(I’ve written this letter before (which can be read here) but now as an aged and experienced 3L, I have even MORE advice to give. Also, I meant to publish this before school started but eh…I’m a 3L.
1L year is terrifying and exciting. You’re meeting multiple new people every day during your first few weeks and trying to read legal text with words you’ve never heard before. Even though most of the professors are extremely nice, you’re sweating and avoiding eye contact in class in hopes they don’t call on you. Most of my advice can be summed up in this; be nice to people, act professional and respectful when you’re supposed to, and try not to get too involved in drama. Life as a UO law student is like being in middle school again but with adults and alcohol. But keep reading for more specific advice.
- If you need music to study/clean/be productive, invest in a premium account of Spotify, Pandora, etc. If you don’t, the ads will start to drive you crazy and none of them are more than $50 a year.
- Go to events. Even if you’re just going for the free food, go to events.
- If you’re from California, be proud. I can’t count how many jabs at California have been thrown at me since moving here. Oregonians are known for their extreme niceness except when it comes to being from the golden state. One of my friends from Oregon literally said that she’d rather live without health insurance than live in California. A bit extreme, yes, but not surprising. My experiences at the courthouse have been filled with jokes about how “we won’t hold it against you if you’re Californian.”
- At the same time, California isn’t the best place in the world. Even though we’re one of the best states for LGBT individuals, we’re not taking our drought seriously enough and the top half of California hates the bottom half and VICE VERSA. But Oregon’s not the greatest either so arguments about it are useless. Wherever you’re from, be proud, just don’t be an asshole (that’s great life advice, you’re welcome).
- Jimmy Johns is a godsend and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. Lovely people on bikes delivering you sandwiches can be the best thing at the end of the day.
- Become best friends with the career counselors. All they want is to help you get a job and they’re really good at it. Use them.
- Go to ThuNBaR. Unfortunately, you missed my wonderful reign as ThuNBaR Master last year but my co-captain and I picked out 2 wonderful successors and you better believe that I’ll be at many a thunbars my last year of law school. And if ThuNBaR doesn’t appeal to you, creating a weekly tradition with your friends is great motivation to get shit done during the week.
- If you love frozen yogurt and miss it because Eugene doesn’t really care, go to Dickie’s. DO NOT GO TO THE FROZEN YOGURT PLACE BY CAMPUS. People will tell you that it’s “ah-mazing” but it’s horrible. Dickie’s is wonderful and there’s one next to Valley River Center and Oakway Center. I think it’s the Southern Californian in me, but I deeply care about frozen yogurt.
- You’ll want to eat ice cream all the time because of law school, but you will gain weight and your blazers won’t fit, so switch to frozen yogurt with fruit on top. Or workout while watching your favorite shows on Netflix. Or gain the weight, it happened to all of us.
- Support your classmates. It makes law school easier and more fun. After our first final, some of us stayed in the commons and cheered as our classmates went to turn in their test. I also had made dozens of cookies the night before due to stress, so I passed those out as well. It’s one of my fondest memories.
- Unless it really thrills you to get fully dressed every day for class and studying, just wear comfortable clothes to school. For me, this is workout leggings and a tank top or sweater. It pays to be comfortable when you’re sitting down and reading for most of the day. Also, classrooms are cold.
- But when you’re going to any law school event, dress like a professional. When you first put on a suit, you might feel like a kid playing dress up. But after awhile, you’ll start to feel at home in a blazer. Advice for women, low heels are fun to wear and complete the outfit. You’re feet won’t hurt after standing for hours and when you walk down the hallway, you feel like Beyonce. At any other time, you can find me in some leggings and a sweater that most likely has a Harry Potter reference on it.
- Use your experiences in law school to learn more about yourself. Law school made me a tougher person and I’m proud of that. Before coming here, I spent an ungodly amount of time and stress making sure I didn’t offend anyone even when they offended me first. Now I still try not to offend people, because I’m a nice person, but I also speak my mind. I argue when I don’t like what someone is saying and I stand up for myself even though it might offend someone. At the end of the day, you can try your best but there will always be someone who doesn’t like you even when you’re just being yourself. So surround yourself with people that do like you and forget the haters. I like to live my life by this Laurell K. Hamilton quote.
- “My father had taught me to be nice first, because you can always be mean later, but once you’ve been mean to someone, they won’t believe the nice anymore. So be nice, be nice, until it’s time to stop being nice, then destroy them.”
- On a similar note, if you have a “guilty obsession” you think people will judge you for, being in law school helps with that. I can confidently say that I’m a law student with plans to become a criminal prosecutor and I also love One Direction. Like an unhealthy amount. Like this summer I went to a One Direction concert in Canada with my best friend. (here’s proof ->)
And I’m not ashamed because I’m also a year away from receiving my J.D., the Director of Women’s Law Forum, and a law student with trial experience. So whatever you’re obsession is (The Bachelor, fantasy football, Dungeons & Dragons, Star Trek), don’t be embarrassed, because it just makes you a more complex and interesting human being.
- This isn’t really advice and more like an old person whining, but I am extremely jealous that you 1L’s got to take your own picture for your ID card. Us earlier folks had to walk all the way to the EMU and find the ID office in the basement and get our pictures taken This picture will be looked at by everyone at the school multiple times for three years. The MyLaw Directory is a lifeline when your classmate references someone you don’t know so the fact you got to take multiple pictures of yourself and submit your favorite one infuriates some of us. Go ahead and look through the directory and try and figure out who would have loved a second chance at an ID photo.
All in all, the stress of law school never stops, you just get better at handling it. But you will make it through and you’ll be a better person for it. Whenever you need help, whether it’s a simple “where’s this classroom?” or an “I’m about to have a panic attack.”, confide in someone. You’re life will be so much better if you turn to those around you in times of need.