So, Spring Break wasn’t much of a break, since I and six of my colleagues were working with the Mississippi Center for Justice on the Gulf Coast. However, it was incredibly energizing and exciting in that “fire in your belly” sort of way. It reminded me of why I had come to law school, and showed me that helping people with a law degree really is possible.
Remember the feeling you had the last week of school before graduation when you were a high school senior? At my school, we all took our finals earlier in the month, so we had literally nothing to do, or if we did, we didn’t care. I believe they call it senioritis. Anyway, that’s the feeling that is wafting through the 1Ls classrooms on this, the week before Spring Break. And understandably so. Last week we had our 18 page appellate brief first submission due, and it was a doozie.
I have literally no idea what the undergrads that live below me are doing right now. It sounds like a steel cage match in which one of the participants is a dead orangutan, and the other may or may not be a giant steamer trunk. They are making the walls shake, and I am beginning to fear the house might fall down around me- it is, after all, over two CENTURIES old.
Yesterday morning I stood up in front of a room full of my peers and was able to say “Mr. Chief Justice, I have a question.” It was awesome.
The days are just flying by here at Roger Williams University School of Law. Already we are firmly in our second month back, and already I am starting to feel a wee bit overwhelmed. It was supposed to get easier, folks. We have a semester under our belts. It was supposed to be old hat by now. I was supposed to have all the answers and be exceedingly, obnoxiously, almost irrationally intelligent.
I have several things I want to share with you in this post, so we’re going to go with my ever-popular list format:
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.
As I sit here in Miami Beach, typing with one hand and a Mojito in another, I find it hard to believe I just finished my first semester of law school. The snow covered harbor of Bristol, RI seems so very far away, and as well it should. I needed this break; we all needed this break. This has definitely been the most rigorous semester of my life, but also one of the happiest. I’ve made great new friends, had countless interesting conversations, and more than my fair share of fun (some other 1L is out there going “where is my share of fun? Ms. Furst must have taken it...!").
They don’t tell you this, but studying hurts. It seems unreasonable, that sitting in a chair staring at a book, or a computer for 16 hours a day could leave you sore and achy, but it does. My back hurts, my neck hurts, my face hurts. I’ve been grinding my teeth so hard I think I chipped one, and my eyesight has definitely worsened in the past few weeks. I find it difficult to sit up straight, so accustomed is my body to hunching over some writing/ reading device. I have begun to forget what day it is. I cannot wait for finals to be over.
If I had to sum up the necessary traits for successful exam prep in one word, it would be “stamina”. 4 exams spread out over 3 weeks doesn’t sound hard, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It is in this time that you are committing everything to memory, practicing your exam answers, updating (or, in some cases, creating) your outline, and generally trying to cram into your brain everything you’ve learned in the last four months, to be regurgitated back into a 3 hour exam. We had our first exam for Criminal Law on Thursday, and it was exhausting.