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Dec
05

LAW STUDENT TO LAWYER

Three years of law school is now a concluded chapter. Now I am a recent graduate and new associate, but the experience of being a new associate has revived the same anxious, excited, and uneasy feelings from the first year of law school. As the newest associate in the office, I am not only new to the office, but also to the practice of law. In the past two months, I have learned many things, not only about just how not to practice law, but also about the shift from law school to practice.

One. What I learned in law school does matter not only for the dreaded bar exam, but in practice as well. All throughout my schooling, I, as well as many other students, questioned the reasons for learning various subject matters because we thought we would never need nor remember it. To this day, I stand by this statement about calculus, but such is not true for my law school courses. I left law school with the knowledge amassed from reading appellate cases and studying legal theories, which seemed abstract at the time. Now, in practice, to confront a legal issue, this once abstract knowledge is tapped into and applied to a concrete real-life situation. Even information learned during bar prep has been utilized in practice, leading me to conclude that almost all legal knowledge is good knowledge and law school courses are not high school calculus.

Two. Asking questions is the best way to learn. When I was in school, unless I was asked to speak, I was a quiet student who remained silent, even if I had a thought to share. Such a passive approach had to change as working in a vacuum and not expressing ideas to colleagues is unconducive to a collegial work environment. The saying that “there are no stupid questions” is usually used to encourage participation, although it did not quite work for me in school. Now, I have realized that if I do not ask questions, I am not learning all that I should and could be. Asking questions while tackling a task ensures that I put forth the highest quality final product possible. Simply and frequently asking “why?” when being given an assignment not only helps ensure that my thought process is in sync with my supervisor’s, it also teaches me about strategy driving the need for this task.

Three. Have a life. Whether it be spending time with friends and loved ones, hiking, reading, tuning in on Harry Potter weekend, exercising, etc., taking time to enjoy all the things that make me who I am has been essential to staying balanced and maintaining focus during this exciting and dramatic change from law student to lawyer. I was once advised that I would not be a lawyer 100% of the time, but I am a person 100% of the time and it is equally important to nurture the person behind the lawyer as it is to nurture the lawyer—a piece of advice that has proven to be true.