You are about to experience dramatic changes to your social life. It will be poked, prodded, gouged.
Just don’t lose it. (Your social life, that is. Don’t lose your mind either, for that matter.)
Do You Have to Give Up All Your Existing Friends?
In whatever your preparation for law school, you have likely developed some understanding that it will be demanding of your time. Some of you may even believe that adjustments to your life must include adjusting the fun out of it.
I recall telling my group of friends toward the end of last summer that they were not likely to see me for some time.
Sure, I was being a little dramatic — but my premonition proved right. And I had everything to do with its coming to fruition.
For starters, I mistreated my time. Two perplexing notions contributed to this result:
- All time (other than that spent in class and asleep) was for studying.
- Any of the above time I did not spend studying begat guilt.
If you recall my confession from my first post — that I do enjoy the socializing — then you can guess the effect: I felt guilty. A lot.
Make New Friends, But Keep the Old
So why did I not see my friends?
Because I made new ones!
Law school friendships form in a petri dish. The experience is so unique, so taxing, that friendships develop in three months that would take years ‘on the outside.’
The one-two-punch of the above was that much of my time was spent studying, and fun got short shrift. The lines blurred between studying and socializing to the extent that studying took hours longer than it needed to, and socializing was never isolated, never maximized.* But you can do better than that.
Take Time for Fun
My advice can be summed up in one, oft-mentioned, well-advised, little-followed maxim:
Work Smarter, Not Harder
But, easier said than done, eh? We have all experienced working up to a deadline, when in reality the work could have been completed in less time. Schoolwork is a de facto deadline.
To combat this approach, I suggest carving out thoughtful chunks of time for fun.
Some choices are more obvious: take an hour for lunch, and just eat (don’t study). Throw in the towel at a reasonable hour on a Friday, like after dinner, and get out of the house (or the law library)!
Other choices may take more careful consideration. After experiencing the amorphous study/socialize days of my first semester, I enrolled in a hip hop class second-semester. One hour, two days a week — a commitment anyone can make. I even went on a weekend camping trip second-semester!
Protect Your Pre-law Friendships
Now, for those pre-law school friendships, the same advice applies. Do not shelve them.
I understand my experience may be different than most because I chose to attend school in a city where I already had a tight-knit group of friends, but you may have some that you need to call, or to send a postcard. Schedule it. And do not think for a moment that you have become unrelatable.
Your brain on law school is different, but I guarantee they would rather see you in this state than not at all.
And, in fact, non-law school friends can help free you from tunnel-vision (see post #1) — which you should be doing everything in your power to resist.
Law school is hard, and time-consuming, but it can be made easier by not letting it consume you. There is fun to be had (and dare I say some parts of law school itself is fun?!), but it is up to you to grab it.
*(Except for the various school-sponsored events. Be careful with these — they happen frequently and are teeming with 1L’s. Don’t let them affect your composure in a morning class.)
Stay tuned for a companion-piece on the archetypes you are likely to meet your first year, and the ones you are likely to befriend.
— – —
Did you miss any of the other posts in this series? Catch up now!
- Lessons from My 1L Year: Introduction
- Lessons from My 1L Year: You Don’t Have to Live in the Law Library
- Lessons from My 1L Year: Be Careful with Study Groups
- Lessons from My 1L Year: Make Friends
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Thanks for that important information, its really helpful.
I am so glad! Thank you for reading.
And feel free to contact us with any questions/concerns you may have leading up to and during the school year.
I am a recent JD grad. I say bury your head in the books and don’t come up for air until electives start.
Why? Good luck finding a job if you are not top 5% of your class anymore.
So, so grateful to read this! I too am attending law school in a city in which I already have a close-knit group of friends, and I must admit that I have been a bit apprehensive about how/ if I’ll be able to maintain those friendships while in law school. I appreciate your perspective, and I can’t wait to start school in just a few short weeks!
Good luck with starting law school! I also attended law school in a city where I had a solid group of friends and (with a little effort) I was able to see my non-law school friends really consistently. In fact, it was a good break from law school — and a way to keep a bit more perspective. Thanks for reading and enjoy your 1L year.