4 Regrets (and 1 Tip) about my first years of law school
As I see the hallways filled with 1Ls, looking dazed and confused as they try to figure out how to plan their drinking parties around classes, I am tempted to stop some of them and just shake them. I want to shake them so they wake up and realize the effort and different way of thinking the law school animal demands, and how, like, COOL it is to be here!
Since I can’t legally or logistically shake the 1L kids at school (yes, I call them kids… I am almost 10 years older them most of them -and about 7 years older than most kids in my own class), I decided to list a few of my law school regrets.
Things I regret not doing in my first 3 years of law school:
1. I regret not keeping my notes more organized as I typed my outlines. I realize now, as I start this semester, that I wish I had all my typed notes in one place and all my outlines still accessible because a lot of the notes I took first year in the basics (Contracts, Torts etc) would be helpful with some of my classes now (Sales, Negotiable Instruments etc). I love having my Family Law outline bound (see my video blog about how I organized my outline and had it bound at Kinko’s here), and now I plan to attempt a resurrection of my older outlines and have them bound as well.
2. I regret not talkig to more people. I am a shy introvert by nature. Or maybe an extroverted introvert at most. Those who know me in person would never believe I consider myself an introvert, but it’s true. Only in the past 2 years or so, because of law school, have I started to get more comfortable with networking and talking to strangers. I guess we all evolve in our own time, and I can’t dwell on the opportunities I may have missed in my silence, but if I had to do it all over again, I would have made more of an effort to connect with people during my first three years of law school.
3. I regret not reaching out to professors more. This goes hand in hand with my #2 above, but I specifically wish I had taken the next step and gotten to know my professors a bit better. Having professors as colleagues is not only a strategic networking move, but I also love learning about how people got involved in the legal industry to begin with, what motivates them, what they love about it etc. The professors I have built relationships with more recently have turned out to be some amazing people with pretty awesome stories.
4. I regret not taking the Academic Excellence class (“intro to being a law student”) that is offered first semester of 1L more seriously. In the class, a professor (at New England Law, the professor in charge of this program is phenomenal-everyone should be so lucky to have such a law school”coach”) teaches you about the various learning modatilies and how to use them to your advantage in law school (click here to read more about learning methods and take the VARK test to find yours ). I ignored most of the study tips in that class, and ended up revisiting them later, with a more serious attitude, and found that there was indeed a better way for me to be studying. You can’t really party like a rockstar in law school and expect to do well, especially if you don’t have some sort of foundation of the new study habits you need for law school. It ain’t undergrad anymore, kids. The socratic method will slap you in the face until your brains are spinning in your skull, and you will have a smaller mess to clean up if you figure out how to study early on.
5. This is not a regret but just a tip – step back and enjoy the experience! Be proud of yourself no matter which school you are attending! If law school was easy, everyone would do it (ok, maybe not everyone, but a LOT more people). Everything is what you make of it. You are part of an elite group of people who directly affect human lives on a daily basis. To study law is so special; to understand how to anylyze problems holistically in order to solve them is a skill that most people do not have. Take pride in the fact that you are learning this specialized trade…and if you still, REALLY hate law school, at least you’ll have some great, bitter, cyncial, jaded stories to tell your kids one day. And that, my friends, is living.
Ok, off my soapbox. Happy school year, everyone!! LBB out.