My name is Hala Furst, and I am a 3L. Before coming to Roger Williams I received a BA in Theatre Arts at the University of Minnesota. In the three years between graduating from college and arriving here in Bristol, RI, I worked as a hotel concierge for a luxury brand, a loan officer and mortgage...
Fun in the Fishbowl
Some days at Roger Williams University School of Law feel a little bit like a return to high school. We have a cafeteria, there are sections, and everyone knows everyone, meaning teachers and your peers. I will be honest, if you want to be anonymous and feel like a number, then RWU is not the school for you. For the most part it is pretty funny, the comparisons with high school, mostly because we are all pretty smart and somewhat geeky in our own little ways, and we’re all over the age of majority. So as easy as it would be to fall into the habit of caring about popularity and who is dating who, etc. if you just shake yourself and remember you are (for the most part) in your mid to late twenties, it will all be ok. These are the days when I envy the people at school who are older students, who have families and responsibilities to go home to. I know that they have their own struggles, but I’m pretty sure being annoyed about who tagged you on facebook isn’t one of them. So somedays you succumb to gossiping in the Caf, and some days you go and pay your electric bill before it almost gets shut off. Such is the life of a student who is also an adult.
There is one important thing to remember about this whole fishbowl feeling, though, and that is that you are adults, going to a professional school. In the smallest state in the United States. In the smallest town I personally have ever lived in. Why do I mention this? Because you are going to see these people again, I promise. No matter how much you hate the kid in class that perpetually sticks his hand in the air and scoffs as though the rest of the class are all idiots for not knowing the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure governing llama farming, I guarantee you he will be opposing counsel some day, or a co-partner in your firm, or, heaven forbid, a judge you have to argue in front of. That person you really want to hook up with at the next party? That potential mistake won’t just follow you around for a weekend, it might follow you for the rest of your professional career in RI. And that picture you thought would never make it onto MySpace for all of your fellow students and teachers to see? It will. Don’t you worry. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t want the Dean to see it, don’t take a picture of it.
I’m not trying to scare you, I’m just trying to prove the point that this is a small school in a small state, and it is the only law school here. So, using your powers of logical inference, that means that many of you will be practicing in this state. And people don’t just forget what you were like in school when you pass the bar, good or bad. So be nice to people, because you may someday need them to be nice to you. Oh, and, because it’s friendly, or something. This is what law school begins to teach you to do: weigh the pros and cons. You have to do that; this isn’t college, where for a lot of people it was possible to function of 2 hours of sleep per night and be up the next day to party like a rock star all over again. This is thinking that hurts, and you want to be on your a-game when Professor Teitz calls on you in Civ Pro, or when the Dean is expecting you to decipher a Torts case. So you have to weigh the fun of making some seemingly innocent mistakes with the potential that they could be known to those around you for some time to come. Attorneys are a conservative (not politically) lot by nature, and it is because every move is calculated to cost them the least and gain them the most. If the practice of law begins in law school, that means we have to think that way too. It’s not an easy transition, but it is one that I think will pay off in the long run. Pros and Cons.