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.