Let’s be honest, law school is high school all over again but instead of who is wearing what outfit, it’s who failed a class or slept with another classmate this weekend. Sometimes, it completely sucks being around a gossip mill that churns out less than spectacular news items about classmates. I’ll admit, I’m a huge gossip and I love knowing what’s going on in everyone’s life. Not just the gossip part but the “how are you” “how’s your family” life too. Surviving the gossip mill of law school can be a lot to take on if you aren’t prepared for it and being able to recognize when you’re slipping into gossip mode is important.
Here’s a good example: every year the 1Ls plan a Halloween party at a local bar for law students and their family/friends. Patrick and I were there and met a man who asked Patrick what it was like to live with a law school and to tell him it gets better. We found out his wife is a 1L and has been struggling with the work, understanding things (typical 1L struggles) but also has a reputation in her class as being mean. Now, in the short time I had known this girl, I couldn’t imagine her being mean. She was so nice and grateful to have someone to talk to about her problem with the gossip mill and I still think it’s one of those reputations that is wrong. However, the gossip mill keeps feeding the idea she’s mean.
So how do you go about surviving law school when you have to worry about what your reputation is or what people are saying about you? It’s actually really easy. You just have to ignore, ignore, ignore. First off, remember if someone wants to gossip about you, they will find something to gossip about. You could be the most vanilla, nicest person in the world, they will find something. Don’t stress about everything and let them gossip about stupid things like how you looked stupid in that class or failed a test.
Next, don’t give them anything to gossip about. We’re all intelligent adults here. We know that if you go out one weekend, get trashed, and get arrested, it’s going to be talked about. Now, I’m not saying don’t have fun or do anything crazy but know that certain things will turn into gossip. If it doesn’t bother you, fantastic! Go do your thing.
When something in your life inevitably becomes gossip, just don’t play into it. Don’t comment on it, don’t spread it around, just let it be. Things move fast in law school and if you don’t make a big deal about it, people will move on. When I’ve had gossip going around about me, I lean on my few close law school friends and give them the whole 100% truth. Other than that, if Billy wants to think I did X,Y, Z then let him; it’s no harm to me.
The biggest way to survive the law school gossip mill is to stop it from continuing. If you hear gossip from someone else, keep it to yourself. I’m terrible at this and always want to share what I know. I try to be careful not to tell any other law students about it though so it can’t continue through the law school. If you absolutely need to talk to someone and tell someone what you heard, talk to a non-law school friend and don’t use names. I tell Patrick all kinds of crazy things I hear and he has no idea who did X and who did Y. Quite frankly, he doesn’t care either. If it’s something that can easily be connected back to someone with the limited knowledge Patrick has, I tell Louie. Who is my dog going to tell that Sally went crazy this weekend and did X, Y, and Z and can’t sit for the bar? He can tell cone dog next door, or fluffy white dog across the hall a la 101 Dalmatians, I don’t care.