Reflections On My First Year of Law School

I saved notes on my phone throughout the 2019-2020 school year so that I would have an easier time of writing this post, but it really didn’t make anything easier. This year was a mess. Everything went wrong. Everything went right. I wanted to write this post as a way to help others facing their first year of graduate school, but really there’s no other way to do it other than jumping in and just getting the dang thing done.

Side note: That’s what I tell myself when I have things to do, but to motivation to do them. “Just DO THE DANG THING.”

As promised, here are the notes from my phone through the 2019-2020 school year:

  • don’t buy your textbooks – rent them!
  • Jeff Bezos may be taking over the world, but the convenience of Amazon is unmatched
  • I have realized that I am not as smart as people think I am, but smarter than I give myself credit for
  • This is SO hard and SO challenging, but very easy in some respects. The easy pockets make it hard to get myself to study consistently.
  • (at the end of fall semester finals) I have no brain left and my memory is so shot and I feel like my brain is melting and I cannot remember anything
  • (at the end of second semester finals) Dear God I cannot believe I have to put up with another two years of this F@#%@~^@!$

That last note makes it seem like I hated law school. I didn’t (don’t). I do, however, hate how dead taking finals makes me feel. I sincerely have no brain power, or brain cells, left after my last final. If you asked me my name I probably would not be able to tell you. So, sitting in my room after my last final typing out a note to myself about getting through second semester was not the best idea…but it happened, and now it’s shared on the Internet. Law school can be rough, y’all.

Second semester was especially tough because of the timing of the pandemic. School shut down right after spring break. Classes were all moved online. Stores were selling out of toilet paper, food, and cleaning products. Life went from a happy hippie paradise (I was in Nashville for spring break) to being absolutely chaos to being at a complete standstill. The standstill, however, felt like watching the tide recede before a tsunami. All the seagulls are quiet. Everyone is just watching, waiting. You know something isn’t right. For those of us that know the hallmark signs of a tsunami, we wait in terror. The second half of spring semester was just like that: waiting in terror. I was so scared that my parents would get sick. I was so scared my cat would get sick. I was so scared my teachers, my classmates, my friends, my roommate, myself would get sick. I watched the death toll rise as I sat alone in my room. Studying for finals felt pointless because what if there were no finals? What if everything was going to continue to be shut down forever? I do not deal well with uncertainty, so second semester was a very difficult time for me.

Oh, and did I mention that one of my final exams (that was worth my entire letter grade!) got lost in cyberspace? Yeah. Stressful.

Speaking of – Finals are usually in person, on BlueBoard examination software, at the law school. We’re usually in a quiet classroom with a paper exam in one hand and our computer in the next. Second semester every exam was online and open book. Instead of having three hours per test, we had a full two days. Just when I thought I was comfortable with the way law school tests their students, the pandemic changed all of it. And it’s continuing to change. This semester of Fall 2020 our semester is getting cut short and our exams moved online. We’ll have a longer period than the normal three hours to complete each exam, but it certainly won’t be forty-eight hours worth.

To be perfectly honest, if I were starting law school in the fall of 2020, I would defer. I’m more comfortable with where I’m at in my second year only because I had last semester as a ‘end of the world but continue to be a law student’ trial run. If I didn’t have my friends and my section with me for that experience, I wouldn’t have made it. We were all lost, but we were all lost together. I feel for the new students I’ve met this semester. They know the twenty odd students in their section, but very few know upperclassmen or other students in general. Thankfully the shelter in place requirement is no longer being enforced, otherwise students might have gone the whole semester without seeing another law student in person. It was my section and my mentor that really helped me the most my first year, so I can’t imagine trying to have that same experience virtually.

Despite the pandemic, I did like law school. I like how it made me think, and how it changed the way I analyze the world. I mean, duh, I like it, I’m still here aren’t I? Ha. Go Bears, and good luck to the Mercer Law Class of 2020 taking the bar this week!

Law School: Year Two, Semester One

It seems silly that I’m posted a semester update before recapping my entire 1L year, but here we are. Life has once again gotten a little crazy. I feel like I just finished my first final, my first year, and my first internship and here I am starting all over. In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So far, life has been a steady stream of chaos. This, as odd as it sounds, is somewhat peaceful. Yes I’m still running around like a chicken with my head cut off, but at least there is some normalcy within the pandemic we’re (still) facing. I know what classes are online and when, I’ve gotten used to seeing only half of everyone’s face, and I’m really enjoying the six foot social distancing rule because I get to spread my textbooks all over the desk in front of me rather than being elbow to elbow with my classmates.

Still, Corona has made life pretty scary. My alma mater, UGA, has shut down, as well as my father’s alma mater, UNC Chapel Hill. Mercer is continuing to have open doors, but students are still getting sick. I’m lucky that most of my classmates are taking things seriously. Only a handful of my peers have gotten sick with the virus. I haven’t caught it, but I’ve had some close calls. While I enjoy the “new normal” we’ve found ourselves in, I know that being complacent in it will not return us to the old normal.

As a former event director at a big university, I miss being surrounded by happy faces, free food, and matching t-shirts. I really miss seeing my friends smiling as they walk down the halls. I’d give anything to have an event on school grounds where I can see everyones’ faces and run up to people and hug them to thank them for coming. Life is weird without hugs and smiles, but we’re getting there.

As for school, Mercer Law is doing a “hybrid” program. My classes are partially online and partially in person. Each student has the ability to ask to be fully online for the semester, especially if they have a medical reason to do so. Right now I’m in person Monday through Thursday, and all my classes Friday are online. Some professors are doing all online, some all in person, some half and half. It’s…confusing. I’m used to it solely because I’ve been doing it since August!

This semester I’m taking Evidence, Torts II, Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, and Legal Writing 2. I also had an Introduction to Client Counseling course I had to complete before the semester really kicked off. And I had a Title IX training (doesn’t count for class credit but is required as part of my degree at Mercer!). Come to me for all your legal needs!! Just kidding, please don’t do that.

I am so excited to see what this semester holds and what challenges I’m getting ready to face. Almost halfway done with law school!

This semester brought to you by: Starbucks, red wine, and my indestructible planner (get yours @ passionplanner.com)