Law school is hard. Really hard. If it wasn’t, they wouldn’t call it “law school.” They’d call it “learn how to trapeze school,” or “learn how to ride a unicycle school,” or maybe “learn how to bake delicious crumpets school.” But it’s none of those phenomenal sounding things. It’s law school, an intractable span of three years in which you’ll discover how little sleep you really need, test the limits of your capacity for stress, and stuff your brain with more than you ever thought it could hold.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Far from it, in fact. Speaking from experience, the pleasant memories far outnumber the unpleasant ones. And on that note, I’d like to address today’s intrepid future-J.D.s and share some of the things you’re bound to miss about law school (or, at least some of the things that I miss most) in hopes that you’ll appreciate this brief but paramount chapter in your life.
1. Living somewhere different
I was born and raised in Texas, but I went to law school in New Hampshire. To be perfectly honest, New England was so foreign to me that I had to look up its exact location on a map. But its distance from my creature comforts is largely responsible for making my law school experience so memorable. If you’re going to school somewhere far from home, take advantage of all the opportunities at your disposal while you can. Many people never have the chance to live somewhere other than their hometowns, so be grateful for your years in law school and explore your new environs with Cousteau-like enthusiasm.
2. Not having a job
Though you might participate in a few internships, externships, clerkships, etc., for the most part, your time in law school is the calm before the storm of your career. That storm isn’t necessarily going to be a Category 5 hurricane—on the contrary, your legal career can be as rewarding as you want it to be—but living the life of a working attorney is far different from living the life of a law school student. Facing your semi-intimidating Torts professor is nothing like facing an honest-to-God judge.
3. Not wearing a suit every day
Sweatpants for your 8 a.m. Con Law class? No big whoop. Sweatpants for court? Career-annihilating faux pas. My pants of choice during the winter months in New England were ski pants, because what better way to spend lunch break than to hit the slopes to get a few runs in between classes? But those sartorially carefree days are long gone.
4. The parties
Law school students know how to work hard and play hard, and it stands to reason: the inordinate number of hours you spend studying necessitates some seriously fun downtime. Happy hour at 2 p.m. after an especially excruciating midterm? Why not. An ‘80s-themed party attended by no one who was born before 1990? Yes, please. And even the most naïve 1L knows that what happens at Barristers’ Ball, stays at Barristers’ Ball.
5. The Socratic method
You may hate it now, but the Socratic method is going to seem like child’s play once you’re out in the real world. One day soon you’ll be wishing that it was a professor calling on you to think on your feet rather than a judge or your opposing counsel. But that’s OK, because the oft-dreaded Socratic method is employed by many a seemingly sadistic law school professor in order to teach you how to confront those very people.
And on that note, you’ll likely miss all of the hypotheticals you’re currently trudging through in law school. For example, if you participate in moot court, it may seem like an all-consuming exercise in futility at the moment, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. Presenting your case in an actual court of law is a far more nail-biting experience—though it shouldn’t be, because if you successfully make your way through law school, you should feel as though you can take on the world (and rightfully so).
7. Having an iron-clad alibi when you cancel plans
Turning down invitations you don’t want to accept will never be easier. “I can’t, I have to study because I’m in law school” is the world’s most perfect excuse. Cherish it while it lasts (and no, “I can’t, I’m busy because I’m a lawyer” won’t work the same way—it’ll just make you sound like a bit of a jerk).
8. Your professors (at least some of them)
You may despise that one Evidence professor who ingratiatingly uses the term “YOLO” more times than a human can reasonably be expected to withstand—and with good reason. It’s inevitable: You aren’t going to click with every single one of your professors. But it’s equally inevitable that you’re going to have a few whose influence lingers with you long after you graduate, and one day, when you’re facing a challenging legal dilemma, you’ll wish you had them at your disposal the way you do now.
9. Being in school and actively learning
There’s something to be said for the way that law school challenges your mind. Yes, being a practicing attorney certainly has its fair share of challenges (perhaps even more than its fair share), but being in school, safely nestled under the tutelage of accomplished academics and legal professionals, surrounded by peers who are just as eager to learn as your are . . . life isn’t going to hand you very many opportunities to experience that kind of synergy.
10. Your friends
Perhaps the one thing I gained from law school that I miss most are the life-long friendships. There is something to be said about getting through the tough times together, and those are the people that you grow closest to. The sad realization is that many of the people you attend law school with will go to all different corners of the country, and the world. Unfortunately, I have lost touch with some of my closest compadres, but there are a select few that will never fade. Cherish your time together and make it memorable.