About a month into this semester, a classmate told me he “almost wished he could do law school again.” Cue my wide eyes and partially-dropped jaw. At the time, we were less than four months from our law school graduation. As a class, we have spent the last five semesters commiserating together, and I don’t know a single soul who ever indicated an interest to spend another five semesters together.
He was quick to defend himself, as law students typically are. It turned out that he was essentially suggesting a law school perversion of the old, “if I knew then what I know now” saying. Now that he knows what he knows about law school, professors, classes, and himself, he almost wishes he could do it again with that knowledge. Almost.
And my eyes got just a little bit wider and my jaw dropped just a little bit more when I realized I almost felt the same. Almost. The more I thought about what he said, the more it made sense.
In my final semester, I have finally determined what works for me and what doesn’t; and it’s taken me the last five semesters to learn. I know how to take the best notes in the right styles to be a useful tool. I know what studying tips and tricks and techniques work for me. I know what my best pre-exam and in-exam routines are. I have mastered the arts of escaping and evading and avoiding even the most persistent of post-exam-dissectors. In a nutshell, I’ve finally unfolded what works best for me.
Each semester, my various processes altered in some capacity. Call it learning from my mistakes and the mistakes of others, if you want. No law school semester is complete without at least one hard and/or painful lesson. But if you ask my transcript, each semester has been some kind of improvement over the one before it (not that it matters much; grades are more or less cemented after 1L).
I’ve finally got a handle on how to cater exams to professors, how to get old outlines and – more importantly – how to get the good ones, and how to make the most of an insufferably dull 75 minute class period I have no interest in. I’ve figured out which classes to read for, which classes to skim for, and which classes to not even bother buying a textbook for.
Maybe I was slow to coming to those realizations. Maybe I’m behind the learning curve here. But as my law school experience draws to a close, I find myself feeling like I have all of this wisdom to impart, this information to dispense, like I am some kind of overlooked font of knowledge.
The real plot twist hit me at the end of this of realizations. Knowing now what I knew then and what I know now and how I could have done so many things so differently (and theoretically done them better), if there was some way to impart this information on 1L me, would it have mattered? Would it have made a difference? If I could tell myself then all the things I know now, would I even have listened? Or would I have thought, like I am so often so guilty of, that I know myself and what’s best for me, and disregarded the instruction?
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