As the end of this academic year looms, it seemed like now was the perfect time to reflect back upon the lessons learned during the course of my first year at Harvard Law School. There is no doubt that I leave this prestigious institution a wiser and more mature individual, and after only one year no less. So I figured this would be a good opportunity to detail some of the lessons that I have learnt, in order that current and future students may have the opportunity to benefit from my newly acquired wisdom.
The first thing I learnt this year is that FYL instructors tend to not have any sense of humor. In particular, jokes with reference to playing online video games were frowned upon. This was a hard lesson to learn, but one that served me dearly through the rest of my time in the First Year Lawyering program. This lesson was probably second in importance only to the realization that everything important said in the BSA workshop will be emailed to us afterwards in a format that is much more understandable than actually trying to listen to it while presented in class. Thursday nights were a lot less onerous after that discovery.
This year also taught me how fun it is to drink the Kool-Aid. Not only does it taste good but it is accompanied by free coffee in the Hark at 7:30 AM on Monday mornings. The best part about it may be the joy of watching all the idealistic individuals blanch and run for their lives when they are told that “defending the stupid is a noble thing.”
I learnt that the Hark is a “beer and wine building.” This lesson didn’t sink in so quickly and unfortunately I had to be told this on numerous occasions. One of those occasions also showed us all how FYL can almost be bearable when enough people are hammered. Watching people get hit by the door on their way into a Hauser classroom can be funny on a Monday morning.
I discovered the beauty of working on a journal, the endless pleasure that accompanies the subciting process. I learnt how to make photocopies and operate a microfilm machine.
I discovered why no one goes into the International Law Library unless forced at gunpoint. I learnt how to request books from the rare book collection and how to lay them flat on nice padded cushions. I also discovered the beauty of having numerous editors between you and the final product. This way anything that requires too much effort can be left to the next level to work out. After all, if we 1Ls did a good enough job what would all the 2L have left to accomplish? We would not want to take anything away from the 2-3L students, they have way too little to do anyways.
Reading The Record each week clued me in to many secrets to survival here. I learnt that there is some alumnus who never got over the fact that he was charged tuition and will insist on writing constantly to urge us to rebel against the establishment that is forcibly subjugating us to all forms of cruel and unusual punishment. (Yawn.) Oh, they also don’t pay the administrative staff enough apparently. The Record also told me about secret passageways where staff gather, and hippos and penguins that plot together. I learnt all about princess parties for delicate females, and Professor Fried’s love of obscenities. I learnt all about sports, and read some nice poems. I finally came to understand why first year on-campus interviewing began on Valentines Day. I even managed to get published a column critiquing the law schools urinals.
All in all, this has been a very informative and productive year for me. I think I managed to make it through my first year without burning any books or stealing anyone’s notes. I think there may even be a few people left in the law school that are willing to acknowledge me when they pass me in the hall. I guess I can say that I am really looking forward to coming back next year as a learned and experienced 2L, so that I can continue to learn the facts of life. Thank you, Harvard Law School.
DK is a 1L.