I turned in my Civil Procedure exam at 11:07 this morning, and with that final keystroke my first exam period came to an end. It’s been kind of a rough patch, but I soldiered on. The hardest part about the whole thing wasn’t the re-reading of old cases, or the outlining of the courses, or even the exams themselves. The hardest part for me was maintaining the right mindset and keeping myself from freaking the fuck out. For the last three weeks I have been walking around in a state of low-grade panic that never seemed to let up. When I wasn’t studying, I felt guilty and worried that I was wasting time. When I was studying, I felt like I wasn’t studying hard enough, or efficiently enough.
Part of that comes from the way law school is designed. Once upon a time, they let pretty much everyone in. Admissions standards used to be much lower, and they would use the first semester to weed out the non-hackers who don’t have the gears to make it in the world of legal education. The rise of the LSAT and massive numbers of would-be lawyers have made the bar to get in that much higher, but the schools still have to separate the wheat from the chaff. And thanks to the competitive nature of law school, it doesn’t really matter how good you do. It only matters how much better or worse you do compared to your classmates. There are only so many As to go around, and we must fight over them in an intellectual deathmatch.
The good news is that I can put the whole thing out of my mind for the next month or so, until the exams are graded. I have a stack of marvel omnibi that are calling my name, and the “to be read” pile for my pleasure books has grown alarmingly tall. I am heading to Portland for a time, where I shall sample the local beers and reacquaint myself with the good life for a while before returning to the toil of the 1L.