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It’s been 1L of a year

1L of a bumpy road...

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Good news, QL. With this headline I have officially exhausted all forms of the wordplay riffing on how 1L rhymes with hell, so please stop avoiding me in the hall and ghosting me on social media!

I keep looking at the calendar: is it April already? Yes. What happened to this year? It went quickly. Where is all my money? It also went quickly.

I catch a glimpse of my face as I’m walking to school. Is that really a wrinkle in my forehead? Yes. Will it go away? No. It will not.

Law school and the legal profession is tough and there’s no way around it. 1L has long class hours, a lot of reading, and a steep learning curve. For most, it’s a big change. For some, it becomes too much. We law students need to take care of ourselves and each other.

There were some long days and at times I did feel like I was drowning. Late January and early February are just about the worst time of the year. It was grey and miserably cold.

Helen Connop, the law faculty’s kind and wise manager of education and equity services, told me that in law school, “the days are long, but the weeks are short.” This year, I thought often of Helen’s words. I took them as encouragement to seek the good in as many things as possible.

Take those grey January days and long winter nights, for example. I had a factum to write. I had law journal assignments to do. There were the usual readings, classes, and household chores. But I also had Cabaret practices twice a week. The last time I’d performed in any kind of dance was a mandatory horror in grade 5 gym class. Then, I’d been so scared that I froze on stage and covered my face. All these years later, I took the choreographers at their word when they said ‘no experience required’.

This March I performed in the 1L and Bollywood dances. If you’re ever feeling down, bhangra music is almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face and get you dancing. It sure did for me. I can’t wait to do it again next year. In the meantime, the video’s on the Internet. I’m the fluorescent-toned dork in the back!

Lots of good things have happened this year. I am grateful for the unfailing companionship of friends new and old, each of whom has made the tough days easier and the good days even better. I have loved getting to know so many of the interesting people who make up the QL community and bring their diverse experiences, talents, interests, and career goals to the law school.

They’ve given me notes when I’ve missed class. They’ve helped me steady my nerves before a presentation. Most of all, they’ve made me laugh. I have learned so much from them.

I’m glad I tried new things – usually by saying, “Yes. Why not?” Why not volunteer to be a juror in a mock trial? Why not dance for charity? Why not answer that professor’s question? Why not go to that talk?

I have three pieces of advice. It is not legal advice. As the law society representatives told us on the first day – not that I needed reminding – “You are not lawyers. You are not even students-at-law. You are not articling. You are law students. Barely.” (Okay, they didn’t say ‘barely’.)

First, think about taking a ‘why not’ attitude at least some of the time. I don’t mean for everyone to say yes to everything, because that’s an unsustainable recipe for burnout. Please don’t burn out. Each of us is different. We all have our own likes, dislikes, and we vary in our capacities to take on more. But I would encourage you to say, “Yes. Why not?” at least once this summer and next year, whether you are new, returning, or graduating.

Second, keep buying coffee. Law school is not the time to experiment with a caffeine-free life, unless you want to lose your energy along with your mind.

Third, keep buying me coffee. I still have two years to go.

Alexander McPherson is a 1L Staff Writer.

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