#Day1Law

Those of you on twitter may have seen me post a plea for thoughts on people’s first day at law school #day1law. Over 400 people responded. The responses were fabulous. Stretched across the legal world and well beyond. Contained a good deal of information about teenage drinking in Scotland, and several pleas for some feedback on what the stuff said.

I am now going to do that, so the information is available to all you good folks to use as you see fit (a little bit attribution and a link back to the blog would be super as would sight of anything groovy you manage to make of this). Anyway, before I do that I should point out to that this is a long way from being a clean, representative sample. It’s dirty as hell, and not in an erotic way. Although orgies get a mention. As do tap dancing horses. There’s also what looks like a funny joke about perfume.

Not only is it a sample drawn mainly from my twitter followers (lots of academics, and barristers with way too much time on their hands), some of the answerers are casting their mind back to 1980. I kid you not. Mind you I can still remember how to play the Mexican Hat Dance on the recorder from then, so who am I to doubt the accuracy, and all that? Also, some were complaining about feeling old because they graduated in the 2000s. It seems the shallow lake of self-pity spreads far and wide. 1990. And I am totally over it.

So. To business.

How was the first day, or first few weeks for our beloved recipients?

He’s one of those word cloud thingies concentrating on the feelings and adjectives I spotted…

FirstDayLawEvaluativeWords

Well, mixed. It would be fair to say but, you know, EXCITED. Quite a few felt immediately at home. Stimulated more than seems reasonable. Others hated it and a few wanted to leave (not many amongst this crew). Having taken a closer look I would say the strongest feelings were of disorientation, or of being daunted, mixed with excitement. That fears came from a few sources, which I would label casually as: imposter syndrome; social differentiation; and, cognitive chaos.

These quote capture some of the chaos:

…Absolutely everything was unfamiliar. Felt like learning a new cognitive structure.

…Really hard work – the reading lists seemed endless and I was not sure I was grasping anything.

…Scary, lonely & overwhelming (particularly pressure to be “having a good time”) but also exciting & felt weirdly optimistic, despite the former feelings!

 

Or this rather marvellous description…

craig

The sense that law schools may not always have helped, be helping, students through these early weeks as well as they might have leaked into some of the comments. [On being better at this see this by Hélène Tyrrell and Joshua Jowitt out recently in the Law Teacher].

…Grown up. Daunting. Exciting. A bit competitive.
…Chaotic, unsettling. Like Alice in Wonderland.
…Stimulating but not exactly welcoming from dept. …Law school is confusing and scary first year.
…Felt like I was learning a new language. Very overwhelming
….A mix of fascinating, utterly dull, totally confusing and a bit intimidating.
….Baffling. Like an undifferentiated torrent of facts and ideas. I had no scaffolding or taxonomy for what I was learning.
…Teaching a horse to tapdance. It’s not going well

Imposter syndrome stemmed from the complexity, and size, of the work to be tackled, but also from social factors:

Like I had landed on the moon (only with pubs) and couldn’t speak the language. Being asked sincerely more than once whether, being Scouse, I had indoor plumbing back home didn’t help.…

…very confusing. intimidating. Lots of people who seemed filled with self confidence talking about how much money they would earn, while I was learning a new language. I hated it so much I wanted to leave…

…[I was] an imposter. Proud. Excited. Daunted

Some (many?) of those who felt, or were made to feel, different also tended to feel inferior, at least initially:

Observing cliques form and majority of people trying to determine who they should be / should be like.

…everyone seemed to know what they were doing, and they were all much younger than me

…Full of posh confident people with floppy hair …full of hope and misplaced self confidence and very aware that socially I was way out of my depth.

…Scary new people…it seemed like everyone else knew what they were doing & had all these connections except me)….

…Everyone is so clever. Did they make a mistake when they let me in here?

But just as the social milieu presented challenges, so it provided delights:

….First few weeks challenged everything I thought I knew. Which was A Good Thing.

….Loved it. Interesting people. Interesting questions;

…Mind-bending, mind expanding, a bit overwhelming, but marvellous…

…I loved it. Such an interesting mix of people, contexts and ambitions.

…Moving to a new city (Birmingham yay!). Meeting new people. The ‘law’ bit was also not so bad.

And the overwhelming sense of excitement was, with reasonable regularity,  intellectual too:

Brilliant. I knew instantly that it was a life-changing positive thing…

Enjoying the subject, but worried I ought to be having more fun and making more friends…

…Overwhelming, terrifying, exciting. An intense experience: huge amount to learn in a short time, often v. dry (once understood, fascinating to see world via a legal perspective)

…Intellectual orgy. School had been keeping the secrets to the world from me and here they were-…Exciting. Full of opportunities. Grown up.

Bachinalian positivists of the world, unite. Just not by here.*

If one takes a look at all the tweets to see what career aspirations Day1 law students had one sees a lot of variety, and uncertainty, as well as a lot of wannabe barristers (I gently remind long-standing readers of the post that will not be mentioned here for fear of causing offence). This is the Word Cloud of their aspirations (written with hindsight of course and some artistic licence too I would wager).

Wannabe

Petrocelli does not get as much of a mention as he deserves, plainly. Where they ended up is shown here…

Be be

But you can take a closer look by clicking on one of the crosses in the grid below. Each one tells a story of #Day1Law. Through the lens of twitter of course. But interesting. Revealing even. Hopefully a resource for law students and some of their teachers. And I am very grateful for everyone who contributed. Consider this an orgy of kisses to you all…

 

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X 

Or you can link to the actual tweet and its replies here.

_________________________

*As I am about to leave Wales, permit this little joke for my Welsh readers.

 

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