Friday, July 29, 2016

What to Do Before You Start Law School

During the summer months, I sometimes get calls or emails from students who are about to enter law school asking me what they should watch or read before law school starts.  My advice is always just to relax and get charged up for the coming fall.  Personally, I wouldn't watch or read anything even remotely dealing with the law.  

The summer before I went to law school, I had a job counting otters in Idaho (they were attacking people, which is a long story).  Consequently, I spent all summer only thinking about otters, fly-fishing, and how much more fun I'd be having if my girlfriend had come with me.  I was aware I was going to law school, but I don't think I thought about law once.  The only books I had were the usual sci-fi and fantasy nonsense I like, and I had no television or access to movies.

I drove straight from Idaho to Austin and hit the first day of law school really psyched.  Everything seemed novel and shiny.  I learned that a "tort" was not a delicious jelly-filled dessert.  I answered a question about an exploding stove.  I found a place in the library where I could study surrounded by the death masks of English executioners.  I figured out where the law school bar was.  I made a bunch of friends right off.  Law school looked like it was going to be grand.  

Then, I got the idea that I should watch The Paper Chase because it was about law school.  So, a few friends and I got the movie from Blockbuster (which, believe it or not, used to be a big deal where a person would spend a lot of their time), bought some beer and pizza, and sat down to watch.

The Paper Chase freaked me out.  After watching it, I was a little terrified of returning to law school.  Professors were going to yell at me.  My friends and I were going to freak out during exams.  I'd be buried in reams of paper.

I got over it and went right back to liking law school, but I think I would have been better off just experiencing law school as I went and not trying to get a read on it from pop culture.

So, as the final weeks of summer fade and you get ready to begin your legal career, I think you could do worse than just playing Pokemon Go and hanging out at the pool.  

(Alex Ruskell)

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