Simply put, law school teaches you about the law. It teaches you how to formulate legal arguments by utilizing the legal principles you’ve already learned. Law professors instruct you on how to write legal memos, how to interview clients, and how to brief a case. However, law school does not teach you about the single greatest asset you need to be a lawyer.
Being a good lawyer means understanding and practicing self-reflection of your experiences and abilities. Being a good lawyer means being able to evaluate yourself with the same critical eye that you would the legal merits of any case. Looking back on my time in law school and my growth since arriving on campus, I’ve learned some very valuable lessons and would like to share them.
First, and most importantly, Elle Woods’ Dad was wrong. Law school is not for people who are “boring and ugly and serious.” UConn Law is an institution filled with some of the most accomplished, intelligent, and motivated people I have ever encountered. Many classmates manage full time jobs, spouses, children, and multiple classes each semester. Another added bonus at UConn Law has been the innate beauty of my classmates. Not only are we a particularly good-looking campus (I mean, all you really need is a mirror to confirm this fact), but I’m constantly reminded of the kindness of my peers. Whether it’s taking the time to send a friend their outline for Legal Profession, chipping in to help with an Admissions Open House on a Saturday morning, or helping your friends learn Constitutional Law before an exam, my peers are sincerely wonderful people.
Second, law school teaches you a lot about yourself and life generally. We all came to law school as an accomplished group. Regardless of where we came from, we were all used to being “the best” at what we did. Whether it was being the kid with the best book report in fifth grade or an important decision maker on the front lines of Fallujah, we all worked hard to get to UConn Law. However, law school taught us that we all couldn’t be “the best.” This information was tough for me to swallow and resulted in lots of tears. Once I got over the tears, I started to realize that my tears didn’t make me weak or less able to accomplish my goals; it just meant that I was admitting that I was human, and not a machine.
Third, being involved in the community of a law school is essential to your success in law school and beyond. Involving yourself in the life and community of a law school provides you with invaluable connections with your professors, administrators, and peers. Having a focus on your community is good because your classmates are going to be your colleagues. They will also be your adversaries in court. So, it’s essential not to upset them during law school with any gunner tendencies you may have and to make sure you do the same.
Fourth, and finally, maintaining your relationships outside of law school is essential to helping you keep perspective. Having friends and family who have no idea what the acronyms SBA, IRAC, and OCI stand for is crucial for your survival in law school. They help keep us grounded in the reality that even without these feathers in our caps, we’ve already done a lot just by earning our J.D.
I wish you all the best in your future endeavors, and as Elle Woods said at the end of Legally Blonde, “We did it!”