Time Flies When You’re Dazed and Confused

It recently occurred to me that somehow, I am more than halfway into my first semester of law school. I was sitting outside of a Starbucks at the time (freezing, because surprisingly, living in Florida did not prepare me for temperatures below 65 degrees), watching the leaves fall and thinking about how different life is now from when I was watching the New Year’s ball drop last January. Since then, I’ve managed to graduate from UCF, move from Florida to Massachusetts, and stumble through the beginning of my legal career. I’m not really sure how this all managed to happen in what feels like approximately three weeks, but here I am, and time does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

As we say farewell to Halloween, I can feel the apprehension about what’s to come beginning to take root in my classmates. While it’s true that nobody seems to be looking forward to another snowpocalypse, I’m more talking about exam season looming over us in the distance. Panels on how to properly outline and sessions on how to take a law school exam are persistent reminders that, yes, exams are coming and, yes, it’s time to start preparing. But when it comes to deciding what the best way to prepare for the exams, or for law school in general for that matter, everyone seems to have a different opinion. With advice from 2Ls, 3Ls, faculty, and staff galore, it can be difficult to figure out who has the best ideas.

While I recognize that as a first semester student, I may not be a compendium of knowledge about how to survive law school just yet, there are a few tidbits that I have found helpful and have heard repeated over and over again. Something I get from older students all the time is “Don’t let what everyone else is doing freak you out.” They’re usually talking about study habits, but I’ve also heard this in reference to how well fellow students handle cold calls, how many events and socials they go to, etc. It seems that a common trap to fall into is to start comparing yourself to everyone that’s around you. Cue anxiety and stress when it seems like your classmates are doing twice as much as you are to prepare. Chances are, what they are doing isn’t necessarily what would work best for you, and it’s important to recognize they everyone has their own methods for being successful.

Which leads into the other piece of advice I hear all the time, “Do what you know works for you.” Some of my classmates are coming to school after having worked for several years, and approach their studies with a 9-5 attitude. These classmates are doing fine. Some of my friends are night owls who study all night, and some are the first ones at the law school every morning. They are all doing fine. As a generally laid back person, I have thus far experienced much lower levels of stress than my peers, just because it’s not in my nature to get worked up about things. At first, this created some weird mind game where my lack of stress was beginning to create its own stress and make me doubt myself, because I have to be overwhelmed if I’m doing law school correctly, right?

Ultimately, these two pieces of advice continue to be expressed by nearly all members of the BUSL community, and in practice I completely understand why. As a 1L, I find that I am consistently reminding myself of them, and it really does seem to makes things a little easier. Again, take my advice for what it’s worth. Which is to say, advice coming from someone with approximately two months of experience. At the end of the day, it’s all about what helps you!

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