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1L, One Month In

1L Staff Writer Alex McPherson Dishes on His First Impressions of Law School

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Am I ever going to understand torts? Is the air conditioning ever going to work? What is consideration? Is the line at the coffee shop always so long? What is the rule of law? Why is the floor so sticky here?

The seemingly mundane questions mix in with the substantive legal ones. But I promise you that if I’m ever going to understand anything in the law, then those other concerns need attention: Macdonald can’t be an oven, I need espresso multiple times a day, and I need to block the slip-and-slide floors in a well-known Kingston nightclub out of my memory. (It rhymes with ‘Pages’). September in 1L is a month brimming with possibility but many unknowns too. Law school, as L.P. Hartley described the past, “is a foreign country. They do things differently here.” This transition is a profound culture shock in so many ways, from reading and briefing cases to figuring out what an outline is and why Lord Denning is so lyrical about cricket.

How, I wondered, would I fare in the first, crucial weeks? As the first day approached, excitement turned to anxiety. I worried about the scary professor from Legally Blonde asking me to leave class for not knowing anything. A month ago, before orientation, I worried about meeting people and making friends. I almost didn’t go to orientation because I was so anxious. For the first time of many this month, I pushed myself to go outside of my comfort zone. I almost froze at the law building. I almost turned back, but didn’t. Then my orientation group bonded over our mutual television and film interests at trivia.

We won the Golden Corn at Games Day and ate homemade apple pie along a bumpy dirt road. We confused the staff at Phase 2 by buying their entire stock of bullwhips for our Indiana Jones costumes. We built the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark out of a beer box and two broom handles. I ordered a $17 glass of wine on the boat cruise and got made fun of, deservedly so. We built jigsaw puzzles in record time. At karaoke, we sang Avril Lavigne’s ‘Sk8er Boi’ – but the highlight was the Dean’s rendition of ‘Queen’s Law, Queen’s Law’ to the tune (and most of the words) of ‘New York, New York’. We dressed up for the gala and dressed down for our first smoker, ever. We became QL. Even if I’m convinced that some cases are in a made-up language that only resembles English, it seems manageable because I have made great friends in all years – people to laugh with, whine with, have wine with, sip coffee alongside, explore Kingston with, and, yes, people to ask what a section 96 court is. Gradually, the days seemed less worrisome and more fun.

A month ago, QL was a foreign country. Today, it’s home. And to my great relief, the air conditioning came on.


Alex McPherson is a 1L Staff Writer

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