Kevin, Having graduated law school in 1970, your book refocused me on that very mixed experience. Currently teaching advanced mediation, I try as hard as possible to think about the students—not my presentation. A few quick generalizations for law students stimulated by your book:
1) Don’t think you’re studying cases—you are studying people in tough situations. Always find the human connections. Listen for the underlying story/drama.
2) What is the impact or importance of what you are studying? Find it? Without a sense of importance focus is hard to find.
3) Learn that law is about working with people. The practice will be minimally about law and in large part about relationships, perspectives and emotions. Don’t let rational thinking be the only definition of thinking like a lawyer. You will be a counselor for most of your clients. Their feeling and your understanding them will make them your customers and often friends for life.
4) Get out of the class and get involved. Learn why this stuff matters and how it can help. We are a service profession, start serving. Clinical programs allow students to feel and be useful—as Kevin writes say yes and participate. My students are challenged and find satisfaction from their participation in mediations. Nothing can be better then realizing that you can use your new skills, combined with your decency and common sense to help people during tough situations.
5) For yourself within your school take advantage of moot court and other challenges—you will learn to stand on your feet—find greater depth in your analysis and gain confidence. Also law school can feel cold until you are involved with your classmates—you need friends. Help others and they will help you. This was true when I was in school and it is true today in practice. I am always open to assisting other lawyers and I have found them always open to assisting me.
Kevin for me it was working for the appellate defenders while in law school and participating in Moot Court which allowed me to tolerate and then thrive. I went on to have a trial and now a mediation career, both have been extraordinarily rewarding.
Your concepts of “showing up” and “stewardship” are right on the money.
University of Detroit Mercy School of Law