Monday, June 10, 2013

Top 10 Unsolicited Law School Advice

In less than a week I'll be going back to school. Though I did rant the entire summer about the need to advance study-- my procrastinating self ended bum... bummer... bummest. This two months, I've been wanting to go back attending class since my summer consists of going to work and yah... going to work. Exciting right [insert sarcasm] !? Now all I could think of is the hope to extend vacation, at least one more week, so that I could finish my readings. Anyway so much for high hopes.

That being said, last Saturday I attended the freshmen orientation for our first batch of Juris Doctor. First because I entered PUP College of Law under the Bachelors of Law program. Anyway, I had the chance to answer one of their questions and promote our sorority. It's quite surreal to me considering I'm no longer part of the younger batch. Somehow I am preparing myself to hear lots of 'Ate'. Ekkkk! Such morbid word. hahahaha.

The question I answered during the orientation is about the struggles/fears they will experience upon entering law school. It somewhat gave me the idea that majority of them knows nothing of what they got themselves into.

In my case,  I had already everything inside the bag. I finished Legal Management as a pre-law course and my mom and back-then-boyfriend also entered Law School. They already shared so many stories of what I should expect. Though experiencing it first hand is still the best-- it somehow helped me cope up. I did not necessarily experience what they call 'culture shock'. It then made me feel bad for the upcoming Law Students. Of course I want them to stay and finish what they started but sometimes 'shock' can make you change path.

Anyway, to help incoming law students-- here are few unsolicited advice from yours truly to lessen the impact. Disclaimer, these are purely based on experience. No pun intended.

1. Fear is inevitable but it makes you a law student. First thing you must understand upon entering law school is that-- THIS IS NOT UNDERGRAD SCHOOL NOR MASTER's. This is law school. Different and far from the said two. Do not expect your professors to be buddy-chums during class. Most of the time, they will humiliate you (may it not be expressly) but they will. It's up to you to overcome it but remember-- there's no point dwelling too much about it. Fear today; brace yourself tomorrow. Be humiliated today; laugh about it tomorrow. That's how to survive law school.

2. Do not expect your professors to teach. And I say do not. You cannot rant about professors being paid to teach-- like nobody cares what you say. You cannot also argue about unjust flunking just because your professors do not attend class. That is not how it works here. The expectation from professors here are different from any schools (correlate to #1). There are even professors who expect you to read the entire book-- know the entire subject outline even before class starts. Many would already conduct graded recitation on the first meeting. Morbid? Well that is just how it goes. Personally, I find classroom discussion boring. It's like spoon feeding study and it does not give me the urge to read. Also, I am not really a good listener and listening to only a voice makes me sleepy. ZZZZzzzzzz

3. Big bags are your bestfriend. When I was in undergrad, I would usually go to school with a purse. I would settle for a pen and 2pesos yellow paper-- good enough to use for the entire day. Somehow I was able to finish school and pass my subjects without any failing grade. That is not how it goes in Law School. Now, I would usually carry two tote bags. When its Saturday (meaning more than one subject), I would have the bags plus a book or reviewer hand-carried. No exaggeration. Just for a subject, you will most likely need a book, codal and at least 10 cases per meeting. I repeat-- that's just for one meeting; one subject. Now apply ratio and proportion. That is all the reading materials you need in order to survive ONE subject. Some other subjects would even require to read not just one book. It is different especially for non-readers (ehem ehem guilty!) but somehow you will get a hold of it. Appreciating books is a working progress. No wonder tablets are the latest trend in Law School but personally, I'd still go for hardbound. It has this certain power to help retain in your mind whatever you read.

4. Do not compete against your classmates. Not unless you want to be the 'Most Unwanted Person' in your school-- please don't. There's nothing wrong with good competition but do not direct it towards your classmates. It's no use. Might as well compete against yourself. You can be grade conscious. There's no law telling you not to be one. But remember, those grade conscious people most of the time suffer stress and fatigue. In this field, you can't afford to be one.

5. Go for difficult professors. This is perhaps one of my regrets in Law School. Back during 1st and 2nd year, I tried avoiding difficult professors. I took the easy road. I was wrong. The subjects are connected- one way or another. Especially for major subjects, so make sure you study them well, with heart. I am not saying you will not learn but somehow I appreciated more the subjects which I find difficult to pass than those not. Also, you will need the list of difficult professors you passed once you are already on your third and forth year. This is like the years where you will begin to question your potential because most of the subjects are already procedural. When you are having doubts about your mental capabilities, you must have morale boost. The idea that you passed a difficult professor can give you that. :)

6. Look like a lawyer. There are some schools which require corporate attire while there are some not. In the case of PUP, they said starting this semester it will be more strict. You might think- what's the logic of wearing corporate attire in one's mental prowess. Scientifically none but it can give the confidence to face the class. Plus the fact, the more pleasing to eyes for the professor- the better. It is matter of impression. Not unless you can show, mentally and physically, to your professors and even classmates that you have the "It" to become a lawyer then don't expect to pass. There are some instances even that 'First impression last' applies. Basically, you can never tell how a professor/lawyer gives grade. Each has an own style.

7. Sleep. I know its a common notion to bid goodbye to sleep upon entering law school. Personally, I cry it pointless. Sleep when you feel tired from all the studying. There's no point pushing yourself too much. You are not yet taking the bar exams, anyway. This is still Law School. There's no point to it if you can no longer understand what you are reading. Take some rest. As I've said, you can't afford being stressed out in this field. Where asylum do you want to visit,aha!?

8. Relax. It's not true that you will commit social suicide upon entering law school (though admit, I did burst out few angst at such in various networking sites). You can still must have fun. In order to loosen up with all the tensions and adrenaline rush from Law School, you must have an avenue relax. Personally, I do it by laughing a lot and aloud. When I don't feel like talking much, I go watch Korean Movies. That's actually where my fondness came from. Through the course of your stay in Law School, I bet you will have your own  little ways to detox. 

9. Prayers can do miracles. If you are the type who does not believe in God or not really fond of praying-- make a total shift, as in now na! No matter how atheist you are, you will definitely call for God when in Law School. Might as well start it early so you can have a better relationship with HIM. 

10. Just enjoy the ride. Sometimes it is not what lies ahead but the journey you take. Do not stress yourself in Law School (repeated again and again to put emphasize) because are already a College Graduate. No need to pressure yourself of making your family, friends, colleagues and even foes proud. Being a lawyer is not exactly the end deal. To think, it is only the bonus. You have already proven yourself to the world by finishing with a college degree. And if I may just add, enter law school for the right cause. Cliché already the reasons "my parents want me do this" or "I want to help the poor". Though I did use the former as an alibi, for lack of interest to expound my reasoning, become a lawyer because you want to and not for the sake of other people. It is a totally different world in Law School. If you don't have valid and efficient reason to back you up-- then I doubt you will last.

Well that's it for now. I hope my Top 10 Unsolicited Law School Advice can be such help. I still have couple more to give. Perhaps, I will do an extended version of this.

As for all the incoming freshmen Law Student... W-E-L-C-O-M-E! Keep the fire burning. Aja aja fighting!

Katerina Bianca