1L Dispatch: The First Week of Law School

After walking from one side of San Francisco to the other multiple times, pondering my future with every step, I have decided to take the plunge into the new and exciting world of law school. That’s right. I am now a law student at University of California, Hastings College of the Law. What made me decide to buckle down and fly right, forgoing the pleasures of pure academia for a more professional degree? Well, I still dither and plan to pursue a dual degree in English once I have completed the horrid first year of law school, but I decided that a legal education opened way more doors and there are just too many opportunities in the law. So for better or worse, I am at the lowest rung of the legal ladder.

As a lowly 1L , I’ve been cast into the deep end of the pool and am expected to learn to swim (in the metaphorical waters of legal reasoning). Law school was initially designed as a sort of intellectual boot camp, meant to separate the wheat of future litigators from the chaff of wannabes with six-figure salaries in their eyes who don’t have the gears to hack it.

Maybe it isn’t what it used to be in the old days of the Paper Chase, but the Socratic method is alive and well. I was called on during the first 10 minutes of my first class. I had done the reading, but I wasn’t %100 sure what I was being asked and so had to hem and haw my way through an answer. While I fared slightly better than Miss South Carolina, it was hardly my most shining moment. There were others who gave smoother replies to the law professor’s queries, and in a certain sense they are my new blood-enemies who must be crushed and driven before me so that I may hear the lamentation of their women. That’s another new aspect of life in law school: the pervasive spirit of competition. Hastings is not as cutthroat as some other law schools out there, but there is a very real sense in every class that I am competing against the other students in the room. It’s all part of the legal education.

The reading is intense, in degree if not in quantity. I am forced to wade through old cases written in a prose style designed more to display the author’s acumen with arcane legalistic jargon than for ease of reading. There are also some tortuous winding applications of logic that require concentration to follow. It’s not the kind of reading you can do while watching the Colbert Report. The reading is heavy, both in the subject matter and the physical weight of the books. But I’m getting a handle on it.

(photo by Jessie Nix)(photo by: Jessie Nix)

Missteps and heavy reading aside, I’m adapting fairly well to the new situation. The classrooms of higher learning are like a second home to me and I will always adapt to them. One week down, too many more to go…

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