Greetings everyone, I apologize for taking so long in between posts. Since you’ve last heard from me I wrapped up my internship in Alabama and moved back up north to Philadelphia to start law school. While I loved my internship and had some interesting adventures in a new place, I couldn’t stop thinking about this new three year journey I was set to begin. Then, all of a sudden, the day arrived and it was time to get to work. Here are my impressions of orientation and the first week of classes.
People tend to make law school out to be this big, scary thing. At the end of the day, it’s just school. It is higher stakes school, with increased expectations, a different grading method, and jobs/careers on the line, but still school nonetheless. We showed up and got our class schedules and advisor assignments just like any regular-old ninth-grader on the first day. The biggest difference between law school and high school you ask? The lunch was much better this week. Only half joking.
Orientation lasted pretty much all day Wednesday and Thursday with a more relaxed day on Friday. We met our teachers and advisors and did workshops on how to adjust to law school. The dean spoke, and an alum who is now a judge came back to give us our professional oath. Overall, not the worst thing in the world. It was slightly annoying having to be there all day, but it was helpful showing up to school and getting a lay of the land before classes started.
At the end of the day, you are who you are. Some people are loud, others are quiet. Some people feed off of social energy, others like doing their own thing. There will be good students and bad students as well as plenty in between.
As far as describing law students in general, I’ll quote the late Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green, “They are who we thought they were.” Nerds. People willing to put as much or more energy into learning about the law as everyone else does working. You are who you are, and it’s crucial to embrace that and continually self assess with brutal honesty. Maybe you’re a super genius who can breeze through law school without having to make any adjustments. I know I’m not. Week 1 of class taught me that.
Wooooo, back to freshman year. I had no say in my class schedule. The school picked my classes, my teachers, and when my classes would meet. I even have an 8:00 class again. This semester I’m taking Torts, Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, Legal Research/Writing and Professional Development.
Torts, Crim Law, and Civ Pro are the big 4 credit classes. Legal Research/Writing is 2.5 credits,but it holds it’s own in terms of work. Professional development is 0.5 credits and pass/fail. That’s 15 credits for those scoring at home.
Law school class is conducted differently than undergrad. Typically, the professor won’t lecture the whole time. A lot of questions are asked by “cold-calling” which is when a teacher randomly calls on a student to contribute to the class discussion. If you are unprepared for a cold call, it looks bad. People stare and snicker to themselves and each other. I don’t know from experience because I went the entire week without being cold-called in any of my classes, but from a distance it wasn’t a good look.
Also, there is way more reading. The first day assignment for one class was half of a novel, plus additional readings from the casebook. Multiply that workload by 4 for an accurate estimate of the amount of work we had before we even stepped in the door. It’s not like we had a summer reading list or months and months to prepare either. They dropped the first day assignment list about a week before orientation.
Overall, there aren’t as many written assignments. Teachers aren’t going around collecting homework on the daily. They expect you to read the material multiple times and really try hard at understanding it. Reading doesn’t really take a ton of time, but going through and briefing the cases and reading more than once does. This is the most homework I’ve ever had in my life.
So far, I’m enjoying the experience. There are a lot of smart and accomplished people here. My professors seem interesting and willing to help. I look forward to getting up and going to school in the morning. I still feel like somehow I ended up right where I’m supposed to be. I know the challenge is going to ramp up, but I’m ready.
Objectives going forward
These are things that I want to work on going forward. College and internships have taught me how important self-assessment is. It is up to you to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and to use that knowledge to your advantage. During my self-assessment I identified the following areas I’d like to work on.
- Reading style.
- Finding time to be creative.
I am striving to become more efficient in all aspects of my life. I am speaking it into existence. Law school takes up a ton of time. Like everyone else, I can’t buy more time. There are only 168 hours in a week and its up to me how I use them. I need to allot enough time to get all my work done, work-out, stay well-rested, and still have a life. Tough, but possible in my opinion. My specific goal for this area is to create a schedule that allows for all those things and to stick to it. Imma be real with yall. I hate schedules. I want to just wake up and do what I feel like doing. But, that’s not going to work here.
My reading took me way too long last week. The school’s rule of thumb is to spend 2-3 hours (trust, some are doing way more) preparing for class per hour you are in class. One day I went to the library to do my torts homework and it took me almost eight hours, which is at least double what it should have. I think it’s because I was taking too many notes. I talked to one of my professors about it and she suggested to just read through the material the first time without writing anything down and then go back and take notes. She told me her profs suggested reading the material three times. I tried just reading through my homework this weekend and it helped tremendously. Glad I asked her. Still working on finding the right balance.
I need to work in more time to write on this blog and make podcasts and stuff like that. I enjoy working on projects and I didn’t make any posts or shows this week. That has to change. Hopefully as I get acclimated and more efficient I’ll have some more time.
So basically, orientation was cool. I made it through week one. I was on time for all my classes and I didn’t make a fool of myself. I identified some things I want to work on and asked for help. Those are all wins in my book. Good week so far. Looking forward to week 2!