Back To Law School ~ Part 3

Hopefully those of you reading along are enjoying this series. Maybe you've even gotten a few helpful hints or tips.

Some of you might be in the Boston area for the first time, so you're probably just getting to know the city. Take some time to walk around and see the sights.

Whatever city you're in, law school is a great time to fall in love with a new place. Take an hour or two to check out a new neighborhood. Find a new cafe or bakery and treat yourself to a cup of coffee. You can even do some reading.

Many of you go to law school straight from college, but there are also many like me, who worked for several years between college and law school. When you're in college, it's a lot easier to make friends.

As you get older, it becomes a bit more difficult and you get out of the habit. Recently, I've seen more articles about the process of making friends as adults. Law school throws you in with a bunch of people all going through the same difficult experience, so it's a good way to make friends.

Which brings us back to our interviews. If you're catching up with the series midstream, I asked some very creative people, who all happen to have law degrees, the same question. “What advice would you give to a current law student going back to school?”

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Tama Matsuoka Wong, Corporate Attorney turned Forager/Author 
Wong's recent book is Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients In Your Backyard.

1. Your legal training and practice give you wonderful skills that can help you across a broad spectrum of endeavors later in your life. Analytical reasoning helps you cut through the "information noise" to determine what opinions and propositions are sound and well founded. Understanding the principles of governance and conceptual categorization, as well as the ability to write and speak well and persuasively are critical elements to your success both as a lawyer and otherwise. Specific laws and rules can be memorized later but it is these skills that will stay with you.

2. Don't forget to retain balance in your life. Law school studies can be incredibly demanding but even a few hours on the weekend to volunteer, engage in a passion, attend a lecture or event outside the law is so important. Being successful is also about finding things to do that you are inspired by and meeting and collaborating with people that also believe in these things.

Stephanie, The Baking Barrister

Law students, no matter what year, need to do what's right for them and remember not to compare themselves to their classmates.

As a 1L, you'll see people with 5 highlighters and scores of notes. They'll claim that they've done all the reading and fully understand everything. They'll be in a study group for every class. Ignore them. If you've successfully studied with a pen and margin-notes, continue to do so. If you don't work well in study groups, don't join one. If your classmates say they're doing great, they're full of crap and may be drowning in a different class.

The same goes for 2L and 3L students. Take the classes you want to take. Don't write onto law review if you don't want to. Apply for the jobs that will make you happy. Ignore everyone else who has a job lined up when you don't -- you are not alone.

And one last bit of advice -- ask for help. Whether you need help from the administration, your professors or a psychiatrist, ask for it. A mature person recognizes when she needs assistance.

Adam Roberts
, The Amateur Gourmet
Roberts' book, Secrets of the Best Chefs: Recipes, Techniques, and Tricks from America's Greatest Cooks, is available for pre-order and he'll be announcing book tour dates soon.

If you're excited about being a lawyer, by all means, focus as much as you can back in school. But if you're at all like I was, and eager to start a career as a food writer while still in law school, begin your food blog as a 2L. I have more tips here in my post: How To Fake Your Way Through Law School While Secretly Becoming A Food Writer.

Michelle Fabio, Bleeding Espresso, World Nutella Day, Personal Statement Artist
Fabio's book, The Art of the Law School Personal Statement is now available for sale.

(1) Stay in your own lane. The other day I saw a panicked tweet from a law school *applicant* worried she was going to have to somehow become super-competitive in order to succeed in law school. I told her to just worry about what she is doing and not what everyone else is doing (or wants you to believe they're doing). It's so important to establish your own study habits and schedule; do what works for you, period.

(2) Learn how to write a law school exam. Because law school grades generally come from one exam per course per semester, you need to learn how to write a great law school exam answer as soon as possible, as in before you take your first semester exams. Several books and websites out there discuss this, so it's not hard to find pointers. After your first semester, if you're not happy with your results, ask professors to go over your exams with you so you can learn what you did wrong.

(3) You're already in the legal profession; act like it. Your professors, fellow law students, attorneys in clinics, etc., will be your lawyerly colleagues soon enough, and everything you do in law school (inside and outside the classroom) will follow you quite possibly for your entire career. Be smart about how you present yourself to others from the get-go, i.e., professional and courteous, not immature and cut-throat, is the way to go.

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If you're catching up on this series, take a look at Part 1 and Part 2.

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SharleneT said…
This is such a great series and, hopefully, people are taking it to heart. And, it applies to going back to any kind of continuing education. It's not the time to get lax and forget that you are always being viewed as a professional and it really affects your networking. I think it's also important to add that family and friends need to respect what you're doing and also present themselves in the best light when they attend your functions.
It shouldn't be necessary but I have seen people lose business because their significant others chose to appear black-tie functions in their Levis and sneakers and hooded jackets because it wasn't their function. It doesn't matter, you're going to be talked about.
Come visit when you can tear yourself away from the books.
Lisa Johnson said…
sharlene - Thank you! Great point about getting the support from family and friends. So true!

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