Here I am at the beginning of my 8th week of fall semester of law school. I can hardly believe summer quarter flew by so quickly and the semester is nearly half way over.
Class: I am taking four classes, Civil Procedure, Torts, Contracts and Legal Writing. I am in school five days a week. Oh how I adored my four day “work weeks” over the summer. Luckily, all of the 2L/3L students at my school seem to have Fridays off. so there is hope for next year. Of course a week day off would be spent on reading and studying, but I find it’s nice to have an entire week day dedicated to homework rather than breaking the day up with courses.
Out of my courses Civil Procedure is by far the most dense and I spend a good portion of every weekend sipping lattes at a local coffee shop while trying to make a dent in my reading for the next week. My torts professor is full of energy so I am always excited to see how she will approach a subject in class (she brings props like wigs and costumes, it’s really a lot of fun). My contracts professor is intimidating and my legal writing professor doesn’t believe in grading. Overall I would say I have a pretty good mix of teaching methods. I’ve never been someone who dislikes teachers so I can see the benefits of all of their teaching styles.
I still get nervous raising my hand and getting called on in class. In law school the socratic method is a popular style of calling on students. Unlike undergrad simply reading the material for class (or skimming the reading) is not sufficient. It is important to be prepared for any question your instructor may throw your way. I have never liked public speaking… I am working on compiling my thoughts better on the spot so I don’t fumble with my words. However, it is helpful that all of my classes are with the same core group of students, it makes it a lot easier to speak aloud now that I am getting to know everyone in my section. Law school is like high school that way, everyone in my class is becoming a familiar face! Luckily law school feels a lot less catty than my teenage years or I don’t know if I would be so happy.
Reading: When people talk about the immense work load in law school they are referring to the reading. I’ll admit half the work load is lugging around the giant casebooks, a cute tote just won’t work, a backpack is required! I spend a few hours every day reading, I have to or else I will fall behind. Some students divide the week’s reading over the week days to prepare for each class, I try to get as much as possible done on the weekends. I find that after class I am much more stressed when I don’t have the reading for the next day already finished.
The biggest adjustment when it comes to law school reading is accepting the snail speed at which you read. I consider myself a voracious reader. I have been known to plow through novels in a single day! Law school reading is not like reading Harry Potter or even most of my undergrad texts. The reading is dense and detail oriented. You can’t skim or else you might miss something important. In fact, you might miss something important even if you don’t skim. I am constantly pausing to highlight/look up a word I don’t know/take notes/reference a footnote/etc. It’s a good thing I like reading and writing because my reading list is never ending.
Organizations: I mentioned previously that one of the most surprising parts of law school is how much it feels like undergrad. There are a lot of student organizations on campus and everyone (evening students included) seem to be involved in some club or another. Personally, I’ve found it a bit difficult to determine what I should and shouldn’t commit to. I know my academic schedule is the most important but in the process of learning more about the law and making new friends it is tempting to join every single club. I decided to take a board position for the International Refugee Assistance Project at my school, then I also joined a law fraternity, women’s law group and a group focused on women’s reproductive justice. So far most of the organizations aren’t too demanding so I am crossing my fingers hoping it will be sustainable.
Mentoring: While my first year courses were entirely planned out for me, I’ve started thinking about the classes I want to take in fall of 2L and beyond. I want to make the most out of my classes, summer internships and externship opportunities so I decided to start meeting attorneys in Seattle as soon as possible. I’ve attended a few networking events put on by various school organizations and had the opportunity to learn about careers in different fields. I still haven’t determined 100% the exact type of law I want to practice, but after meeting one on one with several attorneys I met at networking events I am starting to form an idea. I look forward to learning more, building stronger mentor relationships and hopefully interning somewhere great this upcoming summer.
Free Time: Despite what people would have you think, it is possible to take time for yourself in law school. I still watch Netflix, grab dinner with a friend and blog. I’ve had to adjust to the constant state of anxiety I feel that had gone away after undergrad graduation-but that is a separate post in itself. As with any academic program, time management is essential. There always, ALWAYS is something I could be doing for law school, but for my own wellness I think it’s important not to let law school eat up every second of my life.
Overall I am so happy with my decision to go to law school. Though I floundered for three years between undergrad and law school it was helpful for me to take time off. I think I appreciate being back in school more since I spent three years figuring out what was right for me. Now it’s time to get my nose back in the books and begin studying for my torts midterm next week. Have a wonderful week, xo!
Thanks for the photos Madeleine Wilson!