Wise sayings of a 3L on balance and law school grades

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solotee
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Wise sayings of a 3L on balance and law school grades

Postby solotee » Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:26 pm

Hi TLS,

I wanted to briefly contribute something to future and current law students before I graduate law school and enter the workforce.

I remain in the top 10% of the law school class and will most likely graduate in the top 10%. After 2.5 years of law school, I learned something I did not know coming into my first year. The lesson I learned is that the more time I took off during the semester to focus on myself, the better I did that semester. Allow me to explain by going through the structure of my semesters and subsequent results.

First Year of Law School

I focused exclusively on grades. I went out maybe 5 times during my first semester. I went out maybe 6 or 7 times during my second semester. In addition to studying every weekday and weeknight, I averaged 7 hours on Saturday and 7 hours on Sunday every single weekend. I did not come home for Thanksgiving, Spring break, or any other holiday. I worked.

Result: I finished exactly in the top 10%.

Consequences: My social relationships dwindled, I became unhealthy because I did not take time to work out. I was lonely and overworked. Furthermore, I was sick of law school and its mental toll on me.


Second Year of Law School


I decided to change things up since I secured a summer associate position. I literally missed the first three weeks of class my fall semester because of call backs. By this point, I had a girlfriend I met over the summer. I flew to visit her every weekend up until 2 weeks before exams began. I did no work over weekends.

Furthermore, I took almost every evening off to work out and hang out.

Results: I got all A's and A-'s.

Consequences: My happiness level shot up tenfold. I was living the life every weekend, exploring a different city with my girlfriend, hanging out with friends on weekdays, and getting in shape. I was very surprised by this phenomenon. People that worked harder than I did received very bad grades.

Third Year of Law School

I just received all of my fall semester grades. Best semester to date with difficult courses. I took more time off fall 2012 semester than I did in any other semester. Traveled every weekend, payed for a lot of full body massages, spent an enormous amount of time with friends and family, focused a tremendous amount of time on myself and my happiness.

What I've Learned

I don't mean to say that I did not work hard. I worked very hard. But by taking time off, my happiness level shot up tenfold. Taking time off forced me to focus only on what was necessary to get good grades; the bare essentials. Everything else was unnecessary noise. I got more out of one hour of study time than I did out of four hours of study time my first year of law school. Because I took time off, I was more engaged and captivated by the material. I was motivated and happy to be in law school. I worked hard, but I played harder.

Law school is very demanding and will suck the life out of you if you allow it to. I refused to be a victim of the law school system after my first year and performed better than if I just studied all the time. You not only deserve to take time off for yourself, but you need it. Your mental health requires it. My grades were not affected by the amount of time I took off. In fact, the more time I took off, the better my grades turned out. Don't feel guilty by taking time off, you're investing in your mental health and your ability to absorb more information when you come back refreshed.

Lastly, I'm not naturally smart. I got a 147 on the LSAT initially. I could only bring it up to 165 after a whole summer of studying. Further, if you heard me in class, you'd think I'm a below-median student. So this method can work for anyone as soon as you figure out how to take a law school exam.

timetoleave
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Re: Wise sayings of a 3L on balance and law school grades

Postby timetoleave » Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:05 pm

Sounds great to be able to afford flying every weekend, traveling every weekend, full-body massages. All while on a law student's budget

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OutCold
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Re: Wise sayings of a 3L on balance and law school grades

Postby OutCold » Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:14 pm

timetoleave wrote:Sounds great to be able to afford flying every weekend, traveling every weekend, full-body massages. All while on a law student's budget

That's all I was thinking as well.

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solotee
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Re: Wise sayings of a 3L on balance and law school grades

Postby solotee » Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:17 pm

I may be 20,000 dollars more in debt over the three year period I wasn't being frugal, but in hindsight, it was worth it in my situation.

Everyone has their own definition of taking time off for themselves. It doesn't necessarily have to mimic my definition of play.

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bizzybone1313
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Re: Wise sayings of a 3L on balance and law school grades

Postby bizzybone1313 » Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:23 pm

I think his argument is possibly flawed. Maybe you did well your 2L and 3L---not because you took a lot of personal time off---but due to knowing what you were doing after your first year. You had already overcome your learning curve.

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Chardee_MacDennis
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Re: Wise sayings of a 3L on balance and law school grades

Postby Chardee_MacDennis » Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:26 pm

solotee wrote:But by taking time off, my happiness level shot up tenfold. Taking time off forced me to focus only on what was necessary to get good grades


Do you think that your happiness increased because you were in the top 10% and secured an SA, and therefore felt less stress to perform, or do you believe that, had you taken more time for yourself during 1L, the results would have been the same?

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solotee
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Re: Wise sayings of a 3L on balance and law school grades

Postby solotee » Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:28 pm

@bizzybone

My last sentence qualifies my point by saying this method works "as soon as you learn how to take a law school exam." Meaning, after you get over your learning curve, you can relax and do well.

I'm not advocating for anyone to take this approach before learning how to take a law school exam.

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suralin
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Re: Wise sayings of a 3L on balance and law school grades

Postby suralin » Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:30 pm

Chardee_MacDennis wrote:
solotee wrote:But by taking time off, my happiness level shot up tenfold. Taking time off forced me to focus only on what was necessary to get good grades


Do you think that your happiness increased because you were in the top 10% and secured an SA, and therefore felt less stress to perform, or do you believe that, had you taken more time for yourself during 1L, the results would have been the same?


I was wondering this as well. OP, do you mind going back in time and doing everything the same except not securing an SA?

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solotee
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Re: Wise sayings of a 3L on balance and law school grades

Postby solotee » Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:35 pm

Chardee_MacDennis wrote:
solotee wrote:But by taking time off, my happiness level shot up tenfold. Taking time off forced me to focus only on what was necessary to get good grades


Do you think that your happiness increased because you were in the top 10% and secured an SA, and therefore felt less stress to perform, or do you believe that, had you taken more time for yourself during 1L, the results would have been the same?


Absolutely not. Even having a 1L SA position didn't increase my level of happiness. I actually remember being depressed the day I found out I was in the top 10%. The pressure to perform never ceases. I was depressed because of the lack of balance in my life.

I can say that once I learned how to take an exam, taking time off helped my performance. This is evident beginning my 2L fall semester. I cannot say for sure that the results would have been the same during 1L year had I taken more time off. If I took more time off during 1L spring semester, I believe I would have performed way better than I did. At a certain point, I felt like the extra hours I put in brought back diminishing returns.
Last edited by solotee on Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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solotee
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Re: Wise sayings of a 3L on balance and law school grades

Postby solotee » Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:39 pm

Suralin wrote:
Chardee_MacDennis wrote:
solotee wrote:But by taking time off, my happiness level shot up tenfold. Taking time off forced me to focus only on what was necessary to get good grades


Do you think that your happiness increased because you were in the top 10% and secured an SA, and therefore felt less stress to perform, or do you believe that, had you taken more time for yourself during 1L, the results would have been the same?


I was wondering this as well. OP, do you mind going back in time and doing everything the same except not securing an SA?


Yes I would have taken the same approach regardless. I came to law school with the mindset I would be content even in the worst case scenario coming out of law school (i.e. contract attorney/hanging your own shingle). Happiness does not correlate with securing a SA position.




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