By request, here are my 5 simple rules for law school orientation:
5. Dress appropriately.
How you present yourself1 during orientation will shape how people think of you for the rest of the semester.
And no, you don’t need to buy designer clothes – the point is that you can look put-together without wearing your church clothes, or looking like a Kinko’s manager (no high-water khakis please.)
My experience: There was a girl who wore the same thing throughout orientation: ass-cheek exposing shorts, a red tank top, an oversized hoodie, and her greasy hair in a sloppy bun. She was a super-smart girl, but she looked like she smelled, and was called uncharitable names (like slutty hobo) for the rest of the year.
When in doubt, women should check out their local Forever21 for a quick cheap but put-together look or Banana Republic for personal assistance on what is flattering your body type.
4. Check the hormones.
This isn’t the first day of college.
Bedding your classmates will come back to haunt you. This is professional school, not Tinder.
3. Check the ego.
It takes people a while to understand that law school is actually a level playing field. Unless you ditched a full ride at Harvard for Nowhere University, you are probably not the smartest kid in your class. So be careful, because the section-mate you are bragging to just might be a PhD or getting a dual degree in Rocket Science.
Also, no one cares how much time you spent reading hornbooks during the summer, how prestigious your undergrad was, or how much money you made in your former job. You are in law school. Save yourself the ego-check and humble yourself before you get to school.
The grades are based on finals, so you don’t get any points for intimidating your classmates during orientation.
My experience: During orientation, the entire 1L class was in an auditorium. Some prestigious lawyer gave us a lecture about his experience and this girl raised her hand, preceded to tell the speaker (and the entire 1L class) about a lengthy book she read on a completely different subject, and asked the lawyer for his thoughts on the book.
The presenter’s mouth said: “Uh, I haven’t read that one.” His face added: “You crazy bitch.”
She was “that girl” for the rest of the semester. (that post is here)
2: Don’t overshare.
Your classmates will get to know you in time. Disclosing things too early will just earn you a reputation as a socially inept.
We don’t need to know about your DUIs, roaring undergraduate drug habits, or thoughts about your weight.
We also don’t need your blog address. We’ll stalk you when we add you on facebook.
1: Hold the hooch.
This happens at every school outside of Utah: after orientation, you will head to a local pub with your section-mates, someone will get crunk and embarrass themselves.
And in law school, no one bothers to stop a social train wreck.
Law students will just stand by and chuckle nervously as the disaster unfolds – and because no one ever says anything, this behavior is repeated throughout the year. Don’t be that guy.
And remember it is not too late to get the essential law school summer reading:
- First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You by Ann Demarais and Valerie White
- Overachievement: The New Model for Exceptional Performance by John Eliot
1Some schools have formal orientation dress codes, most don’t.
Extra Reading: I recommend “First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You” for a scientific perspective on how we come across to others. I wish that I had read this book much earlier in life.