WHAT LAW SCHOOL IS LIKE
- •First year atmosphereEveryone is wary and hesitant to open up. Partially because of the curve, and partially because a lot of people have lives outside of school and weren't necessarily there to make new friends. After a few months of superficial interactions, it took me being sleep deprived/loopy to open up my weird side to @klrosenb and bond over tv show affiliations. That said, after people settled in, I made some really amazing friends. It helped that my class largely lacks stereotypical law school assholes.
- •Middle school pt. IIOnce people start to warm up to each other (read: get drunk together a few times), law school starts feeling a lot like middle school. But with more sex, drugs, and alcohol. A few similarities: everyone has lockers, all your classes are with the same group of people, and most importantly, gossip about relationships/hook ups. Again, because I had a pretty great class, the gossip/drama remained pretty scant.
- •The curveIn the abstract, I knew law school would be graded on a curve. But I was completely unprepared for its implications. There's something cruel about forcing people to spend hours together every day for months, only to pit them against each other at the end of the semester. Rankings based on your peer's performance breeds paranoia and enforces the idea that you really can never study enough.
- •First year classesAs a product and proponent of liberal arts education, I'm interested in theoretical underpinnings and social context. As such, I was disappointed by most of my first year classes, where the focus was on positive description of existing legal doctrine, and not so much on normative critique. One of my biggest frustrations was that despite being ostensibly geared toward practicing law, these course are all but useless in terms of real world lawyering.
- •Employment pressureIt's immense. Even if you don't intend on entering the corporate/big law world, first year of law school has a way of changing your mind. It's touted as the pinnacle of legal employment. It doesn't help that the realities of massive debt made finding a high paying job all the more urgent.
- •On campus interviewsIf you go the big law route, there is a week (right before second year classes start) where firms will come to campus and conduct tons of interviews. This is the way the vast majority of hiring for big firms is conducted. Based largely on your first year GPA and the pedigree of your school, you will potentially be offered a summer clerkship that almost definitely will result in post graduation employment. The stakes are high. One of the most stressful weeks of my life.
- •Second year classesCourses got more interesting because I'd gotten most of the requirements out of the way. I was fortunate to have my job hunt end early in the year. This was probably the single greatest relief of stress. Focus in this year tends to shift to extracurricular activities, like being on a journal or writing and publishing a note (the name of a legal research paper). Exams became less more routine, and the general motivation to excel went waaaaay down.
- •Third yearMy experience is atypical because I'm studying abroad. But if you've completed a summer internship and gotten an offer for post-graduate employment, your third year grades don't matter. Some people get more involved in their journals or take a clinic, but I haven't. Law school turns into a bit of a social and academic bubble, so this time abroad has given me a chance to step out and meets tons of new people and indulge my travel fantasies. I can't think of a better way to spend a 3L semester.