One week of law school and my mind is already akin to my ass after a serious day of squats - I can function, but barely, and I can’t remember what it’s like not to have to work this hard to get up stairs. Just one foot in front of the other is a mentally exhausting task right now. My brain hurts.
For those of you thinking about going to law school, or those of you who are going to law school, or those of you who don’t ever want to go to law school…………………………………………………. okay, wait, I lost my train of thought because I literally started thinking in the middle of that sentence what elements are required to prove that I am trying to talk to everyone here… and whether my words can be used against me in an incitement case… holy. mother. of something.
Seriously, one week in and this is how my mind is working. I am so preoccupied with taking extra precaution not to touch anyone on MUNI for fear that someone will sue me for battery that I’m not an objective spectator anymore. I haven’t seen anything on MUNI this week that I find funny. That’s a bigfuckingdeal! I’ve written four act plays about what would otherwise be simple nothings on the bus - the way one guy looks at another, the way a woman’s headphones touch the floor - now I’m so busy wondering whether one guy is liable for assault and whether the woman gave effective consent when she put the buds in her ears barring her from any negligence claim. I CAN’T FUNCTION NORMALLY AND I’M SCARED!
One thing that definitely hasn’t changed: The copious amounts of alcohol I consume during any given week. If anything, I’ve found myself saying it’s okay to have another bottle of wine because it’s helping me sit in a chair for six hours reading about donative promises and the effect of the seal on a contract. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s found this excuse to further enable the alcoholic within me - a few of my classmates joined me at a sports bar on Friday for a few hours to watch the Giants lose, then we all went home to study. And I really wouldn’t doubt that we all actually studied.
The fact of the matter is, everything I’m reading is actually highly interesting. The way our law works, how it came to be, and how it’s applied are all concepts I thought I understood but am, for the first time, realizing how involved they really are.
At one point this week I realized that I had had very little information to get me ready for this quite rapid change. Sure, I went to open houses and talked to a bunch of attorneys and knew studying law was like “learning a new language” and that many students meet their future spouses on the first day of school, blah blah blah blah blah. But, I didn’t know what really to expect. So this year I’m going to try to write down the advice I wish I’d gotten as I realize I wish I’d gotten it.
- Choose your seat wisely. Most likely where ever you sit on your first day will be where you sit the rest of the year. If the guy next to you smells on the first day, don’t rule out he won’t smell the rest of the year. Don’t sit close enough to catch spit from the professor, and don’t sit so far back you can’t hear him or see whatever the shit he’s writing on the board says.
- BOOKS ARE FUCKING EXPENSIVE. Whatever the school reports the average student spends on books, add $400 to the first year. As soon as you get the syllabus start looking online to see if you can find the books cheaper (amazon.com; half.com). You can usually buy the books in the school’s bookstore then return them within two weeks, just enough time to receive them in the mail from a 2L in Louisiana. You can rent some books from half.com or the bookstore, but make sure you get a decent one so the markings don’t distract you from how your mind thinks the issue should be resolved.
- This not Legally Blonde. Only a small portion of the guys in your class are going to be hotasamotherfucker, and no one here submitted a video resume to get in. Don’t automatically assume that either 1) You know which of the guys you’re going to get with (hot or not) or 2) The hot girls are dumb. Sometimes the hot guys are all about the Orange County hottie and sometimes they’re down with the dorky thickframedglasses wearing chick from SF who can drink the other bitches under the table. The only thing that really matters (after the first week anyway) is who you can clearly communicate ideas with.
- This is not a dating service. If it were, it’s gotta be the most expensive I’ve ever heard of. You’re here to learn - don’t get caught up trying to find “The One”
- Books are heavy. Use your locker, save your back.
- Your non-law school friends don’t want to hear about law school, but your new law school friends are actually interested in your life outside of law school. Your non-law school friends have your outside life in common, but they won’t understand why you’re complaining about Pennoyer v. Neff and you’ll never be able to explain to them why the court’s holding on personal jurisdiction is important. On the other hand, your new law school friends already have something in common with you as well - your brains hurt. It’s nice to discuss things other than the difference between harm and injury. Don’t guard yourself!
- Workout. Or something. Find something to make you get away from the books.
- Eat breakfast. It’s hard to listen to a professor when your stomach is growling and all you can think about is getting something to eat right after class. Then eating takes up 20 minutes during which you could have been studying. Plus, you’ll spend less money on lunch.
- There’s probably someone who understands less than you do, but don’t get cocky. Even when the guy who volunteered an answer is way off base and isn’t really answering the actual question, don’t think you’re all good. You try to answer it. In front of 70 people. And remember that there’s someone who understands way more than you do!
- This is your life now. You’ll have to give some things up, things that you really love, to focus 100% on the task at hand. You only get one shot, make it count.