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Nobody Likes a Monday Morning Quarterback: Law School Advice

By Courtney Plante’

Whether it was Scalia’s DOMA dissent or the lawyering in the Zimmerman trial, regardless of the most recent big decision, there’s someone (or a whole lot of someone’s) waiting in the wings to ruminate on what they would have done differently. This all-too-common phenomenon is what I like to call “Spectator’s Vision.” No matter the inability of a professional to get everything right, everyone else has all the answers, albeit, after the big play has long been over.

The same goes for law school. 1L’s are told to make the most of their first year and that they “will do just fine” as they drudge through endless lines of obscure cases. Similarly, 3L’s are told that in hindsight the entire Bar Exam process was not “that bad” (yeah, right). Let’s get real, most of us could breeze through law school the second time around. But neither law school cheerleader is better than the one who has never been at all, like the friend who is a teacher or medical professional, and who knows little to nothing about the dredges of finals week but are certain their experience has been equally brutal and/or are relentless with their words of well-meaning but unnecessary encouragement.

As a newly minted 3L, I am now being barraged with early career advice. Seems like a running theme is “enjoy school while you can,” followed by “don’t [insert nuanced first job debauchery here].” I’m working on enjoying my last year, although it is sometimes easier said than done. So, while summer is still in the air and the new semester is still a few weeks away, rather than running the risk of passing on useless advice to the entering class or those who are taking the Bar this week, I’ll end my monthly post with this final word from a senior attorney in Beckley who attended the College of Law: “Don’t worry about knowing the right answer until you’re asked a question about it.” Because delaying stress is something that everyone can do correctly the first time around, even those fortunate non-lawyers. Enjoy the rest of summer, all!

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