Throughout your orientation week, you’re going to hear a lot of stuff from your teachers, upper-year students, and other faculty about how you belong in these hallowed halls of judicial wisdom, how you’re all here to fulfill your dreams of becoming advocates, how you’re all a bunch of A-type personalities, born lawyers, just waiting to claw your way to the top of the food chain (or, in the alternative, save the world from the injustices of… injustice?).


I’m here to tell you, just between us, nuts to that. I know why you’re all here: You graduated from your undergradoweek with pretty good grades, and you don’t know what else to do with your life. Your job probably sucked (if you had one), and although you had a bunch of cool plans, once you actually took the LSAT and got a decent grade, you just sort of ended up taking the path of least resistance. Welcome to law school.


I’m here to tell you you’re not alone.


After my first week of orientation, I felt the same way I felt my first time standing at the edge of the 10-meter diving board at the Aquatic Center downtown: “What the hell did I do to end up here?” You look ardiving boardound, and everyone around you seems like everyone in their family is a lawyer, a judge, or is at the very least rich enough to own their own home (jerks). But here’s the rub: Everyone’s faking it.


When I say that everyone is faking it, I don’t mean that figuratively; EVERYONE who seems like they’re on top of their stuff, knows what’s happening in class, does the readings, volunteers for everything, and just generally seems to know their stuff, is secretly trembling inside, wondering how the hell they’re going to make it through law school and get a job before someone realizes they’re a fraudulent snake oil salesperson. And if they don’t worry about that? They’re either delusional (likely), a genius (much less likely), or The Dude (hopefully). I don’t mean to get all Holden Caulfield on you, but the truth is, everyone is a phony to some degree.


But that’s fine! That’s what being an adult is all about! God knows it’s true for me. I’m a 32-year old married man living in his parents’ basement. I shouldn’t even be allowed to wear a suit! But guess what? You’re standing on that diving board now. In the immortal words of David Lee Roth, “Might as well jump.”


And what a jump it is. In law school, you’ll meet some of the greatest, kindest, most interesting, funny people at school that you will meet in your entire life. I know, because I did. You’ll get to help people with their legal problems mere weeks after starting school (LSLAP). You’ll get to visit high schools and talk about your experiences getting into law school (Legal Education Outreach). You’ll get to complain about anything and everything with other people who feel exactly the same as you. Oh, the Places You’ll go!

the places you'll go


I don’t want to sugarcoat things. Law school (and law in general) can be outrageously dumb. The way some things are done will make you want to bang your head against a wall until “caffeine with the dean” actually sounds fun. Having an exam worth 100% of your mark is a pedagogical anachronism that didn’t even make sense in the 1800’s.


winston churchill
Sir Winston

But honestly, that’s all part of the fun. I’m a cynic at heart, and even I look back on my completely uninformed decision to go to law school with great fondness. Despite myself, I really enjoy studying law. I guess I think of the law like Churchill thought of democracy: It’s the worst form of governance, besides every other form of governance.


Anyway, here’s my advice: Study hard, but not too hard. If you feel like you need that extra time to get on top of your classes, take it. But remember that your grades aren’t everything. Make friends, tell jokes, get to know your teachers, and volunteer for as much stuff as you can find the time for. Your grades are like your LSAT scores: once your foot is in the door, nobody gives a crap. What do you want to tell your kids about in 20 years? How you managed to pull off that A- in torts, or how, three months into law school, an elderly client confided in you that she wanted to push another elderly woman down a flight of stairs?


Written by Kepler Rotheisler

We both know the answer to that. Good luck, rookie. See you in the water.