!