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Author Topic: The best advice I ever got about law school, bar none  (Read 6442 times)

Slumdog Lovebutton

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The best advice I ever got about law school, bar none
« on: March 03, 2009, 12:59:08 PM »
I thought I'd share an email a friend sent me after I decided on Columbia, which was (as the title of this thread suggests) the absolute best advice I got about success (academic, social, psychological) in law school:

oh mang. i've got plenty of words of wisdom about law school in general. i guess we can skip the whole "should i go to law school" discussion since you've already made that choice. here's some hints on first year:

(1) At first, it will kind of suck. How hard it sucks depends on your attitude about a variety of things, but overall, I'm not going to lie, it is going to suck to some degree.

(2) You will meet A LOT of crazy people. In the begining, people are still feeling out the situation and don't really know where they fit in. This makes them act weird. After awhile, you'll make friends with some cool people, and you'll also find out that some of the crazy people are actually cool as well. Then again, you'll find other crazy people that are, in fact, f-ing insane. But you won't figure all that out until at least second semester, if not later.

(3) The key to getting through the first semester is to not freak the @#!* out. This is hard to accomplish because a majority of people around you will be freaking out. In that first semester, and even second semester, you'll constantly doubt yourself, and wonder if you're studying enough, because you heard about this girl in another section who is studying, like 30 hours a day and has already written all her outlines, 3 months before finals. Try to keep calm, and keep it all in perspective, which leads me to . . .

(4) Do your own thing and don't worry about what other people are doing. You have no idea what other people are doing, how much they need to study, or whether they're even telling the truth about how much they study. You're going to need to study of course, but study the amount you feel comfortable with to grasp the understanding of stuff. Don't study 12 hours a day just because your roommate is.

The thing about a law school like Columbia is that everyone that is there is used to being at the top of their class. However, everyone knows that this will no longer be the case. And because you all have just started there, and you don't know each other, no one knows where they stack up yet, which just contributes to all sorts of anxiety. You're going to experience it, at least at some point, but you can totally minimize it by just breatihng and keeping it all in perspective. You've done fine in school so far, you'll do fine in law school.

Also, this is why things get much better second semester after first semester grades come out. Plus, you won't freak out about second semester finals as much because you finally know what a law school exam looks like and (hopefully) will know how to take it.

That's about all I can think of for now. Let me know if you have any questions. I really liked Columbia; it can be a great place. Good luck!
* Columbia Law, Class of 2011 *

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Slumdog Lovebutton

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Re: The best advice I ever got about law school, bar none
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2009, 01:00:28 PM »
I'd like to further emphasize that #4 has been my mantra all year.
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,.,.,.;.,.,.

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Re: The best advice I ever got about law school, bar none
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2009, 01:18:53 PM »
I dispute number 2.  I think that, while some people are crazy, they are crazy from a distance.  The closer you get to most people, the more you notice the distinction between sane and crazy break down.  Some "normal" people have strange OCD habits when you live with them, as I discovered with a college roommate, and some "crazy" people are simply not as good at communicating their comparative sanity to others.  I also think that crazy, in a law school context, means that they're fixated on grades and stressed, but everyone is to an extent.

4 is good advice, but extremely hard to follow in the trenches.  I think that the best way to avoid it is by examining your own grades carefully, and study habits.  I have a friend who majored in government and econ and can nail a policy question without listening in class.  I . . . do not have that ability.  So I need to study policy.

I agree that it sucks.  But, again, this depends on your goals and attitude.

Slumdog Lovebutton

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Re: The best advice I ever got about law school, bar none
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2009, 01:48:30 PM »
I dispute number 2.  I think that, while some people are crazy, they are crazy from a distance.  The closer you get to most people, the more you notice the distinction between sane and crazy break down.  Some "normal" people have strange OCD habits when you live with them, as I discovered with a college roommate, and some "crazy" people are simply not as good at communicating their comparative sanity to others.  I also think that crazy, in a law school context, means that they're fixated on grades and stressed, but everyone is to an extent.

4 is good advice, but extremely hard to follow in the trenches.  I think that the best way to avoid it is by examining your own grades carefully, and study habits.  I have a friend who majored in government and econ and can nail a policy question without listening in class.  I . . . do not have that ability.  So I need to study policy.

I agree that it sucks.  But, again, this depends on your goals and attitude.

Haha, I don't see how it's at all possible to dispute number 2, of all things.

BTW, welcome back, Wally.  We missed you.
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just Trev

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Re: The best advice I ever got about law school, bar none
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2009, 02:05:50 PM »
bump for later review.

HavocWreak

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Re: The best advice I ever got about law school, bar none
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2009, 02:40:05 PM »
Itís interesting to see the different reactions. When I come to this board, the operative words are, worried, crazy, freaking out and hard. In the real word everyone says its manageably difficult. I canít wait to see it for myself.

win200

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Re: The best advice I ever got about law school, bar none
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2009, 02:46:36 PM »
I've seen a really divergent range of reactions on this board. I was reading a thread from a Yale 1L taking questions who said his life was largely stress-free (though I realize there are mitigating factors in Yale's case). The impression I've gotten is that it depends on what time during 1L you ask.

Itís interesting to see the different reactions. When I come to this board, the operative words are, worried, crazy, freaking out and hard. In the real word everyone says its manageably difficult. I canít wait to see it for myself.

Slumdog Lovebutton

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Re: The best advice I ever got about law school, bar none
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2009, 02:53:25 PM »
Itís interesting to see the different reactions. When I come to this board, the operative words are, worried, crazy, freaking out and hard. In the real word everyone says its manageably difficult. I canít wait to see it for myself.

I personally felt pretty calm for most of first semester, but I wonder if that's largely a result of my outlook (which was very influenced by reading that email).  I had a lot of spare time and stayed on top of my work.
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HavocWreak

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Re: The best advice I ever got about law school, bar none
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2009, 02:58:56 PM »
Quote
I personally felt pretty calm for most of first semester, but I wonder if that's largely a result of my outlook (which was very influenced by reading that email).  I had a lot of spare time and stayed on top of my work.

I think itís because of your outlook. Iíve met people who were flustered pre-LSAT! I just think, Iím not the first and I will not be the last.

Slumdog Lovebutton

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Re: The best advice I ever got about law school, bar none
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2009, 03:08:05 PM »
Quote
I personally felt pretty calm for most of first semester, but I wonder if that's largely a result of my outlook (which was very influenced by reading that email).  I had a lot of spare time and stayed on top of my work.

I think itís because of your outlook. Iíve met people who were flustered pre-LSAT! I just think, Iím not the first and I will not be the last.

Agreed.  I think it's important to go into law school with the attitude that it won't be that bad.  It helped me a lot to talk to people who were willing to admit that they liked law school :)

The year before 1L, I worked in a job that was pretty tedious, and that helped me enjoy school because I was incredibly aware of how much better it was to be a student than to be in the "real world."  It also helped that my boyfriend was incredibly pro-school...every time I complained to him about a reading assignment, he'd say something like, "Oh, cut it out.  There's nothing better than learning."
* Columbia Law, Class of 2011 *

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