How to Make the Most of Orientation but Not Worry Too Much About It, Regardless.

It's Law School Orientation season and I'm trying to come to grips with the fact that I won't be returning to my beloved campus this fall.

Law school bloggers didn't really exist when I was applying and entering law schools; we were left with more ~nefarious~ sources that arguably provided good information but chased out alternative veiwpoints.

Orientations vary substantially in programming (and dress code).  My orientation was nearly a week of both mandatory and optional events of differing levels of usefulness, including mock classes, a service day, information about student organizations, millions of panels about how to succeed in law school, and a lot of free pizza.  I was also trying to get situated in my new apartment after moving across the country, which didn't make it any easier.

However, there are some things, imho, that are critical to making the most of your orientation program.

1.  Engage with your classmates.  You're going to spend the next three years of your life practically on top of these people.  Your section mates will become your best friends.  My bar study group (suffering panel may be a better term) included 2 people from my section (under 25 people).  You're going to live through finals, stress, illness, breakups, divorces, death, the bar, and crippling presidential elections together.  You're also going to experience the good stuff: new relationships, fun activities, pro bono outreach, dream jobs, interviews, fellowships, awards, publication, clerkships, and graduation.  Be friendly.  Its probably normal to feel like you're toeing the line of constant humble-bragging during orientation.  Don't worry about it too much, but don't be that guy*, either. 

2.  What to Wear; What to Bring: Dress codes are weird.  Consider yourself lucky if they tell you to show up Business Professional, because that leaves very little room for interpretation.  I'm sure I noticed what people wore at the time, but 3 years later I have no idea.  Bring a bag (backpack, tote, purse, whatever.)  Bring snacks.  Bring Advil.  Bring a cell phone full of pictures of your dog back at home.  (YOU WILL BOND OVER THE DOG PICTURES, TRUST ME).  My orientation went nearly all day, and then led to groups going out for dinner and then drinks.  Embrace it.  This is the last time for three years you won't have other responsibilities hanging over your head. 

3.  On Taking Advice: Listen to everyone who wants to give you advice, but take it with a grain of salt.  Several grains of salt.  You didn't get to law school because you were bad at school.  At the end of the day, you know how you learn best.  The best part about advice is it gives you Plans B-Z if your Plan A doesn't quite work out.  You may plan to hand brief every case (lol), but you might realize that book briefing works better for you.  Maybe the sight of highlighter and pen all over your casebooks made you want to hurl, and it takes you three years to realize that you aren't defacing the books but instead learning from them.  Maybe you started out wanting to do big law in big city but as it turns out, small bird law is your thing.  Experimentation is a GOOD thing provided you keep the big picture in mind: finding jobs, graduating, and passing the bar. 

Start a list on your phone of things to Google that don't make sense.  Nobody expects you to be fluent in the law student vernacular just yet, and you should feel free to find answers in the way that is most comfortable to you, whether thats asking classmates, finding a mentor, or via google.  (I'm a little google biased.  I can almost always google things faster than I can text someone a question, and I'm a really good example of someone who was always too shy to approach professors.  But I NEVER let myself be left out of the loop because I didn't know what law review or a clerkship was).

Honestly, that's it.

Some blogs will suggest books to read prior to law school.  If you want to read Getting to Maybe during your last free summer, cool.  If you want to binge Game of Thrones, cool.  If you want to follow Taylor Swift on tour, cool. 

If anything is really important they will probably tell you ten more times before its actually relevant. 

ONE LAST PIECE OF ADVICE:  Take any free highlighter that you are offered.  Eat a reasonable portion of free food that you are offered (buying new suits every year is very expensive).


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