During my 2L year I had an experience that changed the way I showed up for class, and really every occasion. I was sitting in one of our school’s lounge areas, diligently reading my Bankruptcy casebook (thrilling stuff), when a state Supreme Court Justice sat down next to me and struck up a conversation. He explained that he was making a cameo appearance in a class and had arrived a little early. I was more than happy to have an excuse to stop reading about the automatic stay, but was also immediately grateful for two things. First, that I knew who he was (it would have been really embarrassing if I had mistaken him for a BarBri rep). Second, that I was going to my internship after class and was therefore dressed at least somewhat like a studious, responsible law student.
This was an opportunity to meet and speak with one of the most important judges in the state and I saw the value in making a good impression, not just with my knowledge, but also with the way I presented myself. Call me superficial if you must, but the manner in which you present yourself often sends a strong message about your attitude, your commitment, and your goals. It’s important to consider the message your demeanor and appearance are sending and make an effort to present yourself in the best possible way regardless of whether your attending a social event, going to work, or just attending class.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to change your style or wear a suit to class every day (in fact, please don’t.) All I’m saying is that you need to be aware of the message you want to send and be sure that your outward appearance corresponds with that message, even when you’re doing something innocuous like studying before class.
Law schools can sometimes be a little bit like airplanes – you never know who is going to sit down next to you. Lawyers and judges may be making appearances at your school for meetings, fundraisers or even to teach, and you want to make a good first impression if you have the opportunity to meet them. Putting a little extra effort into how you present yourself will also make a good impression on your Deans, professors, and even fellow students. If you look pulled together, neat, and appropriate (i.e. no pajamas, workout clothes, etc.) for class, you’ll be prepared to make a good impression on anyone you might cross paths with.
So be sure you’re putting some effort into presenting yourself in the best light possible each and every day – you never know when a state Supreme Court Justice might interrupt your study time.
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Other helpful pre-1L posts:
- Pre-1L Summer Checklist
- The People You Will Meet in Law School
- Want to Get Good Law School Grades? Become a Self-Starter
- How to Think Like a Successful Law Student
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