By: Theresa Daniel, Guest Contributor
Many complaints about law school arise from the competition between the students. This competitiveness can lead to students cutting computer cords during finals to students erasing notes from the entire semester from your computer while you are in the bathroom. Have I personally experienced any of this foolishness while at Ohio Northern? No and most law students won’t because these things like many other things you hear about is just another rumor.
Yes law school is hard. It is a difficult place to learn and yes people are competitive. But the true competition is not when you leave your computer in the library to go use the bathroom, the true competition walks past you everyday and looks at you and smiles, but secretly want to tear you down. That’s right! Your biggest competition is to your left and your right when you sit in class and they are you colleagues.
Friends are people you can depend on, people that send you notes when you miss class, and/or listen to you vent when you didn’t get the grade you thought you deserved. Friends are the people who actually care about you; however, colleagues are people you go to class with that may help you if it is beneficial to them. Colleagues talk about you and spin the rumor mill all because they do not know you or do not understand you.
But do not get it wrong; as much as you need friends, you definitely need colleagues. When you graduate law school, colleagues are the people that are going to refer clients to you when a client comes to them, but your firm does not handle that type of litigation. Colleagues are beneficial to you; so the question in your mind should be how do I handle the competition instead of how do I beat the competition.
Reality Check: Law school is not for everyone! Just because you like to argue and that people tell you, “You should go to law school” does not mean that you should. If you come to law school and do your absolute best and it turns out that you didn’t do well at all, then leave.
First, the ONLY competition you need to be worried about is yourself. There have been many days when I have to look in the mirror and say to myself that I am the only competitor that I am battling at law school. Other people’s grades do not matter. This allows you to help your colleagues instead of beating them down or doing the same actions that they do to you.
Second, do your best and then have zero regrets. That age-old saying that your mom used to tell you before you went to school, “do your best”, really does play a large role in law school. You can only do your personal best and even if you fail there is nobody to blame because you may just find out that law school is not for you.
Third, get over yourself. Law school is not undergraduate school. You cannot wait until the last minute to write that paper and expect a good grade. You cannot b.s. your way through a final exam. You cannot start the party on Wednesday and continue until Monday and expect to pass that class. It is time for a serious reality check, and sometimes the main person standing in your way between a B and C or a C and a D is you! Get over those bad habits and learn how to study and how to become more efficient.
Fourth, don’t mistake colleagues for friends. You cannot tell all your business to everyone! Some people will take that information and use it against you. The best idea is before you start spilling out all your private business, learn about that person first and be able to distinguish between a friend who wants you to succeed and a colleague who doesn’t care if you are here today or gone tomorrow.
Theresa Daniel is a first year law school student at Ohio Northern University and anticipates graduating the spring of 2012. She completed her undergraduate degree at Denison University in Granville, OH. One of Theresa’s favorite quotes is: “If you want to know, just ask!” That being said, feel free to contact the author directly with your comments and questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org