When it came time to apply to law school, I heard much of the same thing from many different people including, but not limited to: “I bet you watch Law & Order,” “You must really like to argue,” and my personal favorite, “Wow, good luck.” Yet, one of the most popular questions I was plagued with, to my own confusion, was if I saw the movie Legally Blonde. It baffled me to think that real life law school was so constantly compared with a classic, but completely fictional, movie about law school. Although Legally Blonde didn’t get law school completely wrong, I’m ready to address (and debunk) some of the more popular theories with my experiences thus far…
#1: Law students are cutthroat, competitive, and don’t want you in their study group.
FALSE. I vividly remember the scene in Legally Blonde where Elle frantically begged, bribed, and pleaded with various study groups to let her study with them. While I can’t speak for every study group, I’ve only encountered groups of classmates that are more than welcoming —especially when that person is holding a basket full of baked goods.
#2: Law professors are stiff, stuffy, and will kick you out of class.
FALSE. Even I will admit that I had this image of law school professors as being stiff and serious beacons of the law that never cracked a smile. I am happy to report this couldn’t be further from the truth. The professors I’ve had this semester are not only some of the friendliest I have ever met, but they frequently like to make the law something fun and enjoyable (a hard task that they surprisingly, but often, succeed in).
#3: You will be called on in class—out of nowhere—and expected to know the answer.
TRUE. As scary as it sounds, this is not a myth but a hard fact of law school. Law school classes operate on a system of “cold-calling,” meaning a professor has the power to call on you at any time in class and expects you to know the answer. While it’s not a crime to throw out the occasional “I’m unsure,” it’s much better just to stay on top of the assigned work (something your study group will help you out with!).
#4 First year is the hardest year.
TRUE. Despite not even having one semester of law school completely under my belt, I can already tell you this one is very true. Not only have older, well-seasoned students warned me about this, but it’s also common sense. Law school is not like anything you’ve ever experienced. It’s not like that summer internship you had for a few weeks, or your 9-5 cubicle job, or even like the hardest undergraduate course you’ve ever experienced. Law school is a league of it’s own and first year is all about learning the ropes. Look at the bright side though: it can only go up from here!
#5: Like Elle Woods, you can push through and come out on top (and with a job!).
TRUE. You don’t need a fuzzy pink pen, matching notebook and a killer application video to do well in law school. Even with Elle Woods’ disastrous beginning to her 1L year, she still ended the semester with passing grades and even a job. This, too, could be you!
Law school definitely is not the plot of an adored romantic comedy, but it also is not a horror movie. While of course law school ain’t easy, it’s so much more than being completely stressed about class, homework, and finals. If there’s one thing Legally Blonde can teach you, let it be this: even you can succeed as 1L Woods.