I am currently in week 8 of my 3-year stint in law school. I’m still fresh blood, a total greenhorn. I didn’t really have any expectations when I started this journey…I just knew it would inevitably result in a baptism by fire. Turns out, I wasn’t too far off the mark. It has already been an extremely stressful, anxiety-ridden, whirlwind of a semester, and we’re just now hitting midterms. I haven’t been in school long, but I’ve already learned a few important things.
1. Nobody cares who you are.
Law school professors love seating charts. They print out these giant sheets with our ID photos on them, arranged ever-so-carefully to mirror where we sit every day of class. Each day, we get cold-called. That means that some unlucky son of a bitch is going to get called out by name during class and will have to answer a series of confusing and ambiguous questions until the professor is done humiliating them in front of the rest of us. You’d think a professor would remember you after they call on you three times in one week to answer questions regarding negligence in Torts, but no. They still have to check the seating chart to figure out your name every time you raise your hand. It is truly an humbling experience. None of your professors know who you are. They don’t care. They’re too busy hosting symposiums and writing articles for law review journals. If they saw you lying in a dumpster in the street, they would probably keep walking. They have no legal obligation to acknowledge your existence.
2. You are not special.
Oh, you took honors classes in undergrad? So did 80% of the class. You studied abroad in Beijing and assisted in research for a case study in international relations? Yeah, so did that one guy in Section 3. None of that matters. Professors still think you’re an idiot. Your classmates probably think you’re an idiot. Everyone is an idiot. Especially that one kid who’s never prepared for class.
3. Being the loudest person in the room doesn’t make you the smartest.
Many people apply for law school because “they like to argue.” Any student who has been in law school for longer than two weeks knows that that poor chump is in for a rude awakening. These loud-mouthed and arrogant individuals come to law school thinking they already know everything there is to know. These people are irritating, but fortunately, they also provide some high-quality entertainment. Professors enjoy knocking this particular type of student down a few notches. You’ll watch them crash and burn when cold-called in class. You’ll laugh inside, because it’s not you. You’ll cry inside, because at some point, it probably will be.
4. Insomnia is a real thing.
Imagine this: you’ve slept 7 hours in the past two nights. You’re using your brain at full-capacity for over 12 hours a day. You barely eat. You shower every once in awhile. Your mother has probably called for someone to do a welfare-check on you. You’re so exhausted that your eyes are crossing. You finally get to bed, close your peepers…and don’t fall asleep. Your brain just won’t shut off. You’re rolling around, yanking your sheets and blankets in a very passive aggressive fashion. You count sheep. Do some breathing exercises you saw on a Youtube video one time. Nothing works. Now imagine that this goes on until 5 a.m. At some point after that, your brain either explodes or shuts down, I’m not sure which, but you fall unconscious for three hours. You wake up feeling like hammered dog shit. This repeats every night, for eternity.
5. It is possible to go 2+ weeks without doing laundry.
I never thought I would be the person to go to my professional school dressed in a Rangers cap, an oversized Comfort Colors t-shirt from undergrad, and a pair of lululemon tights, but guess what? I am. My laundry hamper overfloweth. I have neither the time nor motivation to come home in the evenings and tend to my domestic chores after 9 hours spent locked in a classroom or library. I would rather sport my 2012 Grateful Dead Delta Tau Delta paint swap t-shirt to my Constitutional Law class than waste an entire precious day doing laundry. I didn’t wear underwear to school three times last week. This is my reality.
6. It’s okay to go 4 days without washing your hair if you use dry shampoo.
Honestly, everyone else is doing it, so why not? At this point, it’s become a competition to see who can go the longest without washing their hair. Gross? Maybe, but you’d probably never notice anyway. We came here to learn, not to impress. Half the school is wearing ill-fitting skirt suits and sweating through their slacks, while the other half is wearing athleisure and Adidas. If it comes down to choosing between sleep and my appearance? Well, there’s probably a Snapchat filter for that.
7. Always sit through that informational “Lunch and Learn” if it means you’re getting free food
Being a student means you’re still poor. It means saving your pennies during the week so you can get those ice cold pitchers of Bud Light for $5.99 at O’Connell’s on Friday night. It means scoping out the free food everywhere and anywhere it’s offered. I don’t think I’ve been to a grocery store in about a month and a half. Interested in multinational corporations and international law? Me neither! But they’re serving free food today, so get your ass in there and enjoy the only palatable food you’ve had since the last lunch meeting you attended! These meetings are the only things keeping you alive now.
8. You will quickly earn a reputation if you’re not cautious.
My law school isn’t that big, and the college town I live in certainly isn’t massive. Everyone frequents the same bars every single weekend and hangs out with the same crowds. It doesn’t take long to find out who slept with who, who got the F in contracts, and who wound up going to Suger’s amateur night last weekend when they got a little bombed. Word spreads quickly, and the group texts are blowing up with all the hottest gossip. Maybe have your hookup sign a NDA next time.
9. Law school does not make you any more “adult” than you were in undergrad.
I had no idea that 25-year-olds could be as disgusting as the heathens I ran with in undergrad, until I started law school. It’s safe to say that the black cloud of student-loan debt that hangs above our heads takes us to a very dark place every weekend. The first year of law school is demanding. It’s soul-crushing. The weekends are the only fleeting moments where responsibilities can be forgotten for a few hours. I’m all-in for having a good time and knocking back some cold ones, but these people go 0-100, real quick. For the first time in my life, I seriously cannot keep up. I’ve witnessed classmates vomiting in public places, falling down in bars, and attempting drunken fights. It’s just like undergrad, except now the hangovers last three days. Oh, and make sure that you never get arrested if you have any hopes of a professional career one day. Better call that Uber, pal.
10. Don’t be an asshole.
People are prone to forget this golden rule. It’s all fine and dandy to get drunk and yell at your classmates, but after three years and a bar exam, those same classmates are going to be the people sending you your clients. Don’t be that asshole who made a fool out of themselves at Law Prom and became a walking pariah. Nobody likes the condescending jerk in class, or the guy who has to have the last word. You won’t get invited to happy hour at Chimy’s, and you won’t get to share outlines with everyone else come finals. Everybody just find their chill and be cool.
What more is there to learn at this fine institution? I’m just trying to get that “Esq.” after my name on my business cards..
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