Monday, October 02, 2006


I'd love to be able to write one of those posts about How to Succeed in Law School. Sadly, I don't know what to tell you. I don't know whether I'm succeeding or not — at least not by any measure that other people are likely to care about — and I probably won't know until grades come out early next year. But I am learning some things about how to survive law school without having a meltdown. Of course, it goes without saying that what works for me might not work for others.

Learning to get less sleep has been key. I've been an eight-hours-a-night girl for a few years now, and since being here I've whittled that down to about six and a half or seven. I've tried less and not been able to focus at all, and more doesn't seem to be an option. I also get up at the same time every morning during the week, no matter whether or not I have an early class. I think that helps me be more alert. Similarly, it's been important for me to figure out what time of day I can do what sort of work. I can read in the afternoons, but I can really only write in the morning (good to know when memo time rolls around).

Finding friends who don't gossip has also been extremely helpful. I have a couple of friends with whom I only talk about my own business and theirs, and I know that no topic is off-limits and what we say goes absolutely nowhere. I never would have imagined that there would be anywhere near this much gossip here. I've had things I said repeated back to me after being passed down a chain of three or four people. Definitely worse than high school. And I've learned, whenever possible, to keep my nose out of other people's business. Sure, there's some amount of mediating we have to do to keep the peace (considering everyone's sky-high stress levels), but other than that, it pays to keep to myself. I'm still working on actually doing that.

Also, I need to spend time outside every day. Walking to and from the car does not qualify. Even if that means walking in the rain, or studying out in the garden, I need to do it. I'm lucky to live in a place when the weather is almost never too bad to be outside, and I need to take advantage of that. The law school building is very nice, with wide hallways and high ceilings, but fluorescent light and recycled air get to be a drag very quickly — like, within a few hours.

One tactic that I've hit on that's surprised me is that it works better for me to do a week's reading at a time for each class, whenever possible. Four days' worth of civ pro may take hours to get through, but I focus on the material better and it makes more sense in context. Also, then I get the psychological boost of not having any civ pro to read for the rest of the week. The tricky bit is setting aside a large enough block of time to do this, but I think it's worth it for me.

The last, and most important, thing I've learned here is this: life is much better when I manage to relax. If something isn't working, I should try something else, but it doesn't make sense to stick to a regime that's making me miserable, or try to make a whole bunch of radical changes all at once. It also doesn't help when I start worrying about all the things I need to do today. If I just take the first step and accomplish one thing, usually the rest falls into place.

I swear the next thing I post will be light-hearted and irreverent. Next week is fall break, and the closer I get to that, the clearer my head should be.


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