January 28, 2013
Welcome back! We’re looking at the law school experience through popular movies. In Skyfall, someone chides Bond, saying “there’s no shame admitting you lost a step.” Succeeding in undergrad, the LSAT, and law school applications leaves many 1Ls feeling on top of their game. But since grades were posted, maybe you’re feeling you lost a step.
So, what happened? It’s tough to explain to family and friends. In law school, grades sneak up on you. Unlike the college days, there are no daily points, no weekly quizzes, and no midterm exams. Instead, the whole semester is boiled into one three-hour test. No matter how well you prepare, a poor grade is just one wild fact pattern, one computer malfunction, or one exacting grader away.
That grade won’t measure whether you enjoyed the class, or your ability to work and succeed in that kind of law. Instead, grades measure class rank, and with it, scholarships and job prospects. A good lawyer distinguishes cases and facts. So distinguish between success in school and success in life. I did that by moving an hour away to Ames: the home of my family and my alma mater.
Soon I started running into old mentors. They wanted to know how law school was going. Since I was worried they’d be disappointed, I didn’t share much. Eventually, I told a professor who was an alumna of the same undergrad and law school. I’m not sharing what she said, but it’s something all students deserve to hear from their mentors. So reconnect with them, especially if you fell out of touch during the busy semester. They steered you to law school, and they can help steer you through.
No matter what, stay motivated. Pick some new skills and watch them grow day-by-day. They don’t have to be legal ones. Things like exercise, music, or a foreign language grow the patience, discipline, and enthusiasm to succeed in the art of lawyering.
So remember grades aren’t the be-all, end-all of life. Reconnect with your old mentors. Improve every day and every semester. And you’ll be reinstated to Double-O status soon.
In Skyfall, M quotes a Tennyson poem. It’s a good motto for this semester! Be “strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”