Sunday, August 19, 2007

Dear Incoming 1L's,

As your first day of law school draws near, I thought I'd put together a little list of helpful advice. Who am I to be giving advice, you may be asking? No one. So don't take it if you don't want to. Anyone who has survived their first year, feel free to add to the list, as I'm sure I've left some things out.

As always, in no particular order:

1. 90% of you will not be in the top 10%. Get used to it. You probably will NOT be in the top 10%. Why? Because the numbers say so. I wasn't in the top 10%. I wasn't even close. I still ended up with the only job I wanted. I also know some people who were in the top 10% who still don't have jobs. With this is mind, spend some time focusing on not being an idiot in interviews, and learn how to network. If you want to work at the State's Attorney's office or the Public Defender's office, start clerking there immediately, because they aren't going to care if you're top 10% if you haven't put your time in.

2. You do NOT have to study in a study group. Don't be guilted into thinking that's the only way to study. It's not. It doesn't work for everyone. I fucking hated studying in groups. It ALWAYS made me feel stupid and insecure. Try it. If it works for you, great. If it doesn't, then don't do it! It's your education to do with as you please.

3. The first case that you're going to read in Con Law is probably going to be Marbury v. Madison. It's long. It's boring. And if your professor is anything like mine was, you will spend WAY too long discussing it. Don't let it freak you out. Don't let it confuse you. As a matter of fact, the entire first semester of Con Law is not at all interesting. It's all about the Commerce Clause. Second semester you'll get to talk about things like porn and abortion and gay sex. It's more fun.

4. There are 3 types of law students you don't want to be, so DON'T BE THEM:

- Do NOT be the guy (or girl) who raises his hand all the time asking ridiculous hypotheticals, answering every question, and generally making his presence in the class WAY too well known. That's what we call a gunner. Professors hate you. Students hate you and talk about you behind your back. It will get to a point that every time you raise your hand you will hear people audibly groan around you. Do NOT be this person. Make fun of this person.

- Do NOT be the girl who dresses like a skank every day. I'm not saying you need to wear a cubs t-shirt with your sweats from undergrad, but if you wear high heels, tons of makeup, halter tops and short skirts every day, other women who go to law school with you will make fun of you. Save your nightclub clothes for the nightclub.

- Don't be the person who never reads or shows up for class, and then begs her friends for their notes or outlines at the end of the semester. Your friends will give them to you, but they will resent you and talk about what a slacker you are behind your back. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of outlines given to me by friends, but only because I have given out a lot of outlines as well. It's gotta be reciprocal. And really, your first year you should really be doing your own, anyway.

5. If you are planning on carrying a backpack with wheels, know that everyone who isn't carrying a backpack with wheels finds you annoying. That doesn't mean don't have one. It just means try to keep the fucking thing out of the way of others.

6. Don't have sex with your professors. Actually, that's stupid. Have sex with them if you want. Just don't tell your friends about it, because they WILL talk. It's just too good gossip to be contained. FYI, I did not have sex with any of my professors.

7. Take Business Organizations. Take Secured Transactions. I didn't. When it came time to study for the bar, I REALLY regretted it.

8. If your parents are paying for law school, or you are on a scholarship, or are in any other way NOT going to be saddled with enormous loan debt, keep that little bit of information to yourself. When everyone around you is commiserating about how much debt they have, just nod your head like you're as fucked as they are. If you do not do this, you will be resented openly.

9. On the other hand, if you had to take out loans to pay for law school, SHUT UP ABOUT IT. You're no different than the rest of us. We're all going to be paying back our loans forever, and no one's thrilled about it, but bitching about it non-stop is getting you nowhere.

10. Be in one student organization. Don't be in ten.

11. Don't depend on your Career Services Office to get you a job. They can actually be a barrier to employment.

12. Don't let the competition of law school turn you into an asshole or a liar. You need friends when you graduate. You need friends when you take the bar. You need friends when you're a lawyer.

13. Be excited. Every fucking day, you are going to feel smarter. You're going to learn a new language. In about 6 months you're going to have a conversation with someone about the law, and you're going to take a second and be shocked when you realize that you understood everything that you just said. Enjoy that moment. But don't tell anyone you had it. They'll act like they don't understand.

Good luck. Have fun. Don't be a douchebag.




Brian Cavner said...

Thanks so much for this list. I'm going to be brand-spanking-new 1L in less than a week which means I'm right on the verge of freak out time. I actually wrote a list of resolutions on my own blog (for my later review if I lose focus), but your tip #13 nailed something I had forgotten about. I decided to come to law school because I think the discipline is fascinating and it's easy to get caught up in the "it's hard it sucks it's hell" sentiment that people keep giving. It's nice to get back in touch with why I came in the first place.

Thanks again!

Fannie said...

#14) If your law school has multiple floors, and you are able-bodied, don't be the douchebag who gets into an already-crowded elevator to go DOWN one story. And, let's face it, you could probably use the exercise.

Daisy Duke said...

How about, if you do insist on sitting in the front of the class, come on time. Especially if you have a rolly backpack and you thump it down all the stairs in the lecture hall, and more importantly if you are the Gunner. Because all 3 combined is a deadly combination if you wish to ever make a friend.

BobbyDinKnow! said...

Tied for #1: Don't be the horse's ass who, as soon as the proctor calls time, starts talking about the goddamn test. "Did you see the 4th Amendment issue on question three?! Oh my god, I nailed it!!!" Be a grown-up, go to a bar with your friends, and talk about ANYTHING else. May I suggest Law With Grace or Rashaan Salon as topics?
Tied for #2: Don't be the person who says things like "Yeah, that test was hard...I can't believe I got an A on it!!" One guy sitting behind me said that to his friend just before a test, and if I could have I would have kicked him to death with iron boots.
Tied for #3: Don't be a F****ING child. Forget about rankings, bitching about the workload (let's face it, most of you have never had a challenging job yet), the unfair grading, etc. You put yourself in that chair, and you could be temping, tending bar, and getting bossed around and evaluated by someone you think is a complete idiot. Law school is not that hard. In fact, it's luxurious. Enjoy.
Tied for #4: Please, don't be the blowhard who says things like "I'm sorry, but Scalia is an IDIOT! He makes no sense!!" You know damn well that none of them are idiots (not even Peckham), so don't make yourself into one.

Jax said...

I love it! Just graduated in 06 and couldnt agree more with your advice. My other fav was the guy who always sits next to you b/c you've likely read the material or know how to bullshit. This guy gets called on, then says, "I'd like to defer to my co-counsel" which inevitably ends up being you.

Oh and.. dont be the outline whore. Ya know.. the one who hoards outlines then wont share. Sorry, but if an outline is really that important to you, you're eff-ed anyway. Jackass.

allbilly said...

outstanding post.

I may have overlooked "don't fuck anyone in your section"....cause EVERYONE will know you did...and when you do start praticing and that guy from your section that knows you're THAT girl who got shitfaced at happy hour and sucked his buddies dick in the parking lot at 742 pm ...he'll think of you as "the drunk dicksucker" when he sees you at the courthouse...instead of....that girl that was nice, fun and smart.

Anonymous said...

Bobbydinknow, you are absolutely right about "tied for #1." My ex-wife tells the story about how she took a final in income tax law, and ALL her classmates said, "did you see the Corn Products issue?" (Corn Products was a case, by the way). "I ACED that one. I ruled for the Commissioner!! I can't believe it was that simple!!" And my ex thought (but didn't say), "Ummm ... I SAW the Corn Products issue, but I think the reasoning required you to rule for the taxpayer. Jesus, did I fuck that up? Oh, no!!"

Guess what? She was the only one to get an "A" for that class.

Moral of the story ... after a test, go drinking, or go study for the next one, but shut your mouth.

Jane Know said...

also: it's perfectly acceptable to start chain smoking your first year of law school. and to start drinking before noon. especially during finals week.

Miss Foxy said...

We have that One Girl in my class. She's consistently late, actually telling the professor "hold on a second" while she frantically flips through her book THE FIRST WEEK when it's obvious to everyone A. you did not just tell the professor that and B. you obviously haven't opened the book until now and we hate you for this, and she always comes to class overly made up, overly dressed, and generally obnoxious. If I didn't read, I'd have the time to dress like that too (not that I would).

My whole entire section is full of gunners. But at least they aren't obnoxious about it - yet. Is it so bad if I don't even volunteer?

Motion to open a can of whoop ass said...

This list rocks. I'm a 1L and I sit next to the class gunner. He puts his hand up ALL the time, asks questions just to hear the sound of his own voice and, as soon as the class is over, gallops down to the front of the room to ask whatever question flies out of his arse. He constantly says things to unnerve everyone around him, asking people if they understood some case or rule (that's on the syllabus for three weeks from now). And during my deer-in-the-headlights moment when I was called on in Civ Pro, and I could feel beads of sweat rolling down my burning face, I could hear him groaning "oh, this is such a waste - these questions are too easy." Under what rule can I move to open a can of whoop ass?