Challenges of the 1L Year

By Miranda ’19

If I told you 1L isn’t hard, I would be lying. Throughout 1L you are almost always battling stress, insecurities, competition, frustration and challenges. You may feel overwhelmed, inadequate, overworked and just plain confused. It can be easy to get wrapped up in negativity during 1L. A place with high demands, a new learning system, and extremely intelligent colleagues isn’t something one can process lightly. But trust me when I say that once you learn to listen to yourself over others, a surprising majority of your stress can disappear. You’ll want to learn this lesson before beginning the opportunistic adventure we call 1L.

I’d assume the negativities of law school aren’t new to you. By now you’ve probably googled “Should I go to law school?” and “How hard is law school?” And you’ve paid special attention to the horrors Google finds for you. “No, law school isn’t worth your money or time. You won’t likely get a job today and you’ll have debt.” Or, “Don’t go, if you get an answer wrong during class it’s essentially the end of your academic career.” How about, “People that go to law school are terribly competitive. If you leave your book for five seconds you may come back to find the pages torn out.” Google posts give you the impression that you’re doomed before you even step foot into law school. In fact, because you even have the motive to ask these questions means you’re doomed no matter what you decide.

I started 1L very timid and stressed. I thought I was ready because I had read and heard all of those things. I knew everything Google had to say and I read a pre-law book. Who was better equipped than me? But to be honest, none of that prepared me. During the first few weeks of classes I remember worrying and doubting, just like Google told me I would. It wasn’t until second semester of 1L that I realized I may have prepared myself in the worst way possible. What I told you is true; that law school is stressful, strenuous, competitive, frustrating and overwhelming. But at the end of the day, you control how extreme these feelings can become. And you can really only feel what you believe.

Take a second to think about those encouraging words of wisdom you find on the Internet. What do you know about the source? What exactly is their motive to crush your hopes and dreams in pursuing law school? Hopefully you come to the conclusion that “misery loves company,” and you may never find out why that is.

This is ultimately the best lesson you can learn to prepare yourself for law school. During 1L everyone is in a new place with new goals, new challenges, and new people. You’ll feel lost for a bit. And don’t be fooled, everyone will feel this way. But when it comes time to study, relax, manage your time, evaluate that last assignment, pick an internship, pick classes, to ultimately live your life and plan your future, you have to put yourself in charge. The best thing for you is something only you can decide for yourself. Look at it this way, if someone asks you your favorite color, are you going to ask anyone else what the answer is? Probably not, because only you can figure out the answer.

When I believed everything I read on the Internet about law school, I actually extinguished my ability to enjoy this new adventure with opportunities to learn and grow. Law school isn’t as alienating as the Internet makes it out to be. I’m still not lying when I tell you how difficult it is, but you need to know when to put a period at the end of someone else’s sentence and create a new one.

This time last year I read endless answers to “How should I prepare for law school?” But I didn’t spend nearly enough time asking myself that question, and it followed me. At the beginning of 1L I asked others how they were going to study, looked through my pre-law books for direction, and searched for outside answers to every new challenge. What I should have done is ask myself those questions first. Of course, I’m no expert and I still have a great amount of work to put into my academics. But here’s an honest truth; since I’ve started trusting myself to know what’s best for me and my law school life, I’ve started to see how to get where I want to be with significant less stress than I had at the start of 1L. Now, I decide how I want to study, what my schedule should be, and more importantly when I want to relax. Before you step foot into law school, make sure you know how to place the boundaries between what others think, and what you think. Once you give yourself the privilege to decide what’s best for you, your experience in law school will become much more relaxed and successful.

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