Everything I needed to know about law school I learned skiing

February 27, 2013

law school graduatesI went skiing for the first time and thought about my law school journey.

1L Year: The Bottom of the Hill
When skiing, my first question was “how do I put all this on?” It took a long time to figure out what goes where. Once the skis were on, I shuffled around without really going anywhere. Meanwhile, teachers emphasized fundamentals: moving, turning, and even learning how to fall and get back up.

In 1L year, you leave the bookstore weighed down by casebooks, study aids, and a copy of Black’s Law Dictionary. How do you use it all? Learning how is a slow process. But things like citation and legal analysis are as important as figuring out how to stop while skiing.

2L Year: The Bunny Hill
Once the fundamentals were down, we took the magic carpet to the bunny hill. There’s more freedom and more space up there. With it comes the responsibility to stay in-control: not hurtling into the bottom of the hill or other skiers.

In 2L year, you have more choices in skills courses, internships, and competition teams. They are new places to apply what you’ve learned. With those new demands on your time, it’s important to manage it wisely. You don’t want to be cramming for school with finals on the horizon.

3L Year: The Ski Lift
Suddenly, we were on a ski lift and I felt out-of-place. A couple in ski suits and goggles sat down ahead of us. The lift rattled and clanked and soon, the equipment shop and bunny hill were out of sight. We could see the highway, the equipment shop, and the tiny dots of people on the hill. I remember thinking “can I really do this?” and then whooping with excitement all the way down.

In 3L year, things speed up. If you appear in court, you’ll face seasoned advocates and do amazing work. The degree of your responsibilities and competition may be daunting. But even though the pace has picked up, the basics remain the same. You’ll be faster at churning out memos and reading cases. There’ll just be much, much more of it.

Whether applying precedent, distinguishing cases, or zig-zagging down the slopes, smile! You’re practiced and ready to take it on.