Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Thanks to the excellent JD2B for the link today that's brought gobs more visitors than normal. Hope at least a few of you enjoy what you read and come back to visit again.

A few brief comments, and then I want to steal some content from the Princeton Review law school discussion board and offer my perspective on some stuff:

1. I'm living at home for this part of the summer, and we just got a DVD player for the first time. And those director commentaries are mad cool. Maybe it's just the novelty of it, but wow. For anyone who writes, or dreams of writing, or is interesting in writing -- wow.

2. A friend and I came up with a great law school orientation activity the other day... since everyone feels pressured to go to everything those first few critical "don't want to be left without any friends" days... put up a sign saying "orientation activity, meet at wherever, and hand $50 to the guy in the top hat." Then just put on a top hat and collect some cash. Easy money.

3. Okay, now some real content. JD2B linked today to a Princeton Review thread of a Harvard 2L answering questions. One inquisitive soon-to-be 1L asks:

How was your first year (experience, competition, grades, etc.)? Is it as hard as everyone makes it out to be? Did you get a summer associate position? Which teachers did you find most interesting? How much time did you spend on assignments for class each day? How much did you study for finals?

My answers:

(1) Relax, soon-to-be-1L. You'll figure it all out and you'll be fine. Don't have a heart attack before school even starts. If you have all of these questions and sound like a nervous wreck two months before school starts, you're going to be miserable by September and probably end up having an awful time at law school and not making any friends except with the other nervous wrecks and you can all go live in the library together. Sorry, it's late, and I have no sympathy for people thinking about summer jobs and taking exams before they even get to school.

(2) First year's as fun as you want it to be. You want to have a miserable time? Good news is you can! Want to be happy and well-adjusted? Well, you can do that too! There's lots of activities, related in various degrees to and not so much to the practice of law. Find some you like, you'll make some friends, you'll keep busy, you'll have a good time. Easy to do mediocre, not as easy to do great, but I'm not sure if doing great corresponds with number of hours studying, or corresponds at all with how miserable you are. But feel free to put that one to the test. There are people who hate school. Go in trying to be one of them, and you'll likely succeed at that, but maybe not at class. Who knows.

(3) Similarly, it's as hard as you make it. The people who think it's hard are, by and large, making it hard for themselves. Yes, there are probably for whom just getting by is hard. But I think most of the people at law school -- at any law school, probably -- are more than capable of doing the work, it's just a matter of good study habits, decent time management, planning ahead, and not driving yourself nuts. Don't get behind in the reading, don't try and write a thousand page outline, don't buy every study guide in the library, and (some controversial advice) get some sleep and don't stay out until 3AM every day.

(4) I didn't get a summer associate position, but I didn't interview for any. Many of my friends who wanted 'em got 'em. Some didn't. Either way, you can get one after 2L year, and I imagine you'd have to be pretty messed up to not be able to get a job upon graduation, just from what I hear.

(5) I found the good teachers more interesting than the bad ones. :) 1L professors are the luck of the draw. You'll get good ones, bad ones, and mediocre ones I imagine. And by the time you have any choice, you'll hear from enough people that you won't need any advice I can provide here. Some people like the socratic ones, some like the other kind.

(6) I didn't spend an overwhelming amount of time on assignments for class, less as the year went by, and less the less chance there was I'd be called on. In retrospect, I felt best when I tried to get the week's worth of reading disposed of over the weekend and could enjoy my week. Which made the weekend less fun, but made me feel good I was always ahead of where I needed to be, and ensured I could get 9 hours of sleep a night. Which made me unusually well-rested I suppose. But I have no regrets about sleeping.

(7) I studied for finals as if it was a full-time job I was not very committed to. Some hours in the morning, long lunch break, some unproductive hours in the afternoon, and generally not much after dinner. Practice exams are the way to go -- not only are they more helpful, I find them more fun and interesting than just about any other study-related activity besides playing with post-it tabs.

Another asks: How was class generally? Students well-prepared and engaged or bored and consumed with Solitaire? How was the overall intellectual atmoshpere of the school? Conferences/speakers and the like available and readily announced? (and in a later post) How did you feel about the capabilities of your classmates?

(1) Way too much solitaire. Disgraceful. I think there should be a police officer in the back of the room who arrests any student caught playing a computer game. It's disrespectful to the professor, and distracting to everyone in the room. I am not kidding. I am completely serious. I think anyone who plays solitaire during class ought to stay home.

(2) That said, it's not so respectful when professors come to class unprepared to teach. Not as common as one could imagine, but for some classes it happened sometimes. I think they should stay home too if they can't do their job. Of course, most of my professors were superbly prepared and extremely diligent and well-intentioned. The result being that most classes were interesting. I sure wish they required all professors to take some improvisational comedy lessons or something like that, because I found that a well-placed joke or quip or story or quick-witted reply could improve the enjoyment of the class tenfold. Doesn't have to be as boring as it sometimes is. Read Bill Bryson's new book about science as proof -- potentially boring subject, but I don't believe there's a more talented writer on the planet. He could make anything a great read.

(3) Overall intellectual atmosphere? I don't know what that means. Lunchtime conversations smart things were not uncommon. There are people who are into talking about affirmative action, the war in Iraq, and abortion -- and there are people into talking about cheese and tampons. I have no idea why those two words came to mind. Anyway, I think a mix of the two kinds of talk is good. I might've wished for more introspective conversations about the meaning of life. But that's just me. Too many extroverts to get those going too often.

(4) Conferences and lectures are well-publicized. Unfortunately, most of them aren't worth publicizing. I find that stuff generally a little boring.

(5) I found some of my classmates to be quite swift, others of perfectly reasonable and capable intelligence, and a few to be on some other planet besides this one, or, as I sometimes wonder, not to have an internal monologue going on in their heads. Like anywhere else. I don't think it's possible for someone to be disappointed in the intellectual caliber of the people they'd find, as a whole. There are enough super-bright people that it ought not be an issue no matter what you got on the LSAT. :)

And then there was a whole bunch of crap about law review that if you read some stuff from end of May, beginning of June down below, I think I covered in about as much detail as anyone who doesn't live inside my head needs to know.

So there you have it, at least from my perspective.

(I'll also humbly take this opportunity, now that I have a stream of new visitors perhaps, to attempt to broaden an experiment I'm trying -- E-mail me (subject line: e-mail list) to be added to a weekly e-mail list that'll send you the highlights of what I post here, plus some stuff that won't be posted here (maybe) and that I promise will make you laugh. Or your money back. Of course also feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions about law school you'd like to see me ramble on about, or anything else. There ain't nothing that makes the day go by faster than clicking to check e-mail and actually finding I have new messages. Remarkable, that Internet thing.)