Wednesday, April 19, 2006

 

"I read the news today, oh boy, about a lucky man who made the grade..."

“A Day In The Life” is one of my favorite Beatles songs, blending the dark verses of John, the poppy versus of Paul, and orchestration from George Martin (plus a ringing alarm clock!). However, a day in the life of a first year law student is not quite as wonderful. If I had to describe it in three words they would be: frightening, confusing, and overwhelming.

There are basically three different types of “days in the life” of a first semester, first year law student. There are the days in the first week of class. Then there are the days in September and October. Then there are the days in November and December. The three words above, however, basically apply to each and every day.

Looking first to the days just after spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks (which will ruin your back while carrying them around school), you try to figure out where to go and what exactly you’re supposed to be taking from reading all of those books. The first days of class can be very frightening. You will realize that all of your classmates are smart. You will also hear some of them describe just how smart they are by past accomplishments and where they went for undergrad. My experience has been that it really doesn’t matter where people went to undergrad or what their past accomplishment are – usually the hardest workers end up doing the best. So while most of your classmates will be guessing who will be in the prestigious “top 10%,” it is safe to assume that, for the most part, they will be wrong because it is very difficult to figure out just who are the hardest workers. The girl who won the CALI award numerous times first year (the top student in each particular subject) almost never spoke the entire year and was extremely unassuming. But she worked her butt off to understand the material and how to write a good exam answer.

Those first few days of school you will likely read the cases and text assigned. And then re-read it. And maybe even re-read it again. And still not know what’s going on. That is normal. It takes a few weeks to get a feel for what the class is about, what the professor expects, etc. Speaking of professors, there’s some that will try to use the “Socratic Method” of teaching that is discussed in detail in the book “One L.” Basically, the teacher calls on a student randomly and that student will have to answer all of the questions that the teacher poses – either for one case or one topic or potentially the entire class period. If you get those teachers then you better be prepared for class every day. Those classes can be a little nerve-racking, but in the end you’ll find that you know that material very well. Other teachers might just ask for volunteers or let you know ahead of time what people or rows of people are “up” for the next class.

Speaking of class, I need to run to one – but I will continue on my “Day In The Life” of a 1L next blog.

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