As a 0L in the summer before law school, I’ve been trying to read books, blogs and articles that give me an idea of not only what to expect in law school — besides loss of sleep and the damnation of my eternal soul — but also how to succeed once a law school zombie.
I’ve read Scott Turow’s epic “One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School”, and various jeremiads dedicated to lost innocence and sanity.
I’ve read advice on the best ways to brief a case, on when the best time is to start looking for a summer job, and, yes, on the importance of going to class.
But some of the most sensible advice for future law students so far has come from Stephanie West Allen and Jeffrey M. Schwartz, who state in article published in 2007 that the secret to law school zombie success is, you guessed it, brains.
Rather than get into the minutiae of case briefs, summer jobs, classes and exams, Allen and Schwartz advise law students to create well-rounded lives by being conscious of how law school rewires their brains and encourage them to become active participants in the process.
Yeah, I know it sounds like happy, hippie, tree-hugging type stuff, but bear with me.
Allen and Schwartz write that the mastery of the law is best attained by students who are self-aware, who create good habits, who learn to be cross-cultural and who learn how to cherish their ignorance.
The first two pieces of advice seemed like no-brainers to me: They basically boiled down to choosing books over beer, and studying steadily rather than sporadically.
The last two were not so straightforward, but ultimately made sense not just for law school but also for the post-law school professional world.
The cross-cultural lawyer, Allen and Schwartz state, is someone who can step outside of their law student and lawyer suits and just be regular, non-argumentative, non-aggravating people.
And by being cross-cultural, you’re able to cherish your ignorance.
What does that mean exactly?
Allen and Schwartz write: “Remember what it was like before you and all that information about the law. To use a phrase from Zen, remember your ‘beginner’s mind’. … Listen to non-lawyers and recall how you used to see things. … Someone stuck exclusively in the lawyer culture and lawyer knowledge can be very lonely.”
Everything that I’ve read up to now has been so aimed at immersing me in the law school culture, at telling me that to give myself over to the law school brain rewiring process, that it was refreshing to read Allen and Schwartz say that it’s OK to snap out of it once in a while.
Read the full article here.