5 Pieces of Advice From a Recent 1L

A rising 2L was kind enough to submit this piece of advice for everyone heading to Law School. It is both humorous and credited — and much appreciated. Feel free to submit your advice to us at info@spiveyconsulting.com. If it is good, it’ll be on here (…and then up on the top of your resume too).

Five observations from a 1L

#5: There is such a thing as too much chipotle.

Crafty universities have used the free lunch for decades to keep students from rioting over tuition.  Law School is no different, but unlike undergrad, it’s possible to eat your tuition equivalent in free food. In undergrad, there were hoops to jump through for a croissant. I had to be a republican for the hamburgers, a Democrat for the pasta, a born again Christian for the dominos, and a study abroad student for the enchiladas (I tan really well).   Law school takes you by the hand and laughs at your years of wasted effort. Free food will be thrown down your throat; from afternoon lectures and student org meetings to moot courts and third Thursdays.

Like all great things, there is a price. For all the free food ordered, no one thought to diversify between pizza and burritos. My blood was sour cream by the end of the first semester, and pepperoni was my preferred coaster of choice by the end of second semester. If you really want to go a year without paying for food, you can. But such savings comes at the sacrifice of taste buds, and possible diabetes down the road.

#4: Law school is funny?

The legal system has a sense of humor. So do your teachers. Embrace this.  If you take classes too seriously, you will burn out. There are reasons why professional attorneys with years of experience reading mountains of dry case law voluntarily made the choice to become law professors teaching mountains of dry case law. They love the subject because they found a way to see past the letters on the page and tap into the unending current of sarcastic, often self-depreciating humor the legal profession has utilized since the beginning of time. My personal favorite is when judges use puns. They think they are so clever.

#3: Know when to stop.

There is an apt metaphor that was repeated to us ad nausem during orientation. “The first year of law school is like catching a freight train through a straw.” There is a lot of information getting thrown at you. More information than is humanly possible to absorb. Don’t make the mistake of trying, or your head will explode. At times, it seems like teachers are testing you on how well you can adapt in situations where you know nothing, not on what you do know. It’s easy to sit in the library for ten hours, trying to stay on top of the workload. Just accept now you won’t keep up, and it will save you a lot of stress and a lot of time. That doesn’t mean you should blow off reading unless you want to drop out.

#2: You’re going to hear the word promulgate a lot.

Seriously. At first, I didn’t notice until someone pointed it out to me. After that I couldn’t stop hearing it. The word haunted me, stalked me and promulgated itself into every crevice of my law school life. My average textbook chapters contain five promulgates per twenty pages. Judicial opinions average around two. Teachers use promulgate like a comma. The word becomes so entwined in your life that after a while other students start using it in every question. Hit them, hard. I don’t know why lawyers like this word so much, but they do. My DPC record (daily promulgate count) was twenty seven. If you beat my record I won’t be impressed. Just very, very sad.

#1 Jargon is in again.

If you don’t know how to text like a sixteen year old girl, now is the opportunity to learn. Everything in the LS is compounded, simplified, and abrevied. It’s not criminal law. Its crim. Civ pro. Con law can get confusing (there is both constitutional law and contracts). Let me tell you all about mens rea, proximate cause, and how sup. juris. works since the latest SCOTUS ruling. Theres 34(c) and 401(b) and 2-207 (you will hate this rule by the end of law school), the UCC, etc etc.   Think of it like learning a new language while being told to solve complex math problems in that new language at the same time.

There will be times you hear sentences and say sentences that contain no actual English. At first, you will think that this is awesome, but try not to get caught up in the jargon. Lots of gunners make the mistake of only using big, fancy legalese to sound smart and sophisticated. In reality, they sound like talking Latin dictionaries. You want to sound impressive? Talk clearly. It’s much harder to take sophisticated legal concepts and lay them out in plain language then it is to do the opposite.

…Well, there you have it. I don’t have any outlining tips or study secrets. If you want those, read someone else’s list. Just don’t stress out too much trying to figure out how to conquer your first year. The things you know, you know. The things you don’t, you’ll figure out.

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