Showing Up

As you make your way through law school, there are dozens of small decisions you can make that can change your whole academic or professional trajectory. Do you sign up for a journal? If so, which one? Do you give moot court a shot? Do you go to a certain networking event? Which clinic do you take? Which jobs do you apply for?

With all of the options we have available to us, the importance of the decisions we make can sometimes be lost in the mix of it all. Little did I know, for example, that my decision to apply for a 1L summer internship with the Department of the Interior would steer me towards a focus on environmental law. Nor would I have guessed that my decision to walk into the audition room for the Legal Follies one Thursday afternoon during my 1L fall would turn into one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of law school.

At the time, I had some vague notion that there was a comedy group on campus, and they wrote jokes about law school. I thought it could be fun, so I made the decision to spend my lunch break auditioning. Later, when I received a call offering me a spot on the cast, I made another decision to say yes. A week later, I was on the Follies’ retreat with a group of people that would become my closest friends in law school.

Now it is a month after we took our final bows for the 2018 show, and it is difficult to imagine what law school would have been like without the Legal Follies. What I thought would be an extracurricular activity ended up becoming something of a family, and our baby was the show we put on in February. We were proud of it, sick of it, wanted to show it off, and wanted to get away from it all at the same time. Now this year is in the books, and it’s time to pass the torch to the next generation to take the group to new places. After we hold elections, the next big event for us will be auditions in the fall, and another 1L will be sitting where I was not so long ago, trying to decide whether they should walk into the audition room.

I have a folder on my computer where I’ve kept all the sketches and ideas for sketches I’ve written over the past two and a half years— close to 40 in all, in various stages of development. Some ended up making the annual Follies show, like a poetry slam for law students or a lawyer who needed helium to survive. Others failed to make the cut, like a re-imagination of Colbie Caillat’s song “Falling for You” entitled “Obergefallin’ for You” that celebrated the historic Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (song parodies often sounded better in my head). And then there were some that I didn’t even bother submitting like a sketch where the Bluebook editors argue about various abbreviations and it descends into a very personal debate.

Those nearly forty sketches are dwarfed by the memos and papers and outlines I’ve written for classes over the past two and a half years, and yet those forty sketches may carry with them the strongest memories of my time at law school. Each one represents a time I was among friends, collaborating and (usually) laughing. Some of them even represent failure, with gags that never landed or jokes that fell flat. In most cases, they would lead to feedback from other cast members and the sketch would go in a whole new, and better, direction. In other cases, it was better to just scrap them and move on. More than anything, those forty sketches represent the best decision I made in law school.

I could have easily skipped the audition that day, and I would have gone on with my law school career without thinking much of it. But the beauty of law school is that you can try things out and see how they fit without risking much. I tried my hand at moot court, threw my hat in the ring with journal, shook some hands at networking events. Not all of it was for me, but I am glad I at least tried it out. In the end, it turns out, the best small decision you can make is the decision to show up– you never know where it may lead you.

Post a Comment

Your email address is never shared. Required fields are marked *