by Andrew ’16
In the months leading up to law school, many “law students to-be” engage in vast amounts of research about what it is like to be in “law school.” Luckily there are various websites that happily pander to the inquisitive future 1L. Using their imagination and a little information, a future law student can create an image of how the unknown may turn out.
Before I started law school, I spent most of my time wondering about the classrooms and methods of teaching. You read books like “The Paper Chase” or “1L” and come away with the idea that a law classroom is an awful place, where blood pressures run high and confidence runs low. Physically, I imagined a cold room lit harshly with fluorescent bulbs, an angry professor glued to a lectern at the front, and insults fired at students. The famed Socratic Method that law school is known for seemed like a form of torture used to punish hapless newbies. I am happy to report that I have seen none of those manifestations. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
The physical classrooms at NUSL are large. Some of them have floor to ceiling windows, and most have lightly colored walls and large adjustable chairs. The professors sometimes use a lectern, but they rarely stay there long enough to be glued to it. Instead they walk about the room, making eye contact with the students and engaging in conversation. They talk back and forth with students and work to analyze and understand questions as they relate to the comprehension of legal issues. That is the Socratic Method as I have experienced it at NUSL. It isn’t scary, really. It isn’t torture. It is just a dialogue. What is more, every time I leave a class I realize how much I am learning. Sure, there are often more questions than answers, but that is just a part of the process.
As it turns out, the things that I was nervous about before coming to law school are the things I created by conjecture. As with any other new experience, it just takes a little time to get accustomed to things. This doesn’t mean that law school is not challenging, because it is. But it is also everything I hoped it would be.