Everyone talks about how crazy hard 1L is, and that’s certainly true. It’s a completely new experience, and it requires being focused and on your study game 100 percent. But there is a new and different challenge that emerges in 2L: namely, learning to balance the competing demands of school and life.
During 1L, everyone is pretty much in the same boat. We’re all taking the same classes, and everyone (students, administrators, and professors included) expects your whole life to revolve around school. For me, that was a pretty joyful experience. I loved my section immensely, so going to class and seeing them every day was really fun. I also loved the material, because it was more intellectually stimulating and engaging than what I had been doing in my time between college and law school. So spending time after class discussing the issues with my section mates was actually not a chore for me; it was the highlight of my day!
(As a quick aside to demonstrate my supreme nerdiness, I give you the following story: when I got to Columbia University, I was devastated to find out that people didn’t actually sit in the halls of the dorms discussing the Iliad like the brochures said they did. But people actually DO sit in the halls of NYU Law and discuss Palsgraf, so you can imagine my general excitement when my high school dream finally came true.)
Now comes 2L, though, and the focus shifts away from school and toward work. There are a lot more commitments, ranging from journals and student organizations to clinics and internships. Everyone is rushing from one activity to the next, which makes the impromptu hallway discussions shorter and rarer. For a school-lover like myself, this is not an altogether welcome change. I miss the after-class discussions, the general single-minded focus on a shared academic experience.
Of course, there are many positives to being surrounded by people whose interests have begun to diverge. I learn a lot more about different areas of the law as my friends begin to enter them, and each meeting with my Section 5 buddies is all the more sweet for it being less ordinary. And I certainly am glad that my circle of friends has expanded to include people outside my section (although the flip side is that I don’t get to see friends from my section whose career interests don’t intersect with mine). And of course, on the practical side, it’s always good to get in the habit of balancing competing demands on your time, because that’s what will be expected of you as a lawyer in any field.
But I still spend a few moments each week thinking fondly of the intensity of 1L, although the grass is pretty green on this side of the summer, too.