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Oilersfan94

When should you consider leaving law school?

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I’m currently in 1L and just second guessing my choices. I love my courses and find them interesting, and academically I’m doing fine so far. I just cannot seem to enjoy the company of the vast majority of my fellow 1L students, the upper years I have met all seem fine, but I honestly cannot imagine a scenario working with these people that does not result in significant damage to my mental health, which is already not good.

I’m not looking for pity and I’m not looking for “you need to learn to work with others” because I’ve done so successfully in a variety of environments. I don’t want to go further into specifics for anonymity reasons, but I’m really struggling mentally with the way people are. I’m just wondering, is it worth plugging through because I enjoy the material and think I would enjoy the practice of law, or am I better off leaving law school now and doing something else?

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I know you said you don't want to go into specifics, but you haven't really described what the issue is at all, so there's not much anyone can say in response that would be all that helpful (especially considering you said you the upper years seem fine).

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If you love your courses, you’re doing well, and you want to be a lawyer, why on earth would you leave law school entirely just because you don’t want to spend a maximum of two more years with a certain group of people? 🧐 I’m failing to understand something here. 

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Posted (edited)

Yeah. I don't want to pile on and you haven't approached this issue in an unreasonable way - just in a way that makes me think we don't have enough information. It may not have occurred to you before, but you don't actually have to spend much time at all around your fellow law students. Go to class, learn what you're there to learn, and leave. People do that all the time for a variety of reasons. A fair percentage of the class are genuine adults who have real lives and other responsibilities. Some have kids. They aren't hanging around with their classmates in any context at all other than in actual class, and you don't need to either.

Put it this way. I'm not telling you "you need to learn to work with others," which you don't want to hear. I'm telling you "you need to learn that you don't have to work with these other people hardly at all." Some kind of rare group assignment, maybe. But that's it.

As you seem to have gathered already, the actual experience of practicing law is very different from the experience of being in law school. Some people love school and hate actual practice, btw. Not adding that for any reason save to illustrate how different they are. If you really dislike being around the other people there, just don't be. Problem (mostly) solved.

Edited by Diplock
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Posted (edited)

Most legal work, for most types of lawyers, is done alone

You probably won't see most of these people again, never mind having to work with them. You don't need to "enjoy their company". 

I straight up loathed  a number of people I went to law school with. Now, as a practicing lawyer, I love my career and I really like my colleagues. 

Edited by QuincyWagstaff
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10 hours ago, Diplock said:

It may not have occurred to you before, but you don't actually have to spend much time at all around your fellow law students. Go to class, learn what you're there to learn, and leave. People do that all the time for a variety of reasons.

I just wanted to echo this, OP, as a fellow 1L - with some very rare exceptions I leave school as soon as classes are over for the day because I just can't stand the environment. The anxious echo chamber of 1L, especially, really gets to me and I need to get away.

Do what you need to to take care of yourself.

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1L and the first semester of 2L is tough for a lot of people where marks and OCIs take centre stage. Things will get better after that, or at least you'll develop more of a "I don't give a fuck attitude" - as I did. 

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Also a 1L at UofA, but don’t feel the same way at all - perhaps I’m in another cohort (or part of the problem).

I’m curious, what in particular is frustrating you? Is it the neuroticism of some students obsessing over their grades? I’ve just deflected any conversations around grades and people have stoped talking to me about them. Maybe it’s the few inevitable high-school-esque cliques? I’ve just rolled my eyes at these chumps, who I secretly hope will have trouble getting a job because recruiters must see their weird antisocial-ness (don’t judge me - it gets me through the day). Or maybe the Edmonton winter and our no-windows bunker of a building are starting to take their toll and exacerbating otherwise tolerable conditions? If so, take a walk to Transcend at lunch/after class - best coffee in town and Edmonton winter sunshine is glorious.

For what it’s worth, I hope you decide to stay. I would hate to let a few people ruin what you’ve worked hard for, are evidently good at, and what you can become. Maybe practicing lawyers can give you hope that the specific issues troubling you get better in the real world.

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Though I don't know the exact issues you're having with other students, you may come to meet people in your upper years who you actually like (or at least can put up with). During 1L, I didn't really get along with many people in my section - they seemed cliquey, constantly talked about grades, and generally seemed like their goals in law school were very different than my own. After 1L, I thought that this what all law students were like and I wouldn't be making any real connections during my time at law school. However, in my upper years, where I was able to pick the types of courses I was interested in and got more involved with extra-curriculars closely aligned with my interests, I found that I was exposed to people who I had more in common with and who I actually got along with.

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15 hours ago, Oilersfan94 said:

I’m currently in 1L and just second guessing my choices. I love my courses and find them interesting, and academically I’m doing fine so far. I just cannot seem to enjoy the company of the vast majority of my fellow 1L students, the upper years I have met all seem fine, but I honestly cannot imagine a scenario working with these people that does not result in significant damage to my mental health, which is already not good.

I’m not looking for pity and I’m not looking for “you need to learn to work with others” because I’ve done so successfully in a variety of environments. I don’t want to go further into specifics for anonymity reasons, but I’m really struggling mentally with the way people are. I’m just wondering, is it worth plugging through because I enjoy the material and think I would enjoy the practice of law, or am I better off leaving law school now and doing something else?

OP I was in the same position as you a few years back. I also found it very hard to make friends in 1L. I had no interest in most social events at law school, and it took a huge effort to motivate myself to interact with other people at school at all.


I suggest you at least get some exposure to the legal workplace first before you decide to leave law school - you might very well find that your problem is only with your fellow students, in which case there's really no reason to drop out (if you find that you hate every lawyer you come across, things might be different, but that doesn't sound like the case). I got a decent job in the summer, articled, and am now working as a lawyer. I can tell you that I enjoyed my time in the workplace much more than when I was in law school, and its certainly a better job than I would otherwise have if I had left law school. I don't really work with other lawyers anymore, but even when I did, I didn't have a problem with my colleagues (and I even made some friends!), and the vast majority of my time was spent plugging away at some document by myself anyway. So while I didn't have a good time in law school, it got me where I needed to go and I don't regret sticking it out at all.

 

As for law school itself, you really don't need to interact with your fellow classmates much, if at all, if you don't want to. I basically only went to school to listen to lectures. I had a 2 or 3 people in law school who I would share notes/discuss ideas with occasionally, but otherwise I kept to myself, and only socialized with my non-law school friends.

 

That being said, I wouldn't recommend dealing with the situation the way I did. It can make for a very lonely 3 years, and it won't do anything for your mental health. There's also the professional benefits of having a strong network of friends that you might miss out on. If you haven't done so already, I think you should find some extracurricular activities (could be clinic, a sports team, boardgame club, whatever) at the law school that you're interested in, and see if you can meet some like minded people that way. It would also give you an opportunity to meet people in other years. Even if you don't meet any friends this year, maybe you might get along next year's cohort better. If you're planning to work at a big corporate law firm in the summer, that might also be a good opportunity to meet new people you might have more in common with.

 

Not sure if this is helpful, but thought I'd share my experience anyway in case anyone reading is in the same boat. @OP feel free to PM if you want to talk about it.

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I didn't make that many friends in first year. There were a lot of people I didn't like. Law does tend to attract a group of people that are know-it-alls and strivers, neither of which I like that much. But it gets a lot better after first year, when you meet a bigger range of people, take more interesting classes, fall into social groups that are not as contrived as a first year class section.

And once you start your career, law is like any job - you'll work with people you like (or not), people you can trust (or not), and people you loathe (or not). You will probably encounter all of those groups in similar numbers as you would in any career. With the exception of litigation jobs, where you will encounter a lot more assholes than people in most other jobs, but they're not your colleagues, they're on the other side of files. Or they're your clients.

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On 1/8/2020 at 6:52 PM, QuincyWagstaff said:

Most legal work, for most types of lawyers, is done alone

You probably won't see most of these people again, never mind having to work with them. You don't need to "enjoy their company".

This is very accurate.

 

My 1L experience was very different from anything I'd ever done. I managed to get through undergrad without saying more than 100 words to anyone (exaggeration but you get the idea), and then I land in 1L with a bunch of people at very different stages of their lives and who had very different upbringings from myself, and I'm expected to mingle. I thought: "how tf am I going to manage with these people?" But I decided to play the game in a way and just get to know people and, looking back, I can't think of a single person in my 1L that I didn't like. You're only half way through 1L; I think you need to give them a bit more of a chance and a bit more time.

Couple of things that you've probably heard many times but, given the lack of specifics, I feel need to be said:

1. You cannot control other peoples' behavior; you can only control your own and specifically how you react and interpret those behaviors. I'm not sure what it is that you find upsetting, but how other people act, react and treat each other has absolutely nothing to do with you. Ignore them if you must.

2. Do you really want to give up on your own personal career goals just because you don't like the people that you are surrounded by? I mean, if you really want to segregate yourself, you barely have to talk to anyone to get through your classes (short of those awful group projects that some are forced to do). You simply have to show up to class, listen attentively, and leave. There's not really much room for interaction there.

3. As QuincyWagstaff said, you really are not going to have to interact with your cohort during your career. So if you really can't stand people, realize that in a few short years, you likely never will have to talk to them again.

But I suppose that if you're so caught up in how other people behave that it's distracting to you, should probably go ahead and quit now because you have 2.5 more years of it.

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I don't personally believe that people in the field of law are all that exceptional or different from those in any other profession.  To the extent that you're having toxic experiences in law school, I'd suggest those experiences are being caused by the environment of law school rather than the individual qualities of the students.

There are plenty of good reasons to not want to finish law school.  This isn't one of them.  

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I'm also a 1L student that is having a similar experience. I have met some cool and nice people at school, and I speak to them at school but I rarely hang out with anyone outside of school, and try to leave the law school after classes..... I find it difficult hanging around these other students for more than a couple hours sometimes. Everyone is similar in terms of the neuroticism, often Type A personalities, and everyone of course are always anxious about school stuff, that it gets to you. I'm not really enjoying being in school, but I do really like my classes, I like my profs, I'm doing well in school, and I do look forward to practice. 

I have had conversations one-on-one with some people and we all mention feeling the same way, so just know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. This is so common. We also felt that we should just drop out because we hated the environment. I sometimes feel the worst or hardest part of law school isn't even the actual content/school stuff, but dealing with how you move within the law school envrionment. It's very anxiety-inducing LOL. But know that this is tempoary, you are here to get a law degree and be a lawyer. You won't see most people ever again. Be cordial and friendly at school, but focus on your studies and going to events like panels and stuff. 

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