What I Learned in my First Year of Law School

It's been quite a while since my last post (over a year!), but I decided to pop back to this little blog to give it a facelift (new logo,  overall design, and sidebar options) and share a few pieces of wisdom since I'm nearing the halfway mark of my law school career! 

I didn't think it was possible for a person to grow this much in such a short amount of time, but here we are. I'm sharing a list of lessons that I learned in my first year of law school for both selfish and unselfish reasons: 1) to remind myself how far I've come, and hopefully 2) to inspire others that are thinking of going to law school, but might be worried it will be too hard. In addition to torts, civil procedure, and so many other types of law, here is what I learned during my 1L year.

A photo of me and my sweet friends at the 1L champagne toast on the steps after our fall finals last year!

Some things are more important than grades.
When you catch yourself sobbing uncontrollably in the dentist chair because he told you that you've got a cavity, you might need to evaluate your real stressors (yes, this happened). Finding time to do anything other than studying or reading for class might seem like an impossibility, but your body and brain will thank you for squeezing in that workout or the extra hour of sleep. I especially enjoyed spin classes and weekly bible studies during my first year of law school.

It's okay to keep your head down sometimes.
You're in law school to learn, so that should be your first priority. It can be hard to tell people no, especially when you really want to say yes, but if they're really your friends, they'll understand you aren't blowing them off. I only went home a few times during my first semester and had to spend a lot of time studying on the weekends when friends went to football games, beach vacations, and concerts without me. My best advice is to let yourself have one day or night on the weekend where you do absolutely nothing related to school so that you don't go crazy.

It can be rewarding to put yourself out there. 
Building new friendships from scratch can be tough and intimidating. Don't underestimate the power of a smile and a "Good morning" to the person who happens to be sitting next to you in class. As terrifying as it can be for introverts like me, walking up to someone's table in the library with a simple greeting like, "Hey, I'm in your *insert class name here*. Mind if I sit here?" is all it takes to plant those little friendship seeds. Before you know it, you'll be making lunch plans and hanging out all the time.

Asking questions in class does not mean you're dumb and your professors are there to help.
When I first started law school, I hated asking questions because I felt like I was the only person feeling completely lost. I felt like I would be wasting everyone's time if I asked questions and caused the professors to slow down or repeat themselves. My dad changed my mindset on that a bit; he made it clear that students pay to learn at universities. Students are what keep the professors' checks coming, and that means students are somewhat entitled to ask questions, either in class or in office hours. In some ways, we're the boss and if we don't understand something, we should not feel bad taking up a professor's time in order to fully understand a concept.

You are your own biggest competition. 
Law school can be a somewhat competitive environment, even at schools like LSU that aren't known for being competitive. It's just the nature of the beast. There are horror stories of students stealing books or sending fake outlines, but that rarely happens. What's more likely to happen? Grades coming back after finals (because remember, only one essay test per class) and realizing that you've gone from getting straight A's your whole life to being average. There's nothing wrong with that, and once you wrap your head around the idea that your grades are not your worth, you'll be fine.

"Fake It 'til You Make It" actually works. 
I grew up as a really shy kid. I was quiet and had a soft voice, especially compared to the rowdier neighborhood kids. Unfortunately, law school isn't the easiest place for quiet shy kids to thrive. There are presentations to be done, interviews for summer jobs, and competitions to prepare you for real life; it's not the place to be quiet. Good preparation is the best way to fight nerves, but I've also found that power posing really helps me get into a strong, confident mindset. If you haven't seen the Ted Talk, you need to watch it asap!

I'm trying to stay motivated and upbeat, but the truth is law school is tough. It can chew you up and spit you out, but it's also a ton of fun. I'm getting close to the end of my Fall 2L semester, which means almost halfway to the JD! A mixture of procrastination and restlessness led me back to writing in this blog. While I can't guarantee more frequent posts (finals are three weeks away), I'm hoping to get back into a more regular posting schedule in the future.

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