Same Time, Last Year…Reflections From a 1L Guest Blogger

Jake Klonoski, a current 1L, writes about waiting to hear – something you all are familiar with.  Read through this posting and know that there is an end in sight.  I especially like his advice about planning an adventure before starting law school.  Well, it’s actually his wife’s advice so kudos to Katie for that.  If you do take this very good advice on seeking out an adventure, keep me posted.  I love these kind of stories  and you may find yourself being a guest blogger here.  Remind me sometime to tell you about The Great Western Trip chronicling a group of 1Ls driving cross-country to get to SLS.  Let’s be clear, though.  This possible guest blog gig  is only an option if you choose SLS. And, now, I turn it over to Jake…

The feeling is wonderful.  You hit send on the LSAC website and all the LSAT studying and worrying over essay application wording, all the consideration about letters of recommendation and resumé polishing is over.  Now all the law school application boards have to do is appreciate how unique and wonderful your application is and surely you’ll be in.


After all, you did everything possible…

For me, the feeling lasted about 2 hours.  Then the worrying began.

It started with the realization that the bullet indenting on two different sections of my resumé had been a bit off.  Was it possible to fax or mail in a corrected copy, I called to ask one school?  Would sending in a correction count for me – or against me?  Did it even matter?

Then it spread to the thought that I should have asked my recommendation writers to address each school specifically in all of their letters.  Not just in the opening, but in the letter content as well.  Maybe I could whip together some wording suggestions for them – at least for my top choices.  That was not unreasonable, right?  They could then send revised letter directly to the school.

By the end of the week, I found myself looking up the February LSAT schedule.  Maybe taking it again wasn’t such a bad idea – what could it hurt?

After all, this was law school, something I had been thinking about for years, and if a bit of extra work could make the difference between a great school and a good school, shouldn’t I push that extra bit?  What if I didn’t go the extra mile and that would have made the difference?

“What if…” – terrible words.  They will drive you insane.  And it is all too easy to find them repeated in law school applicant chat rooms (what dreadful places!), especially as other applicants report decision letters being received.

In the end, it was my wife who pulled me back from the edge – it is such a blessing to marry someone smarter than yourself.  She had gone through law school years before and knew that decisions took months and that my worrying accomplished nothing more that ruining those first months of the year.

And so she offered me three suggestions, three things I could do to use the time well.  I pass them on here, in hopes that they do as much (or more) good for others as they did for me:

1) Settle your debts and kiss folks good-bye.  Though you might go into law school understanding that it will not take over your life, that is the same understanding the Copiapó miners had as they went to work on August 5th before being trapped underground for 69 days.

Law school is intense and having time now to tell people what they mean to you, to warn them you might be out of touch, and to do the rounds with far-flung family and friends is invaluable.  Use the time – you never know how the world will change when they dig you out of 1L year.

2) Commit to yourself.  It is easy to lose perspective as you are swept up in the rushing energy of Stanford law school, the flood of loans, or the rising tide of legal knowledge that spills over you once you are on campus – and SLS is a West Coast school!  Before I even arrived on campus, I had written and rewritten my application essay so many times I could barely remember what had possessed me to apply to law school in the first place.

As a solution, Dalia Lithwick (SLS ’96) suggests that new law students take time to write themselves a letter (while you still can write!), to be opened upon graduation, reminding their future selves what the original (brilliant? naïve? crazy?) idea had been when the law school journey began.  My letter awaits my (optimistic hope of) graduation in 2013.

3) Plan an adventure.  Fond memories of the summer before 1L year can sustain you through a lot of library pain, and a good desktop photo can give you a huge energy boost in November.  More importantly, I am told that brilliant legal arguments are often grounded in exposure to reality.  This type of exposure can be in short supply while in law school, so grab this last chance to learn about something new in the real world.  “Adventure” can encompass travel, volunteering, or working somewhere interesting (ideally, your finances can be enhanced rather than drained).  And your classmates will be grateful if you have something interesting to talk about during Orientation.

But don’t overdo it – I made the mistake of grabbing a chance with the US Navy to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia (great photos for the desktop!) but lost out on the chance to settle my debts/kiss folks good-bye as a result.  Balance is required – a key lesson for a law student to understand.

In the end, law school will happen – for better or worse.  At SLS, it is certainly for the better, but regardless life has a way of working things out.  Again, the most important thing you can come into law school with is an appreciation for life’s balances.  These months doing something other than worrying about applications are a needed opportunity to practice that balance, because the three years ahead will challenge your balancing skills to the max.

As a final note – I did not send in a revised resumé nor did I try to redesign my letters of recommendations.  And I definitely did not take the February LSAT.  And things worked out pretty well.

In the end, there are just more important things to worry about than bullet alignment on your resumé.

As an example for future classmates, at SLS there are mountain lions on campus.  Beware.