I wanted to pop in to share some reflections about my first semester of law school. By now you may be wondering if my experience is like all those movies you see about law school, or the articles you’ve read (or you’re not wondering at all, but are reading anyway, which is perfectly fine too!). In many ways, you’ve watched most aspects of my law school journey so far (applying, choosing a school, etc.). It’s been a crazy time, and it feels good to be done with my first semester. They say this is typically the most difficult semester in terms of getting used to being in law school. I wanted to share the ups and downs and everything in between because it’s been a bit insane getting used to law school. I felt like college was an easier transition, but law schools be an adjustment.
I will say that law school is not necessarily as scary as I though it would be. It’s intimidating, and makes you question yourself, sure. But it’s not The Paper Chase level scary, so I feel blessed for that. My professors were very helpful, and had good intentions. They weren’t out to get us or make us feel dumb, rather they wanted us to start thinking like lawyers, see things differently, and figure out how to be successful.
They emphasized that grades aren’t everything, and I even had a professor cancel class when she discovered we had 3 exams in a week in the middle of the semester. She didn’t want us to be overwhelmed, and that was a lovely thing that I definitely wasn’t expecting. I think the important thing to remember is that law school is very school/community specific. Everyone is going to have a slightly different experience, and that’s something that is similar to undergraduate experiences.
An aspect of law school that I wasn’t necessarily anticipating is the self-doubt that I felt for much of the semester. I’ve always been fairly confident in my abilities, and while I’ve had self-doubt in the academic realm, it’s never been so severe and constant. I wrote a longer post about imposter syndrome if you want to hear more about this.
Another thing I wasn’t anticipating? Having health issues for much of the first part of the semester. Basically, I constantly felt ill, and it affected my social and academic life. Thankfully, I finally made it to a doctor and got some medication, and now I feel great, which makes my focus and level of enthusiasm about law school a lot better! But again, I took a step back from everything (but continued studying as much as I could), and that was really hard. It was also hard not being near my typical support system because I was trying to hide my chronic sick feeling, which made some people annoyed or unable to understand. I probably should have been more open, but the more I talked about it, the more stressed I got, and the worse I felt.
BUT anyway, another thing I did not realize is how much of my drive and motivation comes from my family, and how not being around them was taking a toll on me. When Thanksgiving came, a lot of people were like “oh you’re going to get so much done since you’re not going home,” and they were really optimistic about me being here for break. I think what they were missing, though, is that while they had all seen their families a few times, I had not, and it was starting to make me bitter. It was no ones’ fault, but I started resenting every time someone tried to tell me it was okay I hadn’t seen my family. Honestly, all I really wanted was for someone to say, “yeah, that f***ing sucks.” But I get to fly home tomorrow and I’M SO HAPPY. I think I’m doing okay now, as the homesickness was far worse when I was feeling ill. In all honesty, transferring was getting more and more appealing until I finally started feeling better. I think if anything being away from family forced me to grow up a bit more and become more self-sufficient. I imagine this will only become more true as I stay at William and Mary Law.
Professional level school is much more individual, and not as community driven. While, yes, William and Mary has an amazing community, and is a great place that I love dearly and feel blessed to attend, law school in general is not like undergrad. This is expected, obviously, but I think after leaving Saint Mary’s, which is so close knit and community based, whatever I did or where ever I went afterward would feel a bit less like a community.
Finally, it feels so interesting to actually be on the east coast, a place I’ve wanted to live for about 10 years. I do get what Warner (Legally Blonde) meant when he said, “east coast people are different.” They are. Not in a bad way, they’re just different. So, it’s interesting meeting people from all over the east coast, and learning how different the country is over here, as opposed to California, which is pretty much it’s own haven!
I’m fulfilling a dream, and that feels good. I think law school is hard, but it’s supposed to be hard. It’s a re-training in many ways. Re-training how you think, how you approach issues, how you evaluate the things around you, etc. I’m really enjoying the work. The work is what’s important.
So, now I’m excited to take a break, re-charge, and get back to it come January when I begin Constitutional Law (!!!), Contracts, and Property!