Law School: The Post-1L World
“During 1L they scare you to death,” the common law school adage goes, “during 2L they work you to death, and during 3L they bore you to death.” It’s already pretty clear (in Week Three of 2L) that at least the second part of that saying is rather true. At the literal moment of this writing* (at least, the writing of this paragraph), I am already in Hour Nine of a thirteen hour work day comprising of an International Law Review (“ILR”) meeting, research for my ILR Note, and preparing for more call back interviews later this week. That’s in addition to reading casebooks and four classes (we are still taking classes, after all). This day comes on the heels of a long day yesterday, ending in a three hour SBA Senate meeting. In short, fall of 2L is a rather unenviable semester for law students.
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t change it for anything. It is an incredibly exciting time – myriad new experiences open up to you as a 2L at GW. From being on the Moot Court or Mock Trial Boards (you can join through the 1L competitions during your first year, but you don’t really become seriously involved until 2L) to membership on a journal and literally hundreds of fascinating courses in every topic imaginable, it’s a great time. There is also the excitement (and yes, stress) that comes with the 2L summer job search (to clarify for our non-law school readers, 2L’s are currently in the process of applying and interviewing for jobs beginning in May or June 2012, after the current academic year). Like 1L, the 2L job search is one of those law school experiences that every lawyer in the United States goes through in some form or another. It is one of the links that allows those of us in the legal profession to relate to each other no matter where we studied.
The most marked change from last year is the ability to pick courses as a 2L. Regardless of whether you loved or hated 1L classes, being able to choose courses for 2L is wonderful. I thankfully liked my 1L classes in general, but it does not compare to the ownership you feel when you actually get to pick subjects, professors, and schedules. My professors this semester are fascinating individuals teaching interesting classes. Through his seemingly infinite knowledge of Supreme Court justices and incomparable wit, Professor Schwartz has brought administrative law to life in a way I thought impossible. Professor Steinhardt has been able, in two weeks, to present customary international law such that it doesn’t even feel like going to class at all (you really should take Professor Steinhardt even if it is just to see his hilarious beanie-wearing Civ Pro weenie impersonation regarding the Erie Doctrine’s connection to customary international law). Professor Karen Brown has been able to get me to understand gross income (“GI”), adjusted gross income (“AGI”) and taxable income (which is kind of a feat). And Professors O’Toole and Dayson, who teach a seminar on the death penalty, bring an amazing real world perspective on the application of seminal Supreme Court cases addressing the constitutionality of the ultimate criminal sentence.
Writing a Note for a journal is also a wonderful 2L experience. Over the course of this year, each student on a journal is required to write a scholarly note. As a member of ILR, my note has to be on an international topic, which is increasingly looking like it will be the jurisdiction of the Central American Court of Justice (the “CCJ” by its Spanish acronym). I still need to find a specific thesis, but that will come with more research and time. This experience, and the journal experience more broadly, allows 2Ls to maintain and hone their legal writing skills, and to produce a wonderful scholarly piece of writing that may very well be published either in their journal at GW Law, or elsewhere.
This is just a taste of what the first two and a half weeks of 2L have looked like. It’s a busy time, a stressful time, but also an incredibly exciting one.
* This was written on Tuesday, September 13, 2011, in the afternoon.