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Back to School Preview: the First Week of Law School

The first day, let alone the first week of any type of school can be daunting for even the most stouthearted of students. Remember when you made the transition from elementary to middle school? You had to ask yourself things like, “Do I ditch the [insert cartoon show here] backpack?” “Will I look silly if I continue wearing shoes that light up when I walk?” “When Adam Sandler said that ‘Peeing your pants is the coolest!’ in Billy Madison, was he telling the truth?” Some of you are no doubt wondering the very same things as you swiftly approach your first week of law school.

Here are your answers. Cartoon backpacks never cease to be cool as long as the cartoon show didn’t originate after 1995. Light up shoes looked silly long before you asked yourself that question. I’ll leave the last one to your instincts. Let me know how it works out.

As for something a bit more concrete, your first week of law school (much like the rest of law school) will involve a lot of reading. In fact, it’s likely you’ll have already done a lot of reading before you even step into the classroom. This is one of the main differences between graduate and undergraduate education. As an undergrad, you can slack off the first week and play catch up without much issue. As a graduate student, you’re already behind before class even starts. My advice is to give yourself plenty of time to read before that first week. It’ll go slow at first. You’ve probably never read caselaw or briefed a case before, so make sure you give yourself a bit of leeway. That way you can take your time and get your study technique down before you try to pick up some speed.

Another thing will happen your first week. Your irrational and seemingly insurmountable fear of your professors will rapidly subside. Generally speaking (and it varies by each school’s academic code), grades are anonymous and professors will only bump up grades for excellent participation (rather than bumping them down for lackluster participation). In other words, when you sit to write your final at the end of the semester, your professors will only see a number on your exam, rather than your name. You can breathe a sigh of relief now. Don’t be afraid to be wrong in class, it’s how you learn. And in law school, the classroom is basically a consequence-free environment in this regard.

Lastly, you’ll probably get pissed off when your more tech-savvy professors turn off the internet connection in your classrooms. Two hours of class seems like an awful lot with only solitaire to keep you occupied and it’s far too obvious if you go on facebook on your phone. If you’re anything like me, you’ll swiftly discover that the LA Times Crossword is free online and can still be used in your web browser even without an internet connection. Best of luck!