Ask Amanda

BY AMANDA GREGORY

Before responding to the letter below, which I clearly made up myself, I wanted to make a few acknowledgements, as this is my last column. First, I would like to thank Adam White for coming up with the idea for this column and asking me to write it, despite the fact that the April Fools’ Fenno clearly demonstrated that he could have done a better job with it than I have. Also, thanks to Clinton Dick, who I still haven’t met, for taking a chance on a small-town girl whose own life should be a testament to the fact that no one should ever take her advice. Finally, I would like to extend a special thanks to Katie Biber, Jane Maschka, Jon Rotter, and Veronica Lei, as during most weeks, they seem to be the only people in the entire school who have any “problems.” Also, because they rock.

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Dear Amanda,

I am a directionless admitted student/1L/2L. What advice do you, a graduating 3L, with unparalleled brilliance and experience, have to impart to me about the next three years/two years/year?

Yours,

Do I Need to Bother Making Up a Name?

Dear Do,

I am delighted to pass on all of the wisdom that I have acquired during my time at Harvard Law School. You will note that none of this wisdom is even tangentially related to law.

First and most importantly, get your third year paper done as soon as humanly possible. It would be best to get it done your 1L year, because while you may not be aware of it, that is when you will have the most free time and the fewest obligations. If that fails, get it done your 2L year. Your friends will mock you, but you’ll be able to point at them and laugh the next year. Do not, under any circumstances, put it off until the second semester of your third year. If you do, it will hang over your head like the freaking Sword of Damocles and you will be miserable and you will resent other last semester of law school deadlines and you will truly hate all of your friends who are done with their papers and you will ask yourself why you didn’t follow the good advice that you read in that column in The Record.

Second, in order to pass your classes, you either need to attend class or to do the reading. You will never need to do both. In many situations, if you have an especially good outline, you may not need to do either. Unless you want to graduate with honors or something, in which case you should probably be writing into Fred Pollock’s column instead of mine. Also, generally speaking, you should take as many “Law and . . .” courses as possible. Eliminating reading, class attendance, and burdens created by non-“Law and . . .” courses will free up a great deal of your time. If you have read my past columns, you already know that such time should not be spent on extracurricular activities. More accurately, time should not be spent taking leadership positions in extracurricular activities. You should, however, join as many fun organizations as possible, without getting actively involved in planning. You should choose organizations with large budgets that are spent predominantly on social events, with no pesky duties linked to membership. The Texas Club, the California Club, and the Harvard Asia Law Society are prime candidates.

Third, do not nap in the middle of the day. Napping is great, but at law school, it’s your body’s way of telling you that it’s dissatisfied with the life your living. If you’re napping in the middle of the day, it’s because you’re avoiding reading. But there are better ways to avoid reading! Go to the MFA, have the cheese plate, and see some art. Go to Newbury Street and buy an Armani dress that you can’t afford. Go to the Public Gardens, even in winter. As much as I hate to admit it, there are tolerable places in and around Boston. In order to remain a happy and healthy individual, you should try to spend lots of time at these places, rather than in the insulated environment of HLS.

On that note, fourth, go to Foxwoods. If you believe everything that the hiring partner at my firm and poker professional/HLS alum Andy Bloch tell you, you can learn everything you need to know about being a good lawyer from becoming a good poker player. However, weekend trips to Foxwoods are entirely overrated. It is too crowded there on weekends and you have to wait forever to sit down at a table. Only go on weekdays. The bonus of skipping class will make the gambling all the sweeter.

Fifth, I am rapidly running out of space, and there is so much more left to say. Never eat in the Hark. Buy things in the live auction at the Public Interest Auction. Particularly, buy Virginia Wise’s dinner. It is *amazing*. There’s a reason that I have bought it two years in a row. Be nice to the people you think will reach high public office. Don’t take yourself or your time at law school too seriously. Finally, the best resource that Harvard Law School has is its students. So, find interesting people to befriend. Almost everyone here is amazing and brilliant and whatnot, but there may not be that many people that you want to spend lots of time with. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the most interesting people are necessarily the people who sit next to you in class or live next to you in Gropius. You’ll have to really branch out to find the people who are willing to be truly useful roommates or to peg snowballs at people as they walk into Torts or to watch other people play poker for over twelve hours or to rush over at midnight with boxes and tape when you’re having a packing crisis or to still talk to you after you lose the keys to the rental car in the Red River and yell at them for being too nice or to offer to bring over chicken soup whenever you’re sick. Look for these people and keep them around long after you’ve forgotten the holding of Pennoyer v. Neff. Which basically means, try to stay friends with them until your CivPro final and beyond.

Yours,

Amanda

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