Three Things I Learned in Law School That Weren’t in the Curriculum

Three things I learned in law school that weren't in the curriculum.As we start off a new year, please welcome back guest writer Christen Morgan, attorney and Real Estate Specialist at a wireless infrastructure company, to discuss what three major lessons she learned from law school (and no they were not on any class syllabus).

It has almost been two years since I’ve graduated law school, and I kid you not, my experience is beginning to become a blur. An experience that was essentially the cornerstone of my life for three years, is beginning to become nuggets of memories that I struggle to piece together. I’m forgetting the names of former classmates and don’t even get me started on the course curriculum, that vanished right after taking the bar exam.

Now don’t get me wrong, my faded memory is by no means an indication that law school was a waste of time. While I can’t recite the Rule Against Perpetuities Theory, law school completely restructured the way I think. Law school taught me more than the nuts and bolts that were embedded within the 90 credits of coursework I completed. It taught me more about myself and the personal limits I had to institute for survival. It taught me that law professors aren’t necessarily the dry, authoritative characters that are portrayed in tv/film, but that they are in fact normal human beings with incredible minds and great senses of humor. Law school taught me that it is in fact possible to balance a social life in what seems to be a period of optimal stress and it gave me the inexplicable feeling of what it means to be an advocate for someone regardless of whether it was in a mock simulated setting or just a one-line contribution to a successful motion during a summer internship. It’s probably evident that I could go on and on with this list, but I’ll spare you and just cover my three favorite takeaways that weren’t included in the curriculum.

1. Everything isn’t a Priority

One thing that I quickly learned in law school is that everything isn’t a priority. Before starting law school, I placed all of life’s stresses on the same priority level. This meant that everything from a missed hair appointment to failing an exam would cause me immense stress. As you can imagine, I was a nervous ball of anxiety that was just about ready to explode at the drop of a hat. However, believe it or not, law school broke me of this bad habit. Upon realizing the workload I had ahead of me, I quickly determined that a missed hair appointment or losing my favorite pair of jeans were trivial issues. I began to prioritize my stresses in an effort to cope on a daily basis.

Prioritizing my stresses meant that I had to rank the stressful situations in my life in order of what I could live with and what had to be dealt with immediately. Because, trust me, in law school there’s a high possibility that your car will break down and your laptop will crash on the morning of a final exam. Prioritizing your stresses means recognizing that sitting for your final will take top priority and everything else WILL fall into place. This perspective is perhaps my favorite takeaway from law school as I consistently apply it on a daily basis as an attorney.

2. Too much Caffeine Can Be A Very Bad Thing

I also learned that too much caffeine can be a very bad thing and utilizing healthier alternatives for maintaining energy is important. As someone who never drank coffee until getting to law school, I quickly became addicted to this delicious drink for my primary energy source. Sleep and vitamins took a back seat while a grande blonde roast from Starbucks became my best friend. While I surprisingly survived 1L and 2L year without this becoming too much of an issue, by 3L year my body had hit its limit and the levels of caffeine I was drinking began to impact my health. Therefore, under doctor’s orders, I had to drastically cut back. This meant seeking out healthier alternatives to accrue energy. It was actually refreshing to learn that eight hours of sleep, a healthier diet and vitamin B supplements could in fact provide me with the energy that I needed. While this transition was a work in progress, I noticed that I no longer suffered the caffeine crashes that I would endure after having four cups a day. I also no longer suffered the health issues that caffeine caused.

Now I’m not saying you need to give up coffee cold turkey (I would never say that). I’m just saying take everything in manageable doses. Trust me, you’ll thank me a few years from now when the office Keurig breaks down, and you have to pull an all-nighter.

3. Cultivating Strong Friendships is Essential

Finally, law school taught me that cultivating strong friendships is essential for survival. Getting through law school can be tough stuff. It can be an extremely alienating and mentally draining experience. As an introverted-extrovert, it can be very difficult for me to make friends, but a few weeks into my first semester I quickly recognized that I could not endure the experience ahead on my own. Therefore, I began embracing the budding friendships forming around me. I developed relationships with friends who I laughed with, cried with and pulled 17-hour study sessions with for weeks on end in the law library. These are the friends that I co-authored briefs with for moot court competitions, argued hypotheticals back and forth with during exam prep and shared a few beers with at the law school keg. These are the friends that I walked across the stage with at graduation and celebrated with the day our bar exam results dropped. These are still the friends I rely on today whenever I have a stressful day at work and ultimately the support that I needed to maintain my sanity during law school and to this very day.

I hope that sharing these lessons will be beneficial to your experience.


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About Christen Morgan

Christen Morgan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tampa where she received her B.S. in Criminology. She earned her J.D. from Emory Law School where she competed and served as an executive board member for the Emory Law Moot Court Society. Christen also served as a student representative for LexisNexis and also as a mentor for several 1L students offering them advice and a variety of resources to help them through their law school journey.

Christen previously practiced as a Foreclosure Attorney for a Real Estate law firm but has since then transitioned into a Real Estate Specialist role at a wireless infrastructure company.

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