02 August 2016

Starting My Second Year of Law School

I still have a couple more weeks before the daily grind starts up again, but I've been thinking a lot about school as it looms in my future.  Last year the journey from no plans whatsoever for the future to actually starting law school was so short that I scarcely had time to digest.  I found out that I got into law school within two weeks of orientation starting.  While some of my colleagues had known for months that they were going and their parents had purchased them "how to survive law school" guides, mine just kind of handed me a credit card to buy what I needed.  I kind of liked my journey better because there wasn't time for second-guessing or worrying.  I just did.

Going back to school in your late 20s is definitely different from going straight out of college at 22.  Granted, I had gone to grad school, so there wasn't this huge lapse of time from one to the other.  And fortunately, I had taken a year off between my last bit of school and going to law school.  I think that year saved my life in many ways.  I had time to think and do and experience.

I firmly believe that there is a huge transformation that occurs around the age of 25 or 26.  I look back and feel like I was a completely different person one day--for the better.  It's like a switch got flipped and suddenly a lot of the concerns I had, the drama I fed into, no longer mattered.  It was like I suddenly became more chill in a lot of ways, tending to view minor setbacks as OK in the larger picture.  The important thing was the way forward--not the details.  My friend and I actually chanted that Cs get degrees before taking our criminal law final.  Because that's true.  (Granted, you need to strive to do your best, but when you're in your late 20s, you tend to have other things going on outside of school that are important, so you realize that while school is important, other things are more important)

And I feel like that chill attitude helped me immensely in starting and adapting to law school.

Your first year is so much adapting to new demands and new ways of thinking.  I was able to see that really quickly.

I have no idea what your second year is supposed to do to you.  And that's OK.

They say that whatever way you studied as an undergrad will no longer work in law school.  I agree and I disagree.  I think everyone develops some foundational habits and methods for how they collect, store, and process information.  Everyone is different and that's OK.  But you have to adapt those methods to the demands of law school.  Being willing to try new things is also good and important.

For instance--my first semester, none of my professors allowed us to type our notes.  The second semester, all but one of them allowed you to have laptops in class.  Many times during that first semester, I wished that I had been able to type because I type pretty fast.  In the spring, I brought my laptop each day.  Not 100% sure that that was the best thing because the laptop has its own set of distractions--Facebook, iMessage, etc.  And some of the classes are really boring and sometimes you don't have very engaging professors.  I'm one who just doesn't deal well with being bored, even when my grade really depends on my paying attention.  So...

I think this year, I will be doing a lot of handwriting my notes because I think I retain the information better that way.  Then I'll type them up in outline form as I go.  Last year, I'd wait until the end of the semester to make a feeble attempt at outlining.  The grand outline never really helped me.  What would help was outlining an outline.  Those condensed versions, stripped of the fat were super helpful because I was able to memorize those verbatim, but also remember some of the fat on top.
I also learned that notecards really don't work for me.  Also, that's OK.

Really--"And that's OK" is my theme for law school.

I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my degree.  I still don't know.  I definitely want to pass the bar and a pay my dues so that I can practice...but I'm not sure that I want practice to be my full-time job.  I think a law degree can help so much in opening your own business.

We'll see what happens during this second year.  It's scary to think that by December I will officially be halfway through with law school.

I want to keep making time for the people and things I love, while digesting the information better than I did my first year.  It might be smart to read up on the topics I took last year to try to make some sense of what the hell that was all about.  :)  But we'll see what I have the time, energy, and inclination for.