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list of things i would tell anyone contemplating law school

Posted by pocochina on September 30, 2007

1.  Law school is an extremely class conscious place, for a lot of reasons.  Partially it’s because of the general skewing of higher education towards the wealthier segments of the country, but also for some other reasons.  I wonder how many people are here cause “my dad’s a lawyer” – and a successful corporate one with money.  I also wonder how many are here because they weren’t sure what else to do, but weren’t done with school.  Now, all those things are fine.  I think it’s great, and I’m NOT slamming anyone who has those opportunities.   However, a school skewed towards those with money, and even more heavily towards people who will be making lots of money in a couple of years, well, you’ve got a situation.  And your professors went to law school thirty years ago, when it was even more so.  Are they going to grade you down because you’re poor?  No, they’re okay with poverty, or else they’d still be in the private sector.  But a lot of groundbreaking cases involve rich people and their rich, rich problems, and your professors might forget that not everyone knows, say, how a trust fund works.  So know that.

2.  Then there’s the groupthink.  No, the dean at that school wasn’t lying to you about the groupthink, and no, you’re not above it either, so stop looking at me like that.  These people will be your entire world, or the vast majority of it, for the next three years, and a significant portion of them will be your colleagues for the rest of your life.  So it’s not a bad idea to want to be friends, to go along to get along when it doesn’t bother you.  That said, know that’s what’s going on.  Your new BFFs are just as nervous as you are, and it’s part of the reason you’re bonding so quickly.  It will be weirdly hard to just not want to do something.  That’s okay.

3.  Now take the groupthink, and drop the class-consciousness into the test tube, and back away slowly.  Now watch it bubble, and sizzle, and maybe if you’d been able to do this six years ago, you’d be thinking about med school right now, wouldn’t you?  Well, too bad.  Yes.   There are lots of people there on partial or whole loans,but a large number of your circle of friends won’t be worried about it.  There’s going to be school-sanctioned social activities, and they will sound fun, and they *will* cost more than a week’s worth of groceries.  Do it, if it sounds fun.  But that’s a place where it’s probably good not to do something just because all the other kids are doing it.  And this, though your 1L Ethics Seminar would probably tell you otherwise, is a place where it’s okay to lie, if that helps you get by.

4.  Nobody was lying to you about the time law students spend studying.  In fact, they’re probably thinking of finals and underestimating.  Sorry.  Don’t be pressured to go into the library, though – if you hate the library (and it’s especially scary when it’s full of 3Ls) go scope out a cafe or something.

5.  There’s ups and downs to living on campus.  I live on campus, and I love it.  It’s made it much easier to make friends, and since it’s much more convenient to be around people, the pressure is oddly a little bit decreased.  It’s also more convenient for classes, and if you do choose to study in the library, it’s going to be safer if you study late at nght.  That said, though, it is ground zero for all the crazy come exam time.  That Guy in your class that you hate?  He’s going to be on your floor.  (And no, That Guy didn’t get a job after graduation.  He’s in law school.  So know that, too.)

6.  Theres going to be a couple of people in your class that you wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire.  (See #5, cf That Guy.)  However, don’t let them poison your judgment of your classmates in general.  Most of them will be hard working and honorable and witty and energetic, just like you.

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