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More Law Student ADD Therapy

Shortly after I finished my undergrad degree I somehow managed to get into the University of Chicago for graduate work. Looking back, I am not sure how this occurred.  Someone with authority got a little reckless, I think. But I digress.

When I got my acceptance letter from Chicago, I was thrilled. I thought “this is the greatest day of my life.” After all, it was the University of Chicago and that is where all the smart people like me go to grad school. Right? “Congratulations! You have been admitted. . .” That is what that letter said. It must be true. I called everybody. “Mom, I got into the University of Chicago. I must be a genius.”

What a joke. Nothing against the U of C. It was and is a great, great university. But, at the point I was at in my academic life, I can tell you that it was not good for me to get into that school. At least at the moment I got the letter. You see, I didn’t understand what had actually happened to me. I didn’t realize that I had just been accepted into a school that would totally expose me. The University of Chicago is the intellectual equivalent of a full body search at Leavenworth prison.

You see, the U of C is not where all the smart people like me go to graduate school. Chicago is a place where people with brainpower go to grad school, sure. But not ones like me! The U of C is for people who are smart, but who also are serious students. People who can study for hours, let alone five minutes. You walk around the U of C library, and people are not jacking around. Nobody is worried about updating their Twitter. What was true about the U of C, I did not yet understand: If I tried to skate along like I had been, I was going to get hammered. Major train wreck hammered.

Thankfully, a wise friend who saw all this coming, a seer, a prophet, asked me to go to get a beer to “celebrate” me getting into Chicago. “Let’s go get a beer to celebrate,” he said.  OK. I like beer. I went.

I didn’t know what was coming. It was like showing up at your friends house and its an Amway® meeting.  He let me have it. “Gary, you can’t go to the University of Chicago.”


“You can’t go to the University of Chicago. You will get eaten alive.”

Dumbfounded look. “Look, I got a 99% on my GRE. I’m the smartest guy you know. I can handle grad school.”

“You have no ability to succeed at the U of C. You will get tossed by the end of the fi rst quarter.”


He went on. “Gary, I know you’re smart enough. I like you. You’re my best friend. You can be the guardian of my kids. But you have no idea how to study, you have no ability to do what you are going to have to do. Not even close.”

I started to blurt out something. It was no use. This guy had been through the Socratic method. “Your problem is not that you are not smart enough. It’s not that you can’t study. Your problem is that you cannot sit still for more than fi ve minutes.”

Let’s pause my story for a minute. Maybe one of your wise friends never came to you to celebrate you getting into law school. Maybe you don’t drink beer. Fine.  You are reading this blog, and so like it or not: I am that prophet for you, and we are having a beer. So listen to me, friend. Here’s a fundamental law of nature: the first step to learning how to do law school is not learning to study. The first step to doing law school well is learning how to sit down and not get up.

“However,” he said, “you can fix it; it’s easier than you might imagine.”

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