This week we welcome back guest writer Christen Morgan to talk about the importance of friendships in law school.
If someone were to ask me what my absolute favorite memory of law school is, it would undoubtedly be the hours my friends and I spent on the first floor of our library, with our case books, highlighters and supplements splayed across the table, as we talked about everything under the sun besides the work we were actually doing. This ritual quickly became routine, the person who completed class the earliest would scout the ideal table, one with ample seating, close to the entrance but most importantly on the first floor. This was the only floor with limited talking restrictions and as loud as we were, we were tired of getting reported.
Sometimes I only had enough time to hang for an hour or two in between classes. While sometimes four hours, six hours and even eight hours seamlessly rolled by as I tried to internalize complex legal issues while saying my piece on whatever pop culture drama captured our attention that week. This was bliss. Despite the fears I struggled with daily, those moments made it all ok. Those human blessings reminded me of what was most important, my sanity and the love and connections we make in life. Once those factors were settled, everything else would fall into place.
In law school it’s very easy to feel like you’re on an island all by yourself. The complex material and the overall uncertainty frequently leads to stress which may then lead to a desire to distance yourself from everyone. As an introvert, I can definitely understand this desire to retreat into a shell and avoid all human life, but, although studying on your own may be essential to truly grasping the material, being on your own at all times can be very dangerous. Being on your own void of all support could lead to feelings of hopelessness which can send you into a spiral of stress which could lead to failure. Maintaining friendships throughout law school can help to strike the balance between focus and play which is essential to maintain your sanity.
So why are law school friendships so important?
1. These Friends Will Support You
These are the friends that will support you when your stress has caused you to border on the cusp of irrational thinking. Your law school friends are there to talk you off the ledge and remind you that it will all be ok. They are the ideal support system because they are facing the same burdens, and they are conveniently there to break the day up for you. A long day of classes and studying can quickly make a turn for the better if you get to spend even just a few minutes with one friend. Spending the time with people you care about is a natural way to increase your serotonin levels and take your day into a shift for the better.
2. They Completely Understand What You’re Going Through
These friendships are important because, let’s keep it real, your family and friends back home may not truly understand what you’re going through. Unless you have family or friends who’ve also completed law school, it’s likely that they may not entirely grasp the gravity of your experience. Therefore, it is key to build bonds with other students who are actually sharing in your experience. I frequently compare law school to a fraternity, in the sense that it’s very easy to form a bond with others due to facing a shared difficult experience. This effect actually has scientific backing, and I experienced it on my own when I, someone who finds it quite difficult to make friends, found myself bonding with people within the first few weeks, who are still instrumental in my life today. Yes, I still had my family to provide general support, but these friends filled the necessary gaps of support I needed in dealing with specific issues they knew all too well.
3. These Friends Are A Part of Your Network
Finally, these friendships are also important because these people are a part of your network. Each person you connect with in law school will be a part of the network you’re building. You are all working towards the same or similar career goals, therefore these are the people you may look to as you build on your career in the future. I remember one of my law school professor’s advising the class that we be very careful about the reputation that we build while we are in school because our peers could be the deciding factor in whether we obtain a future job. I can’t stress how real this is as I’ve looked to law school peers to get my foot in the door for job opportunities, and they have also looked to me for similar assistance. Having solid friends in your corner makes this a no brainer because, as a member of your network, your friends can be a strong reference.
However, beyond network building, beyond support, beyond shared understanding, these people are your tribe. These people have been with you through a very difficult storm and can certainly be there for the victories, milestones and the many more storms to come.
Have you already made some strong law school friendships? Please drop a note about how these friendships have benefited you. I look forward to hearing your stories!