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So, you got into Law School. Congratulations. Enjoy it before the One L fear sets in.

Approaching law school is a lot like approaching heart surgery, or entering boot camp, or jumping off a bridge attached to a bungee cord. Outsiders may have a vague sense about what the experience may be like, and yet very little is actually known to outsiders about it. Only insiders—those who have been through it—really know. As a result, going to law school is like walking down some unfamiliar stairs alone in the dark. The footing is unsure, there is nothing to grab onto, and who knows what we are going to find at the bottom.

It doesn’t help matters that an informal hazing culture has also grown up around the first year of law school. The unwritten rule among the fraternity that have gone to law school is that we are expected not to disclose what it is really like. We are all sworn not to reveal the secrets of the Temple.  Instead, the approved message to future One Ls is simple and stark: law school is a mysterious, frightening, cruel experience. It was for us, and so it will be for you.

And so the legends are told in full color. We have all heard about the law student that left their wife during law school, or the law student whose wife left him. We are told of the many One Ls who have had nervous breakdowns in class, the heart attack victims, the grueling work reminiscent of The Deadliest Catch, the egoism and brutality of the professors, the weight gain and the hair loss. There is more mythology associated with the first year of law school than in book one of the The Lord of the Rings.

You may also have been unlucky enough to read Scott Turow’s book One L or seen the movie The Paper Chase before getting through the One L year.  Don’t get me wrong, it is not that Turow’s book is a bad one; not at all. It is a great book. The movie is a gem. I heartily recommend it to every Two L I know.

The problem with reading One L before law school is just that: you read it before going to law school, before actually finishing the One L year. Timing is everything. You won’t understand what I mean until your first year is over, but trust me, One L is a very different book if you read it before the first year than if you read it after.  Before you finish the One L year it is a tragedy; after your One L is over, it’s a laugh out loud comedy.

In a few days I will post about the “scare you to death” factor for the One L year, and what to do to avoid it.

One Comment

  1. Posted March 3, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    You hit the nail on the head!!! WOW! As a 2nd semester 1L, I could identify with everything you said (I’ve experienced a few of those examples personally!!!) and wholeheartedly agree!!! I read OneL a few weeks before school began in August and it did scare the crap out of me – funny thing is, tho, I didn’t believe it could be that bad, and yet in some respects it is worse!! I look forward to LMAO about it this summer when I watch the movie!! :)

    We joke it is like hazing all the time!!

    HATE what we’re going thru but it will sure feel good in about 2.5 months!! Thanks for writing this!!

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