It’s officially October. This means leaves are changing, days are shortening, candy is filling store aisles of stores, and pumpkin beer is available. It also means if you are a 1L, the honeymoon stage of law school might be wearing thin. You’re studying 18 hours a day, your not sure if any of your professors like you, and the others in your group project don’t seem to be as intense about grades. So, now what?
According to Lawrence Krieger of The National Law Journal, it’s time to thrive or survive. While the latter is a very real option, it’s the former that should be the goal. The reasons why are obvious. Law school is tough. There’s a lot of negativity surrounding it now. Loan amounts are high and job placements and bar scores are low. Not to mention, you’re around at least a few intimidating professors and classmates.
Krieger says the difference between thriving and surviving in such an intense environment comes down to choice. “The simple but usually hidden truths are, first, the quality of your experience will be the result of your beliefs, and, second, with accurate information you can change your beliefs and thus absolutely change your experience,” Krieger writes.
The main contributing factor leading to survival mode, Krieger says, is comparing yourself to others. According to Krieger, comparing yourself to classmates in terms of grades, internships, loans, job opportunities, even classroom performance is unhealthy and will lead to survival mode. It’s less of an issue of performance or work and more of confidence. It’s a head game.
On the other hand, thriving does the opposite. Those who thrive look back on their past and what led them to law school and see they are smart, capable, and hard working. Here is the passage Krieger suggests:
“I have been successful in my life so far and am a smart person who gained acceptance to this law school. Whatever the future holds, I will be fine. There is no reason to assume life is turning bad on me. I am here to learn as much as I can that will translate into practicing law later; I will apply myself to learning without paying much attention to my grades and class rank, and will try to find my greatest interests for legal work. I will start early with practical steps to support a job search. There is a lot more to me than my grades, no matter what they are. I can do internships and clinics, volunteer, engage in extracurriculars that play to my personal strengths, network with our alums and other lawyers, and build my resume intelligently for the kind of jobs I most want. Then I’ll get busy early seeking a job, and trust the process to take its course.”
The difference, according to Krieger, is being intrinsic instead of extrinsic. That is, look inward for strength. Look at who you are, where you have come from, and don’t worry about the rest. Looking extrinsically will lead to comparisons with yourself and others and will naturally lead to seeing law school as a competition. And there will always be a loser.
Here’s to your first year of law school and looking inward and thriving.
Source: The National Law Journal