Friday, January 8, 2021

What I Wish I Knew As A 1L

Hello again, Jury of Peers! It’s so nice to see you again. This time we’re tacking … duh, duh, DUUH … law school myths! Law school myths run amuck thanks to TV shows and movies and stereotypes. * While some law schools may be cut throat and really psychologically intense, I haven’t found that to be the case at Loyola. Law school, just like most things in life, is much scarier from the outside than the inside.

Instead of running through the myths you might already know, I’ll tell you what I wish I knew going into law school.
  1. You’re not going to learn the “law.”

    Yes, okay, you will learn substantive law but don’t expect to leave law school being able to cite every existing statute. Law school is about learning methodology to create good arguments for your cases. It’s about learning how to think rather than what to remember. 

  2. Organize your class outlines by rules rather than cases.

    I made this mistake my first semester because we talk about specific cases to learn how the rules work, but that doesn’t prepare you to see the big picture of how rules really “work.” Organizing the class by rules allows you to see the big picture first then use specific case law to emphasize exceptions or explanations of that rule. Plus, you won’t be asked to regurgitate case facts on a final, you’ll be asked to pull the rule from the case and apply it to a new set of facts.

  3. Cold Calling can actually be amazing.

    Hear me out. As a 1L, I was so nervous to be cold called. One time, I blanked on the difference between a crossclaim and a counterclaim. I could have sworn the room was dead silent for about a million years. But it exposed that I wasn’t as fast as I should be on certain terminology. And, no one really cared that I messed up because they were just glad they hadn’t gotten called-on for this ridiculously complex Civil Procedure case I got stuck with.

  4. Tab your Bluebook as you find citation rules.

    You’ll understand when the time comes. And you’ll thank me later. Just tab your Bluebook.

  5. You will not get straight A’s and that’s OK.

    Okay, maybe some of you will, but the rationale behind this advice is to temper your expectations about grades. You are really smart and you will be in the room with seventy other really smart people, which means curves are going to be tight and the difference between an A and a B is going minute. Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t keep up that straight-A streak you’ve been on for the last 20 years. 
If I can leave you with anything from this post let it be this: you will make it out of law school even when it seems like there’s no way you’ll be able to do it. I heard an alumnus say at my orientation panel that he struggled all through law school, but without the struggle, he would not be the attorney that he is. If he can do it; if I can do it; then so can you!

See you in the next one,


*Fun Fact: Professor Laurie Levenson consulted on the cinematic masterpiece Legally Blonde so it’s pretty accurate!

**Fun Fact: my sweatshirt is from Etsy!