19 August 2008

Why am I in law school again?

Posted by Shake sense into me

I'm freaked out.  Let's just start there.

I feel as though I am the only one in my classes who doesn't get it.  Everyone else seems to be able to come up with an answer when called on, but I can't.  Sometimes, the answer is right in front of me.
It reminds me of elementary school, when my 6th grade teacher asked a simple question but I was distracted and missed it.  He called on me to answer a question, and gave me two possible answers to choose from: higher or lower.    I chose lower.  The question was what size number does multiplying numbers together give you.  I was wrong, and he shouted it out in class, just like this, "WRONG!"
In that situation, I was honestly not paying attention.
In law school, I am paying attention.  I am paying extremely diligent attention.  I am taking notes on everything.  But when it comes time for me to answer a question - whether I am called on randomly or not - I can't come up with an answer.  I've thought about this a lot in my current state of despair - which is a terrible state to be in when analyzing something - but I think my problem is that I'm not understanding the wording of the questions, and I'm missing important links in rules from cases I'm assigned.
I knew law school would be hard.  I bought E&E's to help me through, and I'm reading those before I read the casebook so I can understand better when I do the assigned reading.  But this doesn't seem to help me when it comes time to apply what I'm learning.  Ugh.  I am not sure what to do - whether it's too early for me to really even try pushing through the material because it's going to be beat into me by my professors anyways, or whether I really need to buckle down and do twice, three, four, or five times as much work to get the answers.
And now, remember when I was all upset about my colleagues pestering me about issues?  Well now I know why they were so worried.  And now I feel like a dimwit for not knowing what it was; like I should have been on it from day 0.
Sometimes, when I'm faced with trying to answer a question, someone sitting next to me whispers the answer to me.  But in the face of fear and embarrassment it doesn't help, it only makes it worse.
Right now I think I might be that person that drops out of law school because my grades aren't good enough.  
Looks like that good ol' slacker label might stick to me.  Or maybe it will be modified to "stupid."  No one has asked me to join any study groups as of yet, and I've received a few "No thanks" when I've inquired.  This sucks.
Today was only the second day.
I actually thought about going to the school counselor about all of this, because I'm feeling a mixture of distress from my lack of understanding in class, combined with being overwhelmed with the amount of work, add to that fear of rejection by my peers, and multiply it by my lack of self esteem.  The result is negative.


Law Ingenue said...

What you are feeling is normal. Being in my second year, I can assure you that it gets easier as each term progresses.

The most important thing you can do right now is read your cases, take good notes, go to class, take even more notes on what the professor is discussing, and breathe. Don't worry if you don't have all the answers. After class, try to review your notes to see if things start to make sense.

Each week of the term, try to skim through your notes to refresh the information in your head. If something still doesn't make sense, make an appointment with your prof and ask him/her to help you understand the concept. They may seem scary but they really do want to help you. By the end of the term, you will know this stuff cold.

Silly Little Law Student said...

1. Don't worry that you may not "get it." It's quite common actually. Anyone who says they totally understand things is a bloody liar. Don't worry about feeling like you're missing the important links/rules in assigned cases, your brain is just not used to the thinking in law school yet, but it will be soon. The first semester is the hardest for this.

2. Leave the E&Es til the end of the semester. They'll be a good recap for what you've been learning. (or at the very least read it AFTER you've done the day's reading to help in application). Right now just read through your reading assignments, maybe try and take notes while reading. The reason you go to class is for the professor to clarify what you were supposed to get out of the reading. It might take a while, but it will fall into place.

3. You will eventually find your own way to study, pay NO attention to what your classmates are doing. It will only freak you out. (This will survive through 3L, b/c I have a friend that I can't even speak to during finals b/c she insists upon telling me every detail of her studying).

4. You don't need a study group. Just like listening to how other people study.... this will probably just increase the freaking out. Law students feed off of each others' neuroses.

5. The "why am I even here" feelings... totally normal. They will pass. I promise you.

6. It's only Day 2. Stop. Breathe. RELAX. There is far worse shit ahead. Don't worry so much or you'll drive yourself to a ledge.

Butterflyfish said...

I disagree with Silly on one point. I read the E&Es before I read the cases and it made much more sense that way. Eventually. It helps.

Otherwise, she's right

Lawful Lady said...

About to start my first year too, so I can't offer any guidance, but I do want to say chin up! Many of your classmates probably feel the same way you do, but just show it differently. Try not to read too much into classmates' reactions. A "no thanks" might just mean that person doesn't want a study group or is uncomfortable too. I'm sure it doesn't mean he/she hates you. I won't say anymore becaue I start Monday and then I may be freaking out. Good luck!

Jeanne said...

What people sound like they know in class has little to do with what they know during finals.

Also, law school is a process. Teaching you to "think like a lawyer" involves taking your brain apart. It hurts to have your brain taken apart, but that doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. Hang in there.

Brooklyn said...

Dont give up! I don't care if I have to read the case 4 times! I dont care if i have to pull up the precedent cases reference, I answer the qs at the end of the case and I look it up online until i freakin get it. And I dont feel like ive learned anything yet and Im scared to. Its a huge financial commitment but practice is key--Im not saying i have this all under control but me telling u to keep at it helps me remember to keep at it.