Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Stress and preparing for law school (a short disquisition):

I haven’t even walked in the hallowed halls of a law school yet, nor have I experienced the competition and determination that seem to permeate the entire body known as legal education, however I already seem to be suffering from the symptoms that were vividly catalogued in The Paper Chase.

I have devoted the last few years of my life delving into the ethereal realm of literary criticism within the discipline of Comparative Literature. I have primarily focused on Russian literature with an emphasis on 19th century prose. As I prepare to dismiss this phase of my education into the justifying category of “avocational pleasures” I now worry how prepared I really am to cope in a different academic atmosphere.

Law schools say they prefer candidates with broad backgrounds, especially those in the liberal arts – but how truthful can this statement be? Before a couple of weeks ago if anyone asked me what a tort was I would tell them it is a small dessert, typically served with fresh fruit and custard. I know next to nothing about the American legal system, and cannot even name half of the current Supreme Court Justices.

This mental insecurity has lead me to spend hours and dollars buying books that will hopefully turn me into a competent individual – one who will not need medicine for social anxiety just because he is called on in class. This past month I bought One L, Law School Confidential, A People’s History of the United States, The Common Law, and have downloaded numerous essays on current legal issues. To many this probably seems to be an extreme case of self-doubting, and in all actuality it is.

Already I am trying to devise study strategies. Ok, how do I brief a case, how intense should my outlines be? How am I going to structure my daily schedule? Am I going to transfer my class notes into my computer directly following each class? Should I keep a larger outline throughout the entire semester and then condense it during my preparation for finals? Which commercial outlines should I buy? Which hornbooks should I read? What do I need to buy and know before even moving to school? I am seven months away from Day 1 and am already burned out! I think Law School has already begun to cast its shadowy figure on my life.

Don’t get me wrong; I am tremendously excited to start law school. I vacillated for a couple of years before actually deciding on what I would like to do with my life. I was almost resigned to being a garbage man before figuring it out. I have been happy since I decided to pursue a legal education, and things have fallen into place for me since then. I just want to be ready for this next step – maybe a tub of Prozac would be the best thing for me?