My Time at W&L Law: Claire Hagan

haganWith less than a month left in the 2012-2013 academic year, we asked several of our third-year students to reflect upon their time at W&L Law. Today, Claire Hagan takes on the topic.

Law school seems to get a pretty bad rap these days. I don’t know whether most of those criticisms are deserved. I can only speak to the actual experience of law school, the three years spent reading countless cases, writing briefs and notes, cite checking, and trying to do something called “think like a lawyer.” And from this end—the student’s experience—I want to offer a short defense of law school.

Put bluntly, I’ve loved law school. I didn’t expect to enjoy it this much. I arrived at law school pretty naïve—I didn’t know about things like The Curve or about Big Law or about any of that stuff. But even though I started out ignorant in some respects, I came to law school equipped with some fantastic advice. Once I’d decided to actually commit to law school, my father (also a lawyer) advised me to fully commit. Meaning, embrace the three-year experience. Don’t treat law school like it’s just a stepping stone to a good job. Don’t treat law school like it itself is a job. Instead, really dive in, get your hands dirty, and enjoy the experience.

I took his advice to heart, and have spent these three years trying to get as much out of law school as I can. I’m not just in this to get good grades or get a good job. Rather, I’ve tried to focus on the actual experience, and tried to exploit these three years as much as I can.

From what I’ve learned, you should take all the classes that you can, and take classes that you’d never have expected to take. Spend time getting to know your professors outside the classroom. Follow the Supreme Court and read Jeffrey Toobin. Go to class and actually pay attention. Talk to your friends about the law. Spend your second year researching and writing a note about a topic that you love. Read some random law review articles. Try your hand at the Davis competition, even if you hate appellate advocacy. Go watch your classmates shine in the moot court competitions. These are just a few stars in the constellation of ways to go about enjoying law school for its own sake.

I think that if you focus on enjoying law school, you’ll probably end up doing pretty well. And regardless, your time in law school won’t be a waste.

The law school experience is what you make of it—good or bad. Either way, you (only) get three years.

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