I really wanted to write this earlier but saying I passed 1L year without grades would have been a mess. Now, grades are in and I PASSED! I’m not one to get into grades or GPAs and discuss them; it’s really no one’s business. However, I have no problem telling people if I passed all my classes. After all passing is only, what, a C? Suffice to say, I got a passing grade in all my classes!
1L year was crazy. I never expected to have to work as hard to school as I did. I’m surprised my relationships stayed in tact as much as they have. I never thought finding a legal job would be this difficult. In the end, I learned a lot, substantively, about myself, and about life. I’m glad I decided to go to law school and hope that I have this much passion for the next 2 years and into my career.
What I learned in law school:
1. You can’t control everything so stop trying, relax, and worry about yourself.
You can’t control what grades other people get on an exam, where you fall in the class, or how much studying everyone else does. All you can do is worry about yourself. There will be people who basically live in the library, people who party every night, and everywhere in between. It’s up to you where you want to fall in that spectrum and what you want to do with your time. There is no sense in worrying about things out of your control, including what other people do, because in the end IT’S NOT IN YOUR CONTROL!
2. You do you
Similar to worrying about yourself, it’s important to make sure you realize no two people learn the same. I hate outlines. I love notecards. I hate briefs. I love pre-reading for the week. I have yet to find another person who does that or likes to do what I do and has it work for them. And that is perfectly fine. For a lot of our education we’re told how to take notes, how to learn, how to study and in the end it’s very counterproductive. I’ve heard about people being required to take outline form notes, notecards, and whatever this is:
I rarely took notes the same way in different classes and it clearly worked for me (if you consider passing good enough, which for this sake, I do). Professors will try to give you an idea of how to study and you can always pull ideas from other students but in the end, you have to do you. If you look like an idiot with 260 note cards taped to your wall before finals, so be it.
3. There will be things you don’t understand and things no one understands.
I still to this day do not understand products liability. Maybe I’m an idiot, maybe I had a bad professor, maybe my mind just doesn’t work that way. Who knows? It is what it is and as long as you can muddle through and pass the class, you have more time and less pressure to learn it. One of my goals for the summer is to review what I learned this year, substantive and procedural, in the most basic sense just as a refresher. We’ll see if that helps. There are also things no one understands. I’m 99% sure maybe 2 people in my entire property class understood the rules against perpetuity and I’m guessing those 2 have forgotten since then. Again, it is what it is.
Don’t stress out about not understanding everything exactly. By all means, seek professor’s help, supplements, outlines, older students, etc. but some things just will not click until way later in the semester and it’s fine!
4. Look for jobs early
I had 1L jobs looked up and bookmarked starting over midterm break in October. 1Ls can’t contact employers until December 1st and our CSO wouldn’t talk to us until November 1st. Luckily, I have family and friends that are great with resumes and cover letters and had them look it over before I met with CSO. Take 15-20 minutes a week and look at companies that will hire 1Ls. Make a list and keep that list. Apply early and hopefully you’ll be able to land an awesome position.
5. Your relationships will suffer-moderately or mildly
I’d be lying if I said my relationships with people are the same as before I started school. Patrick and I didn’t live together last year but he was over all the time. There were so many more fights and petty arguments. Constant stress and annoyance. But, we’re still together, we’re still getting married, and we still love each other more than anything. I’m lucky to have someone who understands I have a lot of work to do and don’t always have time to just “hang out”. Some people aren’t as understanding about why you can’t hang out and how you’re always working. Those relationships may suffer more but hopefully, you’ve surrounded yourself with people who are supportive of you going to law school.
Also, you’ll make new friends in law school. Most of them completely understand law school and being busy. One thing that sucks about having friends in law school is that it can be difficult to get together but it’s not terrible.
I could impart “knowledge” but honestly, I don’t think there is much knowledge that is completely across-the-board. If I survived, you’ll survive.