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Holiday Gratitude of a Law Student


Ah, what a Thanksgiving weekend it has been. Like most of you, I also hope for a hot wife who will apparently give me BJ’s in the living room and in front of my faux British children, so I spent a good deal of it studying for my rapidly approaching finals. Luckily, I was also able to find some time to reflect on the things I’m thankful for and as a result compiled this special law student list. It’s special since, in anticipation of the holiday season three years from now when I won’t have time for things like family or sleeping, I’ve left off such cliché items. Instead I’ve distilled it down to the three entirely unsentimental things that keep me going in this law school world.


Once upon a time, I ranked highlighters somewhere between pets that ride in purses and Maseratis on my “Things that have the Sole Purpose of Impressing Others” scale. It’s understandable, since 95% of the highlighter usage I witnessed during undergrad fit into this scenario:

Step one: Open Organic Chemistry book.
Step two: Highlight the first sentence of every other paragraph.
Step three: Go across the hall and kill 30 pack of Beast with friends.
Step four: Fail Organic Chemistry Test.
Step five: Take book to professor, cry hysterically, and point out masterful highlighting as evidence of intense studying.

If you were lucky, that F would magically turn into a C. If not, you could repeat the performance with your parents/academic advisor/dean as necessary to show how unfair life truly was.

As a result, I long viewed highlighting as nothing more than a means to make your studying visible for the world. It didn’t help that I was also skeptical that coloring could have any real impact on content retention. So when, prior to September, I heard rumors that highlighting would be all the rage in law school, I braced myself to be disgusted.

Three months later, those rumors have proven nothing but true. I’m still not convinced that the LSAT means anything when it comes to predicting law school performance, but it must be an indicator of a serious highlighter addiction. There are people who have intricate highlighter color coding systems, people who have more yellow lines than white ones on any given page, and people who swear by one particular model and carry around about fifteen of that version, just in case. Yet, instead of being annoyed by it all, something far worse happened. I’ve been converted.

That’s right, I am a full-fledged, variety pack toting, margin marking, can’t study without my particular brand (it’s the perfect hue of muted yellow with a felt tip smoother than a creamsicle) highlighter disciple. Terrible, but true.

I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the fact that I still feel a little naughty writing in a textbook. Maybe it is the satisfaction of drawing a really straight line. Maybe it’s because every time my professor references a passage I’ve highlighted, I want to jump up and shout, “BINGO”. Whatever the reason, I’ve gone 180° on the subject and now those little guys are first and foremost on my law school gratitude list this holiday.

The Internet

So I know that the legal profession predated the Internet. In each of my classes I’ve read cases about things like ox carts and telegraphs, and although I’m awaiting WikiAnswer confirmation that these objects predated the Internet, I’m relatively sure they did. So there must have been a time when law students learned the law without any assistance from the World Wide Web. (Flawed reasoning or not- you decide) But I’ll be damned if I know how they did it.

Now, it’s not the Mama and Papa of Internet purposes, Procrastination and Stalking, which I’m the most thankful for. It’s not even their biological children—Porn and Illegal Downloads. Rather I’m giving my gratitude to their adopted stepchild who has been forced to live under the stairs, Research.

Despite my admitted distaste for the availability of personal information on Lexis and West Law, access to more or less every court case in American history is a pretty sweet deal. And thanks to Google being badass, it’s recently gotten even cheaper to do online legal research. But that wasn’t always the case.

Common sense tells me that law students of yesteryear must have used books to locate necessary cases and whatnot, but when I try to imagine such a scene my brain starts to hurt from processing such foreign ideas. Especially since I can only assume there were limited copies of each book, which would have been a real problem when every single 1L was researching their memo and needed to find the same cases. Nowadays, when we each get our own laptop on which we can look stuff up, my classmates are relatively cordial. But get in the way of their research, and these bitches will f you up. (Once the computer lab printers went down, and I’m pretty sure my school had the riot police on standby.) I can only imagine the catfights that would ensue if our resources were limited by something as absurd as tangible objects.

So, if for no other reason than the added protection of life and limb, I give thanks to that great mass of information in the sky.

My Silver Black Phantom Bike.

Ok, so I don’t exactly have a silver black phantom bike. Yet. Nor do I necessarily know how it would relate to law school if I did. But one day I will. And for that I am preemptively thankful.