Since I shared Evelyn, Sam, and Carina’s first 8 weeks in law school, I felt like it’d also be good to share my own perspective and experience. I think getting various perspectives is a really good idea if law school is something you’re considering because law school is a HUGE commitment, and its important to make sure you’re making the right decision when and if you decide to attend. With the being said, I think law school is a really rewarding, though difficult, experience. I used to think it was unrealistic when people in law school would say that it should be treated like a 9-5 job. I understood this was a good idea, but I also felt like it was a bit extreme. I was wrong. Treating it like a full time job is important, and taking it way more seriously than any schooling you’ve had previously is vital.
So, anyway, let’s talk about my first two (more like two and a half) months of law school.
On Monday, I took the third of my three midterms, and last week I submitted the ungraded teaching memorandum for legal writing. To say the last few weeks embodied all that makes law school difficult and stressful would be an understatement. Among making outlines, writing and re-writing a discussion section, and staying on top of the reading for each class, I worked seven days a week for two and a half weeks. That’s abnormal for me, usually I try to take a full day off. But alas, I was overcome with a feeling of accomplishment when I finished it all because one thing I wasn’t expecting from law school was that I would wake up most days questioning why I even decided to come to law school. While I enjoy the work, the self-doubt that consumes a lot of law students their first year is a lot more prevalent than I prepared for. I went to a talk on imposter syndrome a few days back, and it really resonated with me. Law students have similar personalities when it comes to academics. Most of us were the top students at our various universities, many worked really interesting jobs for at least a year, and most of us give our academic work 110%. We do all this work, but we can’t escape the ever-present voice in our heads reminding us of the unforgiving curve, reminding us that all this work may not actually be enough if we fall below the mean. It’s a scary thought, and it’s honestly a bit of a culture shock acknowledging that you may not be the A student you once were. BUT THAT’S OKAY.
One thing I love about William and Mary is that all the professors and staff constantly remind us that we’re doing our best, and that we’re just fine. The emphasis that grades aren’t everything is also really helpful. My criminal law professor, before our midterm, told us not to stress and that even though we’ve been here for two months, we still don’t know much, and we’re not expected to know everything. So that’s always helpful in terms of staying sane!
I love the work we do. I love reading cases, and preparing for class, and I get a rush when I do well on a cold call. I feel excited when I get an assignment, and I have a weird amount of fun when I outline. I love synthesizing what we’ve learned, and I love attempting to master the material. I adore most of my classmates, and I like that I’m surrounded by so many driven, smart people because it pushes me to be even better. I want to get more involved in the future, but for now I’m just enjoying this new challenge, and learning to navigate the law school world.
I think the thing that’s been most helpful for me is having a really strong group of friends. I can be so honest about what’s stressing me out, or the overwhelmed feeling of having a midterm, and they totally relate. My friends also stress the importance of having fun outside of the school. Whether we grab lunch at Aroma’s, or go to an event in Colonial Williamsburg, we encourage each other to take a break and get outside and see the world outside the walls of the law school. The books are important, but burning out is real, and it’s important to remember to take a break.
In general, law school is different than I imagined it would be, but that doesn’t mean it’s negative. I love law school, even if I am stressed all the time. But hey, if law school was easy, more people would be lawyers.