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When You Get to Law School, DON’T Hang Out with Law Students

When You Get to Law School, DON’T Hang Out with Law Students
Guest poster Alex Davis talks about his experiences as a law student at UCLA.
It’s no secret that law school (and your first year in particular) is a black hole for free time, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the advent of Lolcats. If you’ve gotten all your applications in (and you should have by now), you’re perilously close to flushing all your waking hours into the stygian abyss known affectionately as “1L year.”

In a scant eight months or so, you’ll be reading tales of hairy hands, exposed electrical wires and learning how to “think like a lawyer.” You’ll also be surrounded by a bunch of people doing the same, firmly convinced that their grasp of the concept of strict liability is absolutely essential to their future success. Even though it seems like you’ll be so consumed with studying that you won’t even have time to be a screw-up, trust me, it’s possible.

I was lucky. I went to law school at UCLA. I was also an undergrad at UCLA. I’ve lived in Los Angeles or Santa Monica my entire life. I could stay conscientiously away from the law school “community” since I already had a group of good friends. My sanity remained intact. If you’re new in town, you’re not so lucky. You need people to hang out with and since you rarely see the outside of a carrel in the law library, your default friends are other law students.

Bad move. It may be soothing to commiserate over a mountain of reading, but if you stay around law students all the time you’ll be convinced that your level of self-worth is intimately tethered to your GPA. You’ll think it’s impossible to study enough. You’ll start outlining before you even know what an outline is.

You need some people in your life around whom you don’t have to be a law student. You need to escape a world whose mantra is something along the lines of “study, study, study, drink, study, study, study, drink.” You need to get outside of the f*%king library! While you’ll be cautioned against developing a hobby of any sort (lest you spend time doing something besides reading) I highly recommend you find an activity you love that involves other people. People who DON’T go to law school.

These are the people with whom you need to become friends. These are the people who will aid you in maintaining your extremely fragile sanity. These are the people who will rightfully slap you in your 1L face for making a joke about Justice Cardozo’s yoda-like prose (backwards his sentences run). So go to cooking classes, join an amateur table tennis league, take up fencing. Whatever you do, get the hell away from law school (and law students) once in a while.