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1L Frequently asked questions

August 8, 2009

The soon-to-be 1Ls are lighting up my inbox, and I’m starting to get duplicate questions.

The typical email starts with a variation of “Hi, I start law school the fall. I saw your blog, and didn’t get a chance to read it. Can you answer these questions?” I can, I did, and I will – but don’t be offended if you’re linked to this post (or this one).

Here are some of the common questions this week:
1L: “I’m thinking of getting a rolly backpack…and”
A: No, no, no, no, no, no, NO. Do not. Put down the fug and step away slowly. Yes we see people considering them every year, and it confuses me. Assuming your law school has student lockers, there is no reason for you to carry around 5 law books at one time, so a rolly bag is unnecessary. I simply carry my books in my hand because typically I’m going to my locker to exchange one book for another. And I find that when I’m studying, I’m not going to focus on more than one or two classes, so dragging a stack of books to the library is unnecessary. Don’t be that guy or girl who looks like they are about to catch the next flight to fugvilleSee: Jill on backpacks

1L: “What supplements should I buy?”
A: I recommend waiting for your professor to recommend a supplement. Check the syllabus. Some professors teach from the supplements, and other professors insist that you shouldn’t read anything but your casebook. I also recommend waiting to buy supplements until the middle of the semester when you have a better idea of what you don’t know. You’re not going to score any points or good will by bringing up obscure arguments from a hornbook. If you are inconsolably freaked out, then make a few purchases from West’s Nutshell series. These tend to be just enough to get you grounded in a subject. If you feel cheap, then wait until you get your LexisNexis and Westlaw passwords. Westlaw contains treatises like Wright & Miller (for Civil Procedure) and Lexis has course outlines.

1L: “I want to start a blog but I don’t know if I can keep up with it…”
A: Assuming your blogging goals are somewhat similar to mine (see post here), then my best advice is to sign up for a blog at wordpress.com and give it a shot. The trick is to post every day, even if it’s just a sentence or two. The second you stop posting consistently is when your blog is most likely to die. And yes, most blawgs die. See Three Years of Hell, and Frugal

1L (following up): “Why wordpress?”
A: WordPress is the standard for blogging software. WordPress.com accounts are free and easily customizable. The problem with blogspot and typepad blogs is that these services don’t have as many options and it is harder for people to comment on those blogs. Also, if you’re feeling fancy, you can get a dot com address for your wordpress.com blog for only $15-20 a year. I’m pretty sure this is what Huma of humarashid.com did. And please, when you get a new blog, don’t spam everyone’s blogs with your new address.

1L: “Okay, so I’ve seen in your fashion post that things can get really petty…are law students really that immature or is it just you?”
A: Let me remind you that I am not Oprah. All of my advice comes with a hefty dose of salt. Wear what makes you feel comfortable. Just do so with the realization that some of your peers are as petty as I am (see here). Think of it like this: you are in professional school. Showing up looking like a hot mess for law school is the equivalent of accusing your coworkers of being immature because you decided to show up at the office in pink, bejeweled crocs. Now, yes, the fact that someone is sitting at the UMN library, enraged that a classmate is wearing flipflops is silly, but I think that flip flops during orientation is more akin to the pink crocs at the office. See Think Like a Woman, Act like a Man.

Female 1L: “If I start blogging will have creepy men hiding in the bushes outside of my apartment?”
A: There will probably be creepy men hiding in the bushes outside of your apartment, but it won’t be because of your blog. Think of online privacy as a bicycle lock. Your average bicycle lock is going to stop the vast majority of bike thieves, but no bike lock can stop that rare, determined bike thief. The same thing is true for stalkers. The rare stalker is going to stalk regardless of how good your pseudonym is, and regardless of how carefully you guard your online presence. Frankly, so much information is available via public directories and information companies (like Lexis), that the rare crazy is not going to be stopped by anything but the Tazer x3 in your purse. So no, don’t post a picture of your apartment with the address and a challenge, but also don’t be afraid to use your real name – because frankly, it’s not a secret. See also: 3 years of hell, and  Fresh Thought Soup.

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