School sucks, I know. And while Bluebooking doesn’t do any favors, the actual law learning — the thing you went there to do after all — isn’t really all that bad. What gets you are the accoutrements on the way to your JD: getting a bad grade on a legal writing paper produced in conditions that are nothing like legal writing outside of the classroom, discovering that right-leaning members of your cohort bring loaded guns to the classroom, waking up missing the pre-World War III worries portion of your pandemic grad school experience, etc.
These hardships are so ubiquitous that even laypeople shoo away criticizing the hardships that ought not be endemic to law school, like professors being openly bigoted, even going so far as to describe these events as good because “students who can’t deal with a little racism don’t have what it takes to be lawyers” or some other nonsense.
You won’t get that from me. Home for me is a spot in New Jersey not too far off from Philly. During the second half of my 2L year at WashU, COVID hit. Because COVID hysteria wasn’t enough (at this point, the government was telling us to make our own ersatz masks) there were Black Lives Matter protests and armed Whitelash spikes to boot. Racial tensions were high — St. Louis isn’t that far from Ferguson, and thoughts of home weren’t as calming as they usually were, given that Philadelphia police were gassing protestors in places I recognized and deputizing random white dudes with baseball bats to enforce curfews in others. That said, I had to push my thoughts of paranoia about the start of another civil war aside for what really mattered — I had intellectual property law readings to do.
The thing that hit hardest during that extended crisis was how fluidly indeterminacy coupled with habit. COVID was novel and hotspots across the nation were preparing for conflict as shopping areas boarded up their windows for protection at the close of day. We all did. Because we realized that while not everyone has answers, we all have deadlines. And as you obsessively research or hear trickle developments of geopolitical events, the expected emails about self-care and time management from your school’s administration probably won’t do much to help. But it might help to know that you aren’t in this alone.
You aren’t the only one struggling to find motivation to summarize caselaw while the world burns. The realization that political and existential crises can make law school feel like a series of side quests doesn’t make you unfit to be a lawyer. It just means that, despite how jaded you feel at times, things still matter. And because they matter, take a break if you need to. Your bankruptcy books will still be there when you come back.
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at email@example.com and by tweet at @WritesForRent.
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