Law school makes you a new person. There are many ways that it changes you, good and bad, but its main goal is to provide you a new way to think, write, and argue. And you’re thrown into this situation without much awareness of what’s to come. And when you’re in those classes, it can be really frustrating because all the ways you used to think, write, and argue are not necessarily wrong, but they’re just not right for this setting.
Learning new skills is frustrating in general (hello, all my impatient Aries bebes!), but law school makes it worse because it also plays people against each other and makes people feel dumb for not being a “natural.” And heres where I remind people that no one is a natural–maybe some things come easier but all these skills can be developed and cultivated. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. So if you’re finding yourself becoming disheartened in writing class or during your oral arguments, know that you’re just at the beginning and with more time and practice you will get better.
But another frustration that comes with these new skills is the stiffness that comes with professionalism and valuing civility over all. The stoicism that’s demanded of the profession when arguing and presenting a case—even zealousness is supposed to come with some decorum. Learning to behave like this can feel like we’re creating a persona or suppressing ourselves. And some of that is true–code-switching is very real. But consider viewing this from a different perspective: that each case, client, and firm will require something different from you. Being able to acclimate to those needs will make you a stronger attorney.
So yes, it’s ok to feel frustrated as you’re learning these new processes but take hear that it’s something you can learn.
- Focus on becoming a stronger writer with both grammar (my bible) and by reading the cases thoroughly to learn more than just the bottom line rule but also how the arguments and analysis are crafted.
- Consider watching or listening to appellate oral arguments–arguably these are the attorneys at the top of their game and by observing you can pick up cues and ideas on how to argue your case.
- If you’re considering what to do for the summer, look for opportunities that will allow you to interact with clients. Getting to see how attorneys interact with clients, counsel them, respond to their questions/concerns, will heighten your skills.
If you’re feeling a little down because these challenges are well, challenging, don’t despair! Keep pushing yourself to put in the work and with the gift of time and experience you’ll see how much easier and better it gets.