Life as a Lowly 1L
For those 1Ls actually reading this and everyone else who chortles at our feeble existence, we dive headfirst into the next chapter of our story, 1L 2: The Sequel. We happy few who conquered the daunting peak of last semester, have more to look forward to this spring than ever before. For a quick rundown, we have a new slate of classes, two more memos, an oral argument, journal competition, Thirsty Thursdays, Mock Trial, your Aunt’s second wedding, finding a summer job, Moot Court, and most importantly the NFL playoffs. I tried describing all this mounting distress to a professor, he told me to “quit whining” and “please focus on the case we are discussing.”
I pondered my prof’s statement and thought about whether or not we 1Ls are just whining. My Professor saw my puzzled expression, looked around the rest of the class, and then realized that he hates his job. Just kidding. But I did ponder, and I decided to try and put some perspective on the trials and tribulations that lurk ahead this semester. Is it a lot? Yes. Is it impossible? Probably. Can you do absolutely everything well while still maintaining a social life and inner happiness? Only if you have a secret twin to split your life with like Christian Bale from The Prestige (Sorry for any spoilers but the
movie has been out for four years).
I considered ways to research how to accomplish everything while remaining un-stressed, and my recent Lexis research trainings did not help. I realized there might be some good materials and literature in different departments of the school for me to look through. This, however, seemed like a lot of work, so I went through the time tested method of bothering some upperclassmen while they tried to eat lunch, and making the rest up. The results are a few simple rules and strategies for not only surviving this semester, but taming it like an unruly bull.
DON’T PANIC about finding a summer job. This is currently the Number One stress of other 1Ls. Yes, the uncertainty is bad, and we all want a good internship, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. We are going to work for free, someone will want free worker bees to lick envelopes and watch lawyers work for a summer. If you are someone who needs a paid internship, please resume your panic now.
Get some sleep. Seriously though, the scheduling gods see fit to laugh, at least at my section, and I am sure the rest of you don’t have anything better. Nothing says “exhausted” like stumbling to Friday morning classes after Bar Review, on top of getting no sleep all week. As if you need any more reason, sleep makes you more attractive to the opposite sex, and all the cool kids are doing it. Maybe I made that last part up.
Don’t stress about the competitions. All of the competitions should be fun and interesting. Or so the biased board members tell us. The scary part is, they may be right. Just follow Uncle Jack’s plan for stress free Mock Trial/Moot Court: 1) Don’t try hard or prepare. You will be speaking publicly, and it will look more natural if you wing it; and 2) put in a request with the board of the appropriate competition to face my team. It is that easy. In all seriousness, this should be an interesting learning process. Don’t worry yourself over it. Grades are more important. On that note...
Stop freaking out about grades. They’re going to come out soon enough. You can’t change them, it’s over. Some of you say “Well I need them to apply for jobs.” To that I say: Bad News: Once the employers see our grades, they won’t hire us anyway. Truth hurts. I have addressed this problem by not applying for any jobs, so that when my grades come out, my applications won’t be instantly denied. Good News: If you earned good grades last semester, keep trucking. If you didn’t you have five semesters to bring your grades up. Also, try to convince the high achievers that the law is not for them and they should drop out to pursue their dreams.
Always keep perspective. No matter what happens, we are all (relatively) capable people who have some form of higher education. If all goes to hell, the stress gets to you, or you just don’t enjoy law school, you can still get a regular (read: probably not as well paying) job and be just fine. Whenever you despair, just think of the American classic The Grapes of Wrath, where thousands of families had to uproot their lives and struggle against all odds just to survive. Law school may be the most difficult thing we have ever faced, but in the scheme of things, don’t forget that it is less The Grapes of Wrath and more The Raisins of Mild Frustration.