Semester (Lost) At Sea
by Jamison Koehler on February 1, 2013
Guest Post by Ross O’Neill
Looking back, the first semester of law school was a whirlwind of fun, stress, hard work and more reading than I’d ever imagined. The reward? Patiently waiting the month of January for grades to be published followed by sighs of displeasure or shrieks of happiness. Regardless, I hope that the hours of toil and hair-pulling will help build the character and work ethic needed to enter and ultimately succeed in the legal profession.
Notwithstanding the grades results, I march through the morass of never-ending cases, supplements, and lectures, confident I have gained what no grade can quantify. Here is a sample:
My four years of undergraduate study in total pale in comparison to the work given in first semester of law school. Rather than picking things up on the go, like I have much of my life, law school requires reading, then re-reading, before thinking I understand a case or topic…only to have my teachers shatter that illusion. Yet, through intense listening and forming small study groups to share ideas, by the end of the semester, I feel my confidence growing in my class answers as my overall capabilities strengthen. In that sense, I am able to calm the tornado to a more timid gust.
The incredible amount of preparation and attention to detail is what makes law so weak and strong at the same exact moment. An entire case has the ability to hinge on the interpretation of one word, and judges’ holding’s depict the nuanced brilliance lawyers are capable of using to examine those details.
The classes are all different, yet equally appealing in their own ways. Criminal Law and Torts each has enjoyable aspects, Civil Procedure very few. I particularly enjoy the leeway given to discuss rules within Tort law. While proximate cause remains the bane of most 1L existences, learning where and when it fits in a negligence case proves nevertheless fascinating to me.
Finally, over winter break I worked for a small law office in Philadelphia researching and helping one of the partners on two open cases. Both involved personal injury disputes. My first dip into the “real world” legal profession proved enjoyable, particularly intensive research followed by writing two briefs I provided the partner. The rush came from being able to put to use the tools gained over the course of the semester. Overall, I am enthusiastic and intrigued by the thought of one day becoming a lawyer. The road, I know, is just beginning and the first stage appears in the mountains. I will know the flatlands when they come, if they ever do.
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