Change your perspective

First-year law student Jamie Treto

Law school can be daunting. The dreaded cold calls, the heavy reading and the sleepless nights are often big topics when considering law school. When the school organized a meet-up at my small section professor’s house a few days before the first day of 1L year, I took the opportunity and asked a 3L in attendance, “Is it true? Is it that bad?” In truth, I don’t remember what she told me. Now that I am almost finished with my 1L year, I think the appropriate question to have asked is, “How do I make my law school experience better?”

Now there are obvious answers to this question. Make friends, spend time outside of the law school and find an outside network of support. While these are great suggestions, one mentor made a suggestion I had never thought about. She told me to change my perspective. 

As incoming 1Ls, we often get so caught up in the rumors and fears of law school that we forget why we came here in the first place. For some of us, it’s our unwavering passion for social justice or prison reform. For others, it’s our love of learning and the quench for knowledge. Whatever your “why” is, hold onto it and remind yourself of it when things get tough. As my mentor said to me, “Stop viewing law school as a chore and view it as a hobby.” Those 13 words have changed my law school experience substantially. This whole time, I had taught my brain to view the law as that very difficult, hard to comprehend monster that kept me up late at night. When before law school, it was a subject I used to enjoy reading about in my free time and would spend hours researching. 

Changing my perspective on assignments and classes made a significant difference. Walking into the second semester, I stopped viewing readings as long and strenuous and started seeing them almost as a new episode of my favorite crime show. What crazy story am I going to read about in tort law? Isn’t it crazy that people have rights to the air above their property? I was so focused on perfecting my study plan that I forgot just how much I enjoyed reading the law and hearing about real-life cases.

So, I urge you to never look at the law as a chore. Do not let the fears of law school consume you. Instead, remember why you came here in the first place. When you stop viewing readings as a chore, it becomes surprising how quickly you read and how much more time you have to enjoy other hobbies and interests. Most importantly, take your time and enjoy the experience. For many of us, this is likely the last time we will get to explore our intellectual interests and be surrounded by like-minded individuals with similar interests.

— Jamie Treto is a 1L from Garden City and a KU Law Student Ambassador.