Monday, March 29, 2010

1L year filled with victories, losses, and lessons

I'm sitting on a couch in the lobby of the law library, waiting to find out if I will be one of eight 1Ls selected to advance to the second round of our oral argument competition. I would be thrilled to advance, but I won't be upset if I don't. I already know that arguing before a judge, a professor, or another student is one of the things in law school that I do well. I'm confident and calm in the heat of the moment, and several attorneys have given me really great feedback about this in recent weeks. I mention this not because I intend to brag, but rather to illustrate one of the lessons that many of us are learning at U of L Law: almost everyone in our class has notched a few victories this year, and almost everyone has been humbled at some point.

For me, the victories have affirmed my decision to leave a solid job after 11 years and throw all of my poker chips into law. I earned solid grades in my first semester, recently found a summer job, and got hooked on the art of oral argument. There also have been plenty of brutally humbling experiences. My first two grades in law school -- a midterm in Torts and a writing assignment -- came back with C-minus written on them. I've also said things in class that came back to smack me in the face -- arguments that were not well-reasoned, questions that I could not field, jumbled up nonsense that somehow came spilling out of my mouth. Even last week, I received a score on a Spring Break quiz in Contracts that was laughably low, i.e., less than half of what some other students scored.

The lesson in all of this, I think, is that being a 1L requires you to try as hard as you can to keep your head above water and achieve, and at the same time to accept the fact that you will not always be at the very top (or even in the middle!). But there are enough opportunities and niches in the field of law that each of us has room to carve out our own place, and eventually turn it into a career. At least that's my argument for the moment.

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