Before coming to law school, I spent several years as a firefighter and paramedic. Teamwork was very important to everything we did. We trained as a team, worked as a team and ate as a team. Just about everything that we did was a group effort. Within my first few weeks in law school, I realized how different this experience would be. Those first few weeks, I felt a little lost. My classmates and I were all having the same struggles, yet we were all going at them alone. Quickly, I figured that law school was made easier through teamwork as well. I soon figured that there were three obvious areas in which building a team helps in law school: academics, fitness and social life.
Academics is largely something that you do own your own. There is no substitute for reading your material and paying attention in class. I did find that building a small study group was a tremendous help in order to understand the material, and getting over that extra hump. My group and I meet a couple of times a week and create our outlines together. We would bounce ideas off each other, help explain concepts to each other and talk to professors together if we get stuck. I found that creating these academic teams were a vital part of being able to attack the material 1L year.
Going from a job where I was active the majority of the day to the sedentary lifestyle of a law student was a shock for me. This coupled with all of the free pizza really can affect your fitness and health levels. Countless studies have said that working out is crucial to academic success. A healthy fitness level helps with focus and actually increases your energy levels once you develop a routine. I quickly found that one of the best ways to continuously go to the gym was basketball. I have a core team of law students that play together 2-3 times a week. I realized that It really helps to keep you honest about going to the gym when other people are relying on you to show up.
I was given sound advice by a former law student regarding the importance of your social life during law school. Very few people understand what it is like to go to law school. Venting with a team of law school peers was especially helpful to have. While these opportunities could range from a happy hour, pancakes at Perkins, to playing board games; it is always great to have that opportunity to decompress with people who know exactly what you’re going through.
Finding my team in law school has been essential to my success, but it is different for everyone. My advice to you is to be open to advice. Watch what successful students and lawyers have done that works. Watch what they have done that doesn’t work and find your own thing. At the end of the day, you have to do what works for you.
— Jeff Shull is a 2L from Lenexa and a KU Law Student Ambassador.