I recently had a conversation with a friend who is about to enter the dark trenches of law school. Since I have semi-successfully (depending upon your definition of success) completed my first year of overpriced, legal education, my friend–we’ll call her Darcy–thought I might provide some insight. As most entering 1L classes do, Darcy’s class established a Facebook group so they could chat about things such as the best books to buy, rumors about professors, how to find a non-sketch apartment nearby, and to suggest places to meet for drinks. Here’s where Darcy’s concern started, and I remember the same concern vividly. The most active people in the group seem like real tools. As much as I wanted to reassure my friend that these try-hards are probably cool people and just a little overwhelmed with this major life change, I couldn’t, because most likely, those people really are just tools. This is at least the case until a few bar reviews in, when you stumble upon them drunkenly sobbing in a corner, but even then, they’re still tools–now they’re just intoxicated and vulnerable ones who seem more relatable.
These concerns left Darcy wondering if there would be anyone at orientation who she would even want to converse with, let alone become friends and stress-relief partners with. Darcy is chill, so the only advice I had to give her was, “look for the people who look the most hungover and miserable at orientation. Talk to them. These are your kind of people, your new friends.” Since Darcy isn’t the one who needs the fixing, I decided I’d just provide some pointers to the others on how not to be the person nobody wants to hang out with. You see, eventually, the different sections of your class will combine into one debaucherous mess of stressed out, can’t-find-anymore-shits-to-give, alcohol and Addy-fueled rager. This usually happens once one group from a section accidentally runs into another section at a local bar and everyone realizes common interests do exist. Either that or people hook up across section lines. The gates are open for camaraderie at that point. However, until then, here are some things to take into consideration if you don’t want people to hate you.
Don’t ask too many questions, don’t raise your hand too much, and DON’T BE A GUNNER. Look, I get it–you’ve paid a lot of money to be here. If you have questions, dammit you’re going to get answers. However, you have to realize the other people in the room paid a lot of money to hear the professor’s lecture, not your voice. If you’re a gunner, use your professors’ office hours. But if you want to save someone’s unprepared ass, then by all means, be that savior.
No one cares if anyone in your family is an attorney. This speaks for itself. Unless you’re asked, never start a sentence with, “Well, my dad said…” Starting a sentence with the phrase, “I’ve heard…” is just as effective and way less douchey.
Don’t buy stuff you don’t need. The guy who pulls out a Black’s Law Dictionary mid-lecture is a grade-A gunner (read: not your friend). Have you never heard of Google? Also, with all the heavy-ass, mandatory books you’re forced to carry around, why would you want to add unnecessary shit to that? This also goes for hornbooks and most supplements. I promise that you’ll barely have time to get the mandatory reading done, let alone something supplementary. If you do find yourself needing the extra guidance and understanding, go check it out in the library, or once again, use your professors’ office hours. Those people are sucking you dry as it is, so you might as well reap some benefit without having to schedule a chiropractor’s appointment, too.
Don’t be a narc. If someone signs in then skips out of orientation early, it’s not your business. If someone online shops and peruses social media during class, it’s not your grade she’s affecting, is it? If you think someone has a concerning substance abuse issue (everyone), you should probably just talk to him or her about it yourself. Law school is a small world, and someone will find out who the snitch was. Then your whole class will know you’re not to be trusted.
Don’t freak out. Law school is stressful and mind-beating. It’s meant to break you down when you’re supposed to be thinking on your highest level. However, losing your shit will not help you pass. Calm down, pull the board out of your ass, make some good friends, and try to enjoy the ride, because it’s a long one. One more thing–if you think finals are hard, just wait until bar prep. Talk about a sob fest.
As a famous legal scholar once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Just kidding, one of my fellow degenerate law school friends said that, but same thing. Happy studies, suckers…from this indebted sucker.