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Feeling Lost and Alone in Law School

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Hi everyone,

I don't mean to come off like i'm complaining or annoying. I just am really struggling and need advice.

So far its been three weeks of law school and I've been going home every day feeling so depressed. I sleep until 8pm when I get home then wake up and do the readings and then go to sleep after 1am. I don't feel like the material is clicking with me and the classes move so fast.

I also am truly struggling to make friends. Everyone in my cohort is very cliquey and they aren't friendly. No one is willing to let me sit with them or talk to me during group discussions --they just turn to their friends and discuss the material. I started going into class with 5 minutes before class starts every day and sitting in the back of the room. It's a very exclusionary environment and I really feel I've become some type of outcast because I'm so socially awkward.

I moved to a new city for law school and left all my friends and partner in my hometown so that makes me feel even more alone. 

I don't know if this is normal and if anyone else has experienced this. Does anyone have any advice on how to cope with this? I really don't know how I'm suppose to survive the year like this. 

Edited by sey
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5 minutes ago, sey said:

Hi everyone,

I don't mean to come off like i'm complaining or annoying. I just am really struggling and need advice.

So far its been three weeks of law school and I've been going home every day feeling so depressed. I sleep until 8pm when I get home then wake up and do the readings and then go to sleep after 1am. I don't feel like the material is clicking with me and the classes move so fast.

I also am truly struggling to make friends. Everyone in my cohort is very cliquey and they aren't friendly. No one is willing to let me sit with them or talk to me during group discussions --they just turn to their friends and discuss the material. I started going into class with 5 minutes before class starts every day and sitting in the back of the room.

I moved to a new city for law school and left all my friends and partner in my hometown (Calgary) so that makes me feel even more alone. 

I don't know if this is normal and if anyone else has experienced this. Does anyone have any advice on how to cope with this? I really don't know how I'm suppose to survive the year like this. 

What school do you go to?

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4 minutes ago, RollMaster said:

What school do you go to?

University of Alberta 

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7 minutes ago, sey said:

University of Alberta 

Ah ok. 

The material will start to click eventually. Law school is a big adjustment and it takes some time. I understand how you might feel overwhelmed, but just keep grinding away. Try out different techniques - if you’ve been reading after class, read before, or vice versa. That might help. Also, don’t be afraid to either ask questions in class or shoot your prof an email. They are there to help you if you don’t understand what’s going on. 

As for the people situation, I’m not sure what to say other than your cohort sounds very immature and it sucks that you’re stuck with them. Keep making efforts though. I’m sure if you said “hey, I don’t have anyone to discuss this with, mind if I join you?” they wouldn’t turn you away. They’d have to be total pricks to do that. Law schools are definitely all super high schoolish and so I understand where you’re coming from. Given that the cliques have already started to form, just keep trying to make a conscious effort to talk to people before or after class. Maybe try and find a study group. ECs are also a good way to meet people. Join some clubs or sign up for a moot. If your school has intramurals, join a team. There’s lots of ways to meet people outside of your cohort too!

Best of luck. 

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2 minutes ago, RollMaster said:

Ah ok. 

The material will start to click eventually. Law school is a big adjustment and it takes some time. I understand how you might feel overwhelmed, but just keep grinding away. Try out different techniques - if you’ve been reading after class, read before, or vice versa. That might help. Also, don’t be afraid to either ask questions in class or shoot your prof an email. They are there to help you if you don’t understand what’s going on. 

As for the people situation, I’m not sure what to say other than your cohort sounds very immature and it sucks that you’re stuck with them. Keep making efforts though. I’m sure if you said “hey, I don’t have anyone to discuss this with, mind if I join you?” they wouldn’t turn you away. They’d have to be total pricks to do that. Law schools are definitely all super high schoolish and so I understand where you’re coming from. Given that the cliques have already started to form, just keep trying to make a conscious effort to talk to people before or after class. Maybe try and find a study group. ECs are also a good way to meet people. Join some clubs or sign up for a moot. If your school has intramurals, join a team. There’s lots of ways to meet people outside of your cohort too!

Best of luck. 

I really do feel like its a high school. 

I'll try my best to join some EC's. Thank you so much for your advice! 

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1 minute ago, sey said:

I really do feel like its a high school. 

I'll try my best to join some EC's. Thank you so much for your advice! 

It is. I luckily found my “group” right away, so I don’t really have any specific advice. Hopefully some other posters here can chime in.

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37 minutes ago, sey said:

Hi everyone,

I don't mean to come off like i'm complaining or annoying. I just am really struggling and need advice.

So far its been three weeks of law school and I've been going home every day feeling so depressed. I sleep until 8pm when I get home then wake up and do the readings and then go to sleep after 1am. I don't feel like the material is clicking with me and the classes move so fast.

I also am truly struggling to make friends. Everyone in my cohort is very cliquey and they aren't friendly. No one is willing to let me sit with them or talk to me during group discussions --they just turn to their friends and discuss the material. I started going into class with 5 minutes before class starts every day and sitting in the back of the room.

I moved to a new city for law school and left all my friends and partner in my hometown (Calgary) so that makes me feel even more alone. 

I don't know if this is normal and if anyone else has experienced this. Does anyone have any advice on how to cope with this? I really don't know how I'm suppose to survive the year like this. 

Hey there,

Never apologize for seeking advice! You are not complaining and you are not coming across as annoying. I am in 3L at a school in ON, and thought I could share some thoughts to assuage your 1L blues.

With respect to the material clicking and the classes moving so fast, I do not think you are alone in experiencing this at all! I have always felt that my classes move super fast. The material seriously never clicks until I begin to start studying for exams (which starts usually a couple weeks before the beginning of the exam period)! This has been a consistent pattern for me. It is only when I start to consolidate my notes, marinate on the concepts and case law, and put together my own map and summary that I finally begin to make sense of it all. My advice to you is to just try to take the best notes that you can to be best prepared for when you start to consolidate and begin studying for exams :). I know some of my peers who read over and consolidate their notes even earlier than near the exam period which helps them make sense of it all. Also, does your school have a map/summary bank? If you do not know, reach out to the student society to ask. Those maps can be a good starting place for getting your head wrapped around the material (and for consolidating your notes in the future by comparing your understanding with that of other students).

I second what was shared above about joining groups and ECs to meet people. Good on you for trying new things like coming to class 5 minutes early. Heck why not come to class 15 minutes early and see who is sitting there and strike up a convo. I know my school can be group-y too, but there are always those few students who sit by themselves or with one other person that are an easy conversation to have. Maybe look past the "groups" to see who else in the lecture hall is sitting by themselves, or with one other person. I am sure if you keep at it you will meet some great people. Also clinics are a great way to get close to people as you grind away working on real life issues!

 

Edited by Ghalm
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5 minutes ago, RollMaster said:

It is. I luckily found my “group” right away, so I don’t really have any specific advice. Hopefully some other posters here can chime in.

Lucky you! thanks for the advice. 

8 minutes ago, Ghalm said:

Hey there,

Never apologize for seeking advice! You are not complaining and you are not coming across as annoying. I am in 3L at a school in ON, and thought I could share some thoughts to assuage your 1L blues.

With respect to the material clicking and the classes moving so fast, I do not think you are alone in experiencing this at all! I have always felt that my classes move super fast. The material seriously never clicks until I begin to start studying for exams (which starts usually a couple weeks before the beginning of the exam period)! This has been a consistent pattern for me. It is only when I start to consolidate my notes, marinate on the concepts and case law, and put together my own map and summary that I finally begin to make sense of it all. My advice to you is to just try to take the best notes that you can to be best prepared for when you start to consolidate and begin studying for exams :). I know some of my peers who read over and consolidate their notes even earlier than near the exam period which helps them make sense of it all. Also, does your school have a map/summary bank? If you do not know, reach out to the student society to ask. Those maps can be a good starting place for getting your head wrapped around the material (and for consolidating your notes in the future by comparing your understanding with that of other students).

I second what was shared above about joining groups and ECs to meet people. Good on you for trying new things like coming to class 5 minutes early. Heck why not come to class 15 minutes early and see who is sitting there and strike up a convo. I know my school can be group-y too, but there are always those few students who sit by themselves or with one other person that are an easy conversation to have. Maybe look past the "groups" to see who else in the lecture hall is sitting by themselves, or with one other person. 

 

Thank you for you advice! I feel a lot better knowing other people all struggle to get the material to stick! I will try to do what I can to talk to people more.

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Most of my friends in 1L were people I met outside my small group by randomly initiating conversations. For example, I met my closest friend in law school by making fun of the jersey he was wearing. 3 weeks is too soon to be forming conclusions about the next 3 years. It will probably get better. Try joining a club or going to the pub nights

Edited by Trew
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Social

Although it's true that some people meet their "group" right away and hang out almost exclusively with said group for the entirety of law school, I can promise that there is a lot of movement that takes place socially throughout 1L as people gradually meet others during ECs or during events outside of class.

I also suspect that you're focusing on a few cliques and not necessarily the majority of students that are more "background" socially when it comes to assessing the social climate. By the end of 1L, I'd say it's typical for most students in your cohort to have a couple friends, plenty of acquaintances, and be cool with just about everybody. Being uber committed to a clique to the exclusion of everybody else isn't the norm from my experience.

It's also important to mention that you're in the first week of classes and almost everybody is a little bit uncomfortable right now and are probably clinging to the first people they met for comfort.

As for group discussions if it's where people are assigned to a group by the professor to discuss a particular topic  these tend to be dominated by the extroverted and louder students. You kind of just have to assert yourself if you want to be heard.

The best way for introverts to meet people is generally extracurricular activities that involve smaller groups that meet regularly. Luckily law school has plenty of groups to get involved in. Many of them are also just getting started up for the year so it's a good time to pick out a few that interest you.

Academics

It's normal for people to not get things right away.

I remember during my first couple of weeks when trying to summarize a 12 page case excerpt from criminal law I basically ended up re-writing the case in my own words because I had no idea what was important and what was not.

The LRW assignments are actually super helpful when it comes to understanding what is going on. I noticed a big increase in my understanding of how the law works after each of the major LRW assignments.

If any of your classmates have a good understanding of what's going on right now they are far from the norm. The overwhelming majority of your classmates are in the same spot as you are right now.

 

Edited by Toad
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I don't have much to say in way of advice, but just wanted to share that I feel the same way.

I don't go to the same school as you, but I am just like you in mine. I have hard time making friends, and can't participate in group discussions that well. I don't even think that my school is as 'cliquey' as you describe yours, but I somehow feel left out too. Though not too far, I had to move for my school too, and maybe that is a more significant factor than I would like to admit. But it's still early; hopefully things will get better as we learn to adjust.

As for clicking with the material, I have trouble with that too. I'm trying to find out what works for me. 

Anyway, it's still early and I hope your experience gets better as you settle more into law school. Just wanted to relate to your post. Good luck!

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Guys. If you’re in first year, you are a few weeks into a process that takes years. Becoming a (competent) lawyer takes a lot more than law school. You’re running a marathon and wondering if something is wrong when 1km in you can’t see the finish line. Chill.

Go drink with people. Or find an extracurricular with people with like minds.

In the meantime, develop some hobbies that makes you happy. 

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Im a 1L at U of A as well and haven't really noticed what you describe. Nonetheless, as others have said I think its far too early to draw such strong conclusions. Im sure you will make friends soon enough :)

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9 hours ago, magicmtn said:

I don't have much to say in way of advice, but just wanted to share that I feel the same way.

I don't go to the same school as you, but I am just like you in mine. I have hard time making friends, and can't participate in group discussions that well. I don't even think that my school is as 'cliquey' as you describe yours, but I somehow feel left out too. Though not too far, I had to move for my school too, and maybe that is a more significant factor than I would like to admit. But it's still early; hopefully things will get better as we learn to adjust.

As for clicking with the material, I have trouble with that too. I'm trying to find out what works for me. 

Anyway, it's still early and I hope your experience gets better as you settle more into law school. Just wanted to relate to your post. Good luck!

It makes me feel better know other people are also in my same boat—thank you for writing in the thread.

 

Thank you so much to everyone that responded—I really appreciate feeling like there is a community I can lean on. I’ll try to implement these strategies into my routine and hopefully things will improve by the end of the fall :) 

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12 hours ago, sey said:

I also am truly struggling to make friends. Everyone in my cohort is very cliquey and they aren't friendly. No one is willing to let me sit with them or talk to me during group discussions --they just turn to their friends and discuss the material. I started going into class with 5 minutes before class starts every day and sitting in the back of the room. It's a very exclusionary environment and I really feel I've become some type of outcast because I'm so socially awkward.

I am not socially awkward but I did not make a lot of friends in 1L. I found people to be really insecure and loud and desperate to try and act cool, maybe because they were never considered cool before - I don't know. I understand the cliquey vibe, it is not normal. Just know that they are super insecure and trying their "best" to fit in.

I had a lot of friends in law school by 3L, people started calming down later on. Just give it time. 

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I also made a bunch of friends in upper years, and that helped me get out of the 1L bubble. Be wary of the recruitment buzz and anxiety going on right now though.

I'm all for the suggestion of trying out new clubs, especially non law stuff. Intramurals can help you both get some exercise in and make non law friends, so I'd definitely recommend that.

Hang in there! It gets better.

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I wholeheartedly agree with getting outside of the law bubble. Your friends most definitely do not have to be restricted to law school. 

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I'm at UofA too, and I was going to jump in here saying SIT BY ME, I'LL BEFRIEND YOU but I realized I might not be in your cohort. If you ever want to study together though, lmk 👀 I don't have anyone in law school to hang out with either so at the moment I also usually just go straight home after classes.

I'm really awkward too, and I spent the first few days of Foundations so anxious I couldn't sleep because I was worrying about impressing people and carrying a conversation and looking a certain way - and as I saw a couple other people say, just about everyone else is worried about that too. Maybe not to our extent, but.

I've found so far that to talk to people, you have to be pretty aggressive, which I know is hard to do. I've seen other folks jump in and ask about the readings or how they're finding the prof, and that usually gets the ball rolling, if that helps! I actually haven't had a single conversation that wasn't about school itself, now that I think about it... 

As someone else said, we've got three whole years ahead of us, and it looks like everyone else has friends already, but truly, that's not the case! In my cohort alone I can think of five people off the top of my head who also tend to sit alone and don't have a group. Find them (me)! Befriend them (me)!

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12 hours ago, AJD19 said:

Im a 1L at U of A as well and haven't really noticed what you describe. Nonetheless, as others have said I think its far too early to draw such strong conclusions. Im sure you will make friends soon enough :)

probably because you're an extroverted/not awkward person! Just confirms that everyone else is fitting in! But thanks for your input. 

1 hour ago, RGoodfellow said:

I'm at UofA too, and I was going to jump in here saying SIT BY ME, I'LL BEFRIEND YOU but I realized I might not be in your cohort. If you ever want to study together though, lmk 👀 I don't have anyone in law school to hang out with either so at the moment I also usually just go straight home after classes.

I'm really awkward too, and I spent the first few days of Foundations so anxious I couldn't sleep because I was worrying about impressing people and carrying a conversation and looking a certain way - and as I saw a couple other people say, just about everyone else is worried about that too. Maybe not to our extent, but.

I've found so far that to talk to people, you have to be pretty aggressive, which I know is hard to do. I've seen other folks jump in and ask about the readings or how they're finding the prof, and that usually gets the ball rolling, if that helps! I actually haven't had a single conversation that wasn't about school itself, now that I think about it... 

As someone else said, we've got three whole years ahead of us, and it looks like everyone else has friends already, but truly, that's not the case! In my cohort alone I can think of five people off the top of my head who also tend to sit alone and don't have a group. Find them (me)! Befriend them (me)!

I really appreciate that. I'll try to think about how there's probably one other person that feels this way. Thank you! I wish you were in my cohort, as I feel the whole process is very draining without friends. 

Thanks to everyone that has a written in the thread--I really appreciate everyone's advice. Today I felt a lot better knowing other people are experiencing this and that it is a general tone of law school to be like a high school. At least it isn't just me. Feeling more positive already! :)

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17 hours ago, sey said:

Hi everyone,

I don't mean to come off like i'm complaining or annoying. I just am really struggling and need advice.

So far its been three weeks of law school and I've been going home every day feeling so depressed. I sleep until 8pm when I get home then wake up and do the readings and then go to sleep after 1am. I don't feel like the material is clicking with me and the classes move so fast.

I also am truly struggling to make friends. Everyone in my cohort is very cliquey and they aren't friendly. No one is willing to let me sit with them or talk to me during group discussions --they just turn to their friends and discuss the material. I started going into class with 5 minutes before class starts every day and sitting in the back of the room. It's a very exclusionary environment and I really feel I've become some type of outcast because I'm so socially awkward.

I moved to a new city for law school and left all my friends and partner in my hometown so that makes me feel even more alone. 

I don't know if this is normal and if anyone else has experienced this. Does anyone have any advice on how to cope with this? I really don't know how I'm suppose to survive the year like this. 

Ah, the first month of 1L. Memories...

But really, I'm sorry you feel this way. You're not being annoying by admitting you feel down. I went to U of A as well and pretty much found it the same way, especially if you're not into the party scene (and I personally recommend that you stay away from the party scene for your own sake).

I empathize with you since I struggled with similar feelings. In all honesty, I never "enjoyed" law school, but it does get easier. Personally, I found that volunteering with Student Legal services was great experience and you meet people outside of law school. Many of these people might be difficult or just strange, but personally I found it sort of shook me out of my funk. It's a learning experience if nothing else, so I recommend it.

People in law school, and especially in 1L, can be... weird. Looking back, it feels especially silly since so many have their noses up in the air as if they're experts, and then sometimes the real experts (like the head of my own firm, for example) are modest and self-effacing. Try to see past it and keep in mind that (most of) your fellow students will calm down over time and probably will be easier to hang out with.

If you're really struggling with the law school crowd, consider just signing up for something completely unrelated to law school. Sports, church, whatever. Just something off campus.

As for the academic studies, I agree with Hoju. It takes time. You're reading antique case law that uses obscure language and refers to cases and legislation that you have never read. Anybody would be confused by that! Take it slow and steady, but don't give up. Keep doing the readings every day, even when people say "just use a CAN!" Don't just use a CAN. You're shortchanging yourself on your own education, and the time you invest pays off. By 3L, you'll glance at a CAN and be good to go, but you're not there yet.

Like I said, it gets better, and you will catch on with patience and perseverance. Only giving up will cause you to fail.

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