Student Post: The Secret to Success

by Cory ’16

Ah, we’re at the point in the semester, or the year rather, when everyone is stressed, classes are at their peak of conceptual difficulty, and the weather is less than ideal (this morning was the first in months in which I did not need to wear a hat to cover my ears from the cold). It’s no one’s fondest time period, but it’s a necessary one. We just returned from spring break – yes, we get a glorious, much-needed spring break at NUSL – and everyone is now biting at the bit for summer to be here. But first, we have to earn it.

And earn it we shall. I’ve blogged previously about the LSSC program at NUSL. I’ve also blogged about the social justice projects that are part of the program – each law office has a client, that client faces a problem, the law office helps find legal solutions to said problem. At this point in the semester, we are wrapping up these projects. Sub-groups are working day and night to complete the substantive arguments and analysis for the white papers that the law offices will submit to their respective clients, some totaling more than a whopping 100 pages. Others are hurriedly working on citing and fact-checking. More still are editing the entire document, developing visuals or completing any last-minute research. With the project due in a matter of days, the heat is on.

Of course, with such a push toward completing this gargantuan of a project by the deadline, students are stressed, anxious and sleep-deprived. At moments, the energy of the 1L class can feel both burdensome and euphoric – burdened at the thought of how much work is left to do, but euphoric at the thought of how bright the light is at the end of this long and winding tunnel. In these moments, it’s easy to lose sight of the “whys” of law school. Each student has his own reasons for enrolling in law school – including the desire to save the world, oneself or others, or the hope that law school will lead to a better job or better career path – yet no “why” is safe. Inevitably, when sleep deprivation, stress and the realization that you have to balance multiple deadlines with multiple workloads all hit simultaneously, it’s easy to become flooded with self-doubt. Suddenly, the “whys” of law school take a turn for the worse, and hopeful, visionary reasons to endure the trials law school change more to “why am I here?” and “why did I choose to put myself through this?” It’s not an easy time.

Here’s the secret – and I will share this with you, Prospective Student, as well as any current student whose “whys” have recently shifted: Law school is not easy, and life in general can be hard. When it rains, it pours. When it snows, it blizzards… but if it snows hard enough, we get a snow day. Sure, NUSL is academically rigorous and students are asked of a lot, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. After all, we made it this far – in life and in law school – so we must keep trudging on. We must keep batting away until finally we feel like we hit a home run, not because we want the glory or the recognition of scoring, but because we need to feel like we belong on the team. But therein lies the secret: if home runs were easy, everyone would be a baseball player. If law school was easy, everyone would be a lawyer. It’s in the challenge of law school that holds the encouragement to continue onward. Ultimately, you cannot choose to go to law school for anyone other than yourself. By that same token, you can’t spell “you” without your “why.” So don’t lose sight of what brought you to law school in the first place, because it is what will push you onward to the finish line of this project.

… As I step down from my soapbox, I can hear fellow 1Ls chatting about their social justice project. In the thick of it all, it seems like this project and all of the anxiety may never end, but then I am reminded from yet another 1L that “this too shall pass,” and summer will be here soon enough. In all its glory. With the warmth of the sun that is much deserved and hard earned. It will be in that moment that we all realize the work now is worth it.

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