Monday, February 17, 2014

Highlights From My First Semester

By Diane, 1E

Now that I’ve survived my first semester of law school, I’ll take the opportunity to gloss over the highlights of my experience thus far.

Hilarious professors:  Hilarious law professors?  As someone who has fed into all the law school stereotypes out there, I would have thought that that was an oxymoron.  Let’s be honest, law professors aren’t usually known for their ability to make students laugh.  So, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that law professors might actually be, well, hilarious!  Case in point: Torts.  Students squealed with delight as our Torts professor shimmied into the room dressed in costume, assuming the roles of characters from the cases we were studying.  He also busted out with light sabers and Iron Man masks, all in a rather effective attempt to teach us the rules of assault, battery, and a number of other torts.  Well played, Professor, well played.

Good company:  As I had mentioned in a previous entry, making new friends and networking are key to creating an enjoyable law school experience.  My law school friends were the ones who helped me usher in my third decade of life.  And over the winter break, a couple of them drove all the way out to my hometown of Rancho Palos Verdes.  If you’re familiar with the South Bay, you’ll know that my neighborhood is quite the trek from Downtown Los Angeles.  And yet, my law school buddies schlepped all the way out to visit me the day after Christmas.  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.  

Extracurriculars:  While the first year of law school isn’t typically the most ideal year to dive head-on into extracurricular activities, it does provide you with plenty of opportunities to see what’s out there.  As an animal lover, I decided to check out the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) at LLS.  The SALDF organization on campus was hosting a “Cutest Pet” contest, so I of course had to enter my two freakishly adorable dogs, Toby and Teddy.  Shelter mutts represent!  I was surprised to find that the contest became an all-out on-campus war.  I mean, all the contestants were adorable and deserving of a winning title, but this contest became much more than a “cutest pet” contest.  It became a “battle of the sections.”  Let’s just say, sabotage was involved.  But, alas, because my evening section was not on campus often enough to participate (or perhaps we were lacking team spirit—we’ve since improved in that department), my pups did not take home a trophy.  Still, SALDF walked away with $539.43 in donations.  The proceeds went to Haven! CA Inc., a non-profit for animals founded by an LLS alum.  Hey, as long as the animals get to benefit, everyone’s a winner!  

Admissions Q&A Panel:  During finals week, a couple of Jury of Peers bloggers assembled to answer questions from prospective applicants.  I was happy to volunteer—(a) because I remember how helpful the Q&A panel was for me before I decided to apply, and (b) because I do actually have school pride.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my law school experience thus far, and I felt compelled to share those unexpected findings with prospective students.

Exams!  Why am I highlighting exams?  Because exams provide learning experiences that set law students and lawyers apart from the rest.  Normal people do not volunteer to sit through 4-hour+ exams, reading, writing, and typing continuously after having spent countless hours memorizing legal rules.  But law students do it, and they do it together.  Exams build character.  Exams make you realize how weak you are and how much you need to improve.  And you will improve.  You’re not taking out student loans for nothing.

Learning the method to the madness:  Lawyers and professors will tell you, one of the most important courses in law school is the Legal Research & Writing course.  Unfortunately, getting acquainted with legal writing often involves a certain degree of pain for most students.  But you know the saying—no pain, no gain.  Really, when the process begins to click in your mind, as remote as your understanding of it may be, it is such a feeling of accomplishment.  I know I’m just a 1st year whippersnapper—I’m probably jumping the gun here—but over the course of a few months, my feelings about Legal Research and Writing have changed from utter despair to curious optimism.  I feel like there’s an elite club of people out there (lawyers), all capable of succinctly and effectively conveying their opinions, as they pertain to the law.  And I guess it makes me a bit of a weirdo for saying this, but I want admission to that club.  I actually want to learn the method to the madness.  Am I anywhere near “getting it” yet?  No.  But I’m actually excited for that day to come.  

The course material:  I have a feeling my list is getting less and less exciting, so I will end it here.  But it’s true; the course material has been interesting.  I’m not going to lie, some of it put me to sleep, but a good portion of the material I learned my first semester was actually really intriguing.  I don’t even need to watch T.V. anymore—all the drama is right there in my casebooks.

So, there you have it:  the highlights from my first semester of law school.  I apologize if you were expecting something more—the first year is a taxing one, and it does involve a lot of non-exciting drudgery.  Despite that, it was an enjoyable couple of months.  In fact, I was actually a little excited to return after the winter break.  Oh, LLS, what have you done?!    

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