The entire purpose of this piece is to say what I wish had been told to me when I had joined. So, if you think that this piece goes on to spoon-feed the stuff that needs to be learnt from experience, I apologize. And here it is:
1. Start being sensitive. No, I’m not giving you those over-used lines like ‘that girl you just called fat is starving herself’. All I’m saying is that there is a certain identity attached to every person. There will be people from various regions, religions and castes. Respect those identities and all that comes along. I know someone who abused a batchmate for lacking the ‘merit’ and getting in through caste-based reservation. In his defence, he claimed to be drunk. Now, remember this. Law School is wasted on you if such things come to you even in your worst of dreams, let alone when drunk.
2. Prioritize. Law Schools are full of competitive idiots. Sometimes, you’ll end up joining the horde of desperate souls aiming for something which, you’ll find out much later, is not of any worth. Stop doing that. Think before you decide on doing anything. It could be a moot, a competition or even contesting the elections. Do it only if you think it’s something you really want and not because someone else is. Like a senior of mine said, “even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat!”
3. Don’t be a chicken. Yes, you’re all scared of ragging. So was I. The ones who rag you are the same people who’re going to help you out with your routine academics. If ragging hadn’t happened to me, I probably would have been too afraid to say a word in class. The amount of confidence it builds in you is enormous. You’ll be asked to do all sorts of things, but it’ll never get physical. And as long as you aren’t arrogant or cocky, you are always safe.
4. It’s not the same as school. You’ve done MUNs, debates and quizzes at your school? Fine, stop boasting about it. I don’t know how it works, but the trend shows that the achievers at Law Schools have rarely done anything huge in schools. Your experience with public speaking might help you a bit. But, be ready to get your ass kicked in a way you’d never imagined. Having been successful at school means nothing; many people discover their true potential in college.
5. It’s okay to fail. Definitely. More than anything, the fear of failing comes from the threat of embarrassment or ridicule that one might face. The people who make fun of you or gossip about you shouldn’t bother you. They weren’t really wishing for you to succeed, anyway. And there’s no reason why you’ve to prove yourself to them. If something goes wrong, chin up and move on. Being depressed will only hurt you more. Your life will not change because you won/lost in a competition.
6. Sucking up. There are those who suck up to the faculty and those to the seniors. You might do it to make them like you. But, it rarely works. Both faculty and seniors are smart enough to figure out that you’re going out of your way to be nice/sweet to them. Apart from backfiring and making them dislike you all the more, it won’t do much else.
7. Overrating personal relations. Law Schools aren’t all that good when it comes to making friends. It’s always a dilemma to figure out if someone’s trustworthy or not. If someone’s being real nice to you, be a little sceptical. That doesn’t mean you won’t find genuine people. You will, a lot of them, in fact. And when you do, do whatever it takes to keep them from walking away. You’ll need them at times that’ll pinch your butt. You may not like a few things they do, but as long as they aren’t bad people, you have no reason to chuck them. Be liberal, for you’ll hardly find someone who’s entirely shaadi.com-type-compatible with you.
8. Distinguish personal from professional relations. Personally, I had a very hard time doing this and I’m still not sure if I’m capable of it. There’s a very bright and clear line between both of them and you can avoid a hell lot of controversies by not crossing it. People have lost their best of friends only because of a brawl over a moot/competition. If there’s ever a conflict, always prefer your personal relationships.
9. Don’t lose yourself. We have a farewell where every person from the passing out batch goes on stage and says something he/she wants to pass onto their juniors. If there’s one thing that has been said over and over again, it’s this: The chap that walks in to join the Law School is definitely not the one who leaves. Intellectually, it’s indeed good, but, not if it’s about the kind of person he/she was. The competition makes them so desperate that they end up forgetting what they were at the beginning. Keep a check on yourself throughout. Nothing’s worth as much as you are.
10. And last. You are going to be a lawyer. To quote Prof. Amita Dhanda, a senior professor at NALSAR, “Lawyers are wordsmiths. They make their bread and butter using words”. And you won’t remotely look like one if u typ lyk dis. There’s a sanctity in typing in proper English and not stooping down to being jejemonic. Maintain that.