With the exception of undergrad, the first day of school just gets more miserable as we get older. In undergrad, the first week of school was basically just finding the building and getting a syllabus. This is something law schools should start doing. But, instead, they choose to be difficult. Now that you’re in post-graduate, it’s homework before you even know where the classroom is. Syllabus week has been left behind, along with going out five nights a week, Scantron only exams, and people who are impressed when you say you’re going to law school.
The first day of 1L is the worst. I was petrified my first day as a 1L. I had no friends. I knew only the people in my assigned study group. I had no idea what to expect from my classes, professors, or classmates. I wore a dark-colored shirt because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself with bright colors and get called on. There were statutes in the back of my textbooks that I didn’t know were there until class started and the professor cold-called someone about them. Not a good start. In a nutshell, I had no idea what I was doing. And that’s more or less the best thing about 1L — you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s also the worst thing about it.
The beginning of 2L is apathetic with a side of mild interest and a few raised eyebrows. Most law schools separate their 1L class into different sections during the first year, so the beginning of 2L is often the first time anyone has had a class with someone from the another section. You get to play, “is that person a transfer or someone from the other section?” with the friends you shared a section with. It provides a new opportunity to people watch and maybe make friends and in general not pay much attention, because your “core” required classes are usually fairly dull, something you knew going into them. The best part about the start of 2L is that you’re not a 1L anymore; the worst part is that you still have another two years of law school to suffer through.
The onset of 3L is marked by an attitude of resignation to your fate. It’s the beginning of the end. At this point you know where things are, you’ve got a pretty good idea about what to expect from professors, and you know what you can get away with. The biggest unknown is the seating arrangement in any given classroom. Will this professor refuse to allow anyone to sit in the back seat? How early do you have to arrive to sit with your friends in a space that will hold all of you and is not the front row? If you’ve learned nothing else by now, you know arriving less than 15 minutes early on seating chart day is basically arriving late. The worst part about the first day of 3L is that it forces you to realize that you are still in school — and it’s law school, and at this point you’ve had at least 19 “first days” prior to this one. Unless you skipped a grade, in which case please put your hand down and take your seat in the front row where you belong.
Whichever situation you found yourself in a few weeks ago, welcome (back) to the grind. Before we know it, it’ll be finals time again. And that’s miserable for all of us.
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