Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Ten Plagues Upon Law Students

It is Passover.  And, after participating in two Seders this year (and sometime after the fourth cup of wine during the second Seder...), I came to realize that  the ten plagues visited upon the Egyptians may be analogous to what law students suffer from at this time of year.  For those of you not familiar with the story:  God supposedly sent ten plagues to the Egyptians to protest their enslavement of the Jewish people and those plagues were:  blood, frogs, lice, wild beasts, blight-a cattle disease, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the slaying of the first born (my younger children particularly enjoyed acting out the last one on their older sister).

I believe that the ten plagues that visit law students in mid-April are:

1. Stress-exams will be here in a matter of weeks, possibly less than a month at some schools.  Some students are still wondering when they will "get" the material and now realize that the ship hasn't yet sailed on understanding the law but it is pulling up anchor.

2. Depression- also probably related to the timing of exams, but also to the weather improving and not being able to participate in it.  Also, if students did not do well on prior exams, this new set of exams is imbued with even more meaning for them and the whole of their self-esteem may be riding on their performance now.

3.  Failure to outline-  the ship has probably sailed on this one.  I expect to see a number of panicked students looking for recommendations on what to do if they haven't outlined yet this semester.  Usually, I recommend some blending of a commercial outline and their class notes.

4.  Lack of Information- about exams.  What will the format be?  Will there be multiple choice questions?  How many?  Will the professor cover last semester's material?  Ask and you shall know.

5.  Lack of Exercise- I know this is crunch-time but if you stop taking care of yourself, you will not function as well.  It is very easy to get tunnel-vision about exams and studying if you do not leave this building.  Also, if you do not distract yourself in some pleasurable way now and through exams, you will leave your imagination to run wild about the horrifying possibilities of the exams.  Your imagination is almost always worse than the exam itself and panic is really time-consuming!

6.  Professors Racing to Finish the Material on the Syllabus-  sure we can cover fifteen cases per class from now until exams and sure, all this material will be on the exam.  Ready, set, go.....  It makes the Boston Marathon look like a stroll in the park.  I hear a lot about the fundamental unfairness of this situation at this time of year (and every semester) because it happens all the time.

7.  Library Noise- Papers are due.  Outlines need to be done.  The library is louder than usual.  Study somewhere else....

8.  Registering for  Next Semester- should I take the easy class or the one that will be more interesting but might bring down my GPA?  I say go for the interesting class because if you are interested you will do better.  Take a class with a professor who is passionate about the subject even if they give a harder exam because, especially if this is a bar class, you will absolutely know your stuff.

9. No Summer Job- this is a real problem (especially here in the city of many law schools).  But, it is not the end of the world.  Volunteering, while not lucrative, will enhance your resume.  Also, people who are not paying you will probably be more flexible about how much time you spend there so you can have a paying job on the side.  This would be a good time to do a "connections check."  You know, "do I know anyone anywhere who could help me out?"

10.  Frogs- well it just can't be good to have frogs sitting on your shoulders during exams.  Think of the noise.   Think of the slime.

Happy Holidays! (ezs)

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