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...
Keep Thy Own Counsel
You will learn in school that a person who represents themselves has a fool for a client. While this may, and does, hold true in the courtroom or across the boardroom table, it does not hold true in the classroom or in the quiet reflective moments right before you go to sleep when your darkest fears come a-callin’. It is very easy in law school to get sucked into the vortex of other people’s advice, opinions, successes and failures. There is a constant barrage of new opportunities and challenges (professional and personal), and just walking through the cafeteria on your way outside you’ll hear 14 different takes on how to tackle them. This can all make it very hard to listen to yourself, and to know what you think about things. Avoiding other people’s counsel can also border on arrogance, which lord knows we have plenty of in law school, but if you can walk the fine line of listening, reflecting, and then choosing to ignore or accept, you’ll be in good shape. It is the choosing that is the hard part, because when no one really knows what they are doing, it can be very attractive to just accept blindly everything someone else tells you about grades, about jobs, about life. You have to make sure that you take what they are saying and weigh it against what you know to be true, what you feel in your heart. It is a somewhat intuitive practice, which seems very strange for a logical field like law. But at the end of the day we are all humans, not Vulcans, and logic doesn’t always win out.
This is particularly difficult for me, because I am an obsessor. You’ll find a lot of them in law school, but about a variety of things. For me, I like to analyze and deconstruct and hypothesize and rehash until I think my friends are likely to murder me in my sleep (premeditated, 1st degree- HA! I do remember some Crim Law). It has been a struggle that I lose pretty much every day to just listen to my own inner voice about what I should be doing, and how I should be doing it. It’s not that my friends don’t know what they’re talking about, they absolutely do. But you have to learn to take your own advice and be self-reliant, because an attorney that runs from associate to partner to associate trying to get a head count is not going to have any billable hours for their client. So my New Year’s resolution (a week late- I needed the week to evaluate what would be best) is to keep my own counsel, and try to trust it. It’s like talking to a friend- what advice would you give them? Give the same advice to yourself. Then- and this is the hard part- follow it.
One final note, completely unrelated to the above post: Grades. Grades have barely begun to trickle in, and it is torture. In case you wanted to know, this is what waiting for grades is like:
Waiting for Grade-o: a play in one scene (with apologies to Samuel Beckett)
1L: Nothing to be done.
(Checks computer for grades. Nothing on screen. 3 minute pause)
(Beep from computer. 1L checks it. It is an email from a Nigerian prince asking for help cashing a check. 1L deletes it. Checks for grades again, just to be safe)
1L: I’ll go out.
(1L sits, staring blankly at the computer, not moving. 5 minute pause)
1L: They said they would post them today.
(1L Checks computer again. Flicker of hope crosses face. There is a grade! 1L’s heart races, nerves at a fever pitch.)
(1L experience elation at receiving grade, then immediate depression. This depression is regardless of actual grade, because if it is a good grade 1L invariably believes it was a fluke, or if it was a bad grade, well, it was bad).
1L: Nothing to be done.
(1L checks again, in case grade has changed)
REPEAT FOR 6 WEEKS.