There’s a subject on this law school blog that keeps coming up, and that subject is competition. When a lot of people apply to law school, they think that they will be just fine. After all, didn’t they already endure four to five years of undergrad?
Aw, how cute. You think that you know everything there is to going to law school because you went to undergrad. I hate to be smug, but you really have no idea what waits for you in law school until you’ve either heard the war stories of actual law students, or that you’ve gone through the process yourself. It sounds odd, but trust me — there’s so much that I know now that I really didn’t know when I first entered law school.
Now, back to the topic at hand. Competition is al around you. There are a lot of people talking about competition, and it’s something that you will need to make sure that you’re aware of in order to do your very best.
I don’t mean to harp on the subject — I’ve probably made some enemies as a result of my comments. But you have to understand what you’re walking into. Law school is all about being the best, getting the best grades, getting into the spotlight at every turn and …oh yeah, and being the best!
You have to understand that no matter how good your grades from undergrad were, there’s someone better than you. Even if you had a perfect 4.0, there’s somebody that not only carried a perfect 4.0, but they were also in a fraternity or sorority and led countless service programs over the course of their college career. That’s hard to compete with. No matter how many activities you think you have under your belt, there’s bound to be someone that’s dug a little deeper and came up with more activities — where they had leadership positions, not just membership. It’s something that you will need to cope with early on, unless you like running the risk of burning out and failing miserably, of course.
The better approach is to go ahead and get used to the fact that yes, everyone in law school really is trying to compete with you. You don’t want to feel like this isn’t the case, because then you would just be deluding yourself into a false sense of security. Trust me; you don’t want to do that.
I went through my first year with a girl that didn’t really believe me. I come from a family of lawyers, so it isn’t like I was really clueless about law school as much as some other people were. I tried to share my knowledge and experience with the other girl, but she was convinced that she didn’t need anyone’s help.
Law school cut into her pretty bad. Between the realization that she was paying so much money just for the privilege of working so hard, she felt alone when she started to get bad grades on her papers and other coursework. Does that mean that she wasn’t smart? No, but she really wasn’t cut out for everything that it takes to be a successful law student. She really lacked time management skills as well, and this caused her to miss a lot of sleep in the long run.
I felt bad for her, really. But you have to learn not only that competition exists, but also how to deal with it:
First and foremost, you don’t want to feel like it’s impossible to handle competition. It really is. You need to realize that you have a passion and a dream of becoming a lawyer, or at least having a bright career in the world of law. This means that there’s no reason to feel like you can’t get anything accomplished — you can. It’s just a matter of thinking about what you ultimately want to do.
From there, you need to develop your support team from the very beginning. You shouldn’t have to feel afraid of competition when you’ve taken the time to assemble the best support team in the world. Why are they the best support team in the world? Because they’ve done everything in their power to make you look like a star, that’s why! A support team shines when they have skills that you don’t. It can be humbling to receive help from someone that’s so good at something hat you’re not good at, but this will make you a much more well rounded student in law school.
So yes, at the end of the day everyone really is trying to compete with you in law school. But if you focus on the end goal and study hard, you’ll find that this really isn’t that big of a deal after all!