It’s been a year since I started law school. Wow! A year goes by so quickly.
Yesterday, a few of us were invited to give our advice to the incoming part-time students and to hang out with them over lunch to answer their questions. I remember how excited and nervous I was when I was in their seat. Law school was finally happening; the culmination of several years of planning. First deciding I wanted to go, then studying for the LSAT, then taking the LSAT, then getting the score, then applications, waiting for admissions, lots of paperwork, financial aid forms. And it was all about to start.
That morning, they had their practice lecture on the Hairy Hand case. It was their first experience reading casebooks. I remember how confusing that was and how overwhelming it felt. And while I’m a little nervous starting second year (three doctrinal classes instead of two, and I don’t know any of the professors), it’s nothing like it was the first year. Sometimes you forget just how much you’ve learned.
So, I tried to give the students the good advice I was given and the advice I wish I had been given.
- Give up on trying to do everything perfectly. Figure out what you can stop doing, or do less perfectly. I told them about the time I went to Target and bought socks because it would take less time than doing laundry.
- Set limits. Take nights off. Say, “This paper is good enough. I need to go have dinner with my friends.” Stop studying.
- Don’t get behind. Keep up with the reading.
- Don’t get involved first year. As a part-time student, I have three years to get involved after first year’s over. Go to meetings and events, but don’t sign up for any roles until you’re sure you have school under control.
- Outline early. This was opposite advice we’d been given. Everyone said it could wait until after Thanksgiving. It can wait, but I think it created a lot more stress than was necessary. So, I told them to start early, even if it was only a rough outline summarizing each section, or only if they spent a few hours a month doing it.