Slaughter your fattest calf, and let's have a party. See
, Bar Review.
Time to study up on your good book, be it Luke
, Buddhist parable
, or Gilbert's
The halls of Boalt ring with the laughter and chatter of a new school year (now three weeks old, alas!). Fear not, fair 1Ls, such boisterousness will be thoroughly expunged from your rapidly decaying souls by fly-back week. The good news: the rate of decay of your soul tends to decelerate moderately as it approaches zero. So if you make it through year one, there is a good chance you could still escape law school with some shadow of a soul left! Not a life, mind you, but a soul.
Random asides aside, I'll take this opportunity to wish a very warm welcome to the Boalt Hall 1 Ls (think "fires of hell" warm)! A warm, and dry, welcome as well to our guests from New Orleans, that wonderful modern-day Sodom. And while I'm at it, welcome as well to all of the returning 2Ls and 3Ls.
Since I'd rather be blogging than doing the million other things I have to do tonight, I thought I'd offer a few unsolicited, inexpert, possibly quite misleading words of advice to the 1Ls (all five of you who read this blog) and any 2 or 3Ls who are inclined to take life/study advice from someone wholly unqualified to give it. Enough with the build-up, on to the "substance" (if advice so airy and vague can be said to have substance), in pithy "talking point" format:
"Think outside the box": I've heard it said that "prisoners learn to love their cages" -- a phrase used to explain the fears that inmates often have when faced with imminent release (fears which sometimes cause them to commit silly crimes prior to or upon release). Well, the same thing can be said for law students. The biggest mistake you can make in law school is to spend too much time in your cell. Sorry, you still have to do your reading. But budget your time such that you have plenty of time to meet your classmates, and -- arguably more importantly -- that you have time to cultivate a life outside of the confines of Boalt Hall. While your classmates are a tremendous group of people -- your best support group during some trying times -- you will be really, really glad to have non-law school friends, both during law school and especially as your release date approaches. Make non-law school friends, and keep them.
"We're not going to play the blame game": No, we're really not. Your academic successes or failures at law school, as in life, depend on no one but yourself. Especially at finals or OCIP, people can get very wrapped up in the seemingly "competitive" aspects of law school. It would be foolish to suggest that parts of law school (exams, OCI, CLR write-on, etc.) AREN'T competitive. But I think you'll be a lot happier if you can put that aside, focus on crafting your own goals and ambitions, and not let yourself get caught up in how or what everyone else is doing.
"There's no silver bullet": Everybody wants to know how to succeed in law school. Me too. Especially first-year, law school is a trial-and-error process (no pun intended, I swear). It might be useful to sound out your senior law school friends, but their advice might not work for you. Spend as much time as you can early on figuring out what DOES work for you, in terms of reading and briefing cases, taking notes in class, and approaching exam-type questions.
"It's a front-loaded process": all of law school, it seems, is a front-loaded process. Major life decisions must be made or are made for you in the first 12 months of law school. People aren't joking when they say that your first-year grades are really important. Do well in your first year, and you are in a much better position fall semester second year when you are looking for jobs. (1Ls exhale: grades AREN'T everything. But doing well academically will make a lot of doors down the line easier to open, so in the aggregate, I am comfortable putting forward this simple if potentially stress-inducing advice). Well beyond grades, law school is a front-loaded process, and the sooner you can define your goals and the steps you need to take to make them happen, the better off you'll be. This means thinking about what kind of job you'd eventually like to have in the spring of first year. This means reaching out to faculty who you might be interested in working with during your first year.
"Just chill": this may seem contradictory to all that I've written above, but it's really not. Good stress- and time-management skills are probably the two most useful things you'll learn in law school. If you manage your stress and time well (perhaps by following the foregoing kernels of wisdom!), there is no reason that you can't be reasonably chill most of the time at school. And this will make you a more pleasant classmate, which will in turn make your classmates more relaxed as well. It's a virtuous cycle, see. When everyone pulls their weight on this front, Boalt is truly the most pleasant law school experience that I can imagine.
Update: my purpose, just to be clear, is not to create some definitive list of advice. I pretty much wrote these items down as they came into my head. I invite discussion of my recommendations and additional words of wisdom from others. That said, I'm not going to debate their merits, as I really don't have any more time to devote to this and I recognize that others can have equally valid reasons for offering advice that runs counter to my own. See
"There's no silver bullet").
Labels: 0L/1L Advice