Dear 1Ls – You Do You, Boo

Rona Ghanbari (2L) 

As you enter your second month of 1L (holy crap a month as already gone by WHAAATT???) you may be inundated with many different feelings and thoughts such as: “Hm that wasn’t as bad as I thought”, “Oh my god this is so hard I already feel like I’m drowning,” “I don’t understand that contracts case so I guess imma fail,” or maybe even “Tonight I’m definitely going to watch Mean Girls on repeat and do no schoolwork at all.” Alternatively, you may be thinking absolutely none of those things because I am not a mind reader and also who the hell am I to tell you what you should be thinking?

As I’m sure you’ve all noticed, upper year law students, lawyers, professors, and even your friends who aren’t in law school are all super keen to give you advice—advice about studying, advice about course selection, even advice about your career. These people are undoubtedly well-meaning and very kind to go out of their way to try to help you have the best 1L experience EVER. Some of these people may be super experienced and the advice they have to offer may be extremely valuable. Heck, I’ve been handing out my best advice like free candy. But just like free candy from a stranger, you should be cautious when taking advice.

In 1L I asked everyone I knew what they thought of XYZ thing. What extracurriculars should I join? What grades do I need to get? How exactly do I get those grades? What social events should I go to? What firms should I apply for? Should I do a clinic? Should I do a journal? (answer: NO) Should I travel? Should I sit at home crying endlessly to reruns of Recess while eating an extra-large pizza to myself? Sometimes their help and advice was super helpful, and other times it just left me feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. Ultimately, I made a series of random decisions that didn’t replicate all the exact decisions of any person I spoke to, and I have to say that, to my sincere and utter shock, my life didn’t crash and burn around me.

No one person’s advice or experience will be entirely right or representative for you. There are such a wide variety of opportunities for you to pursue, such a huge range of career options, and an exceedingly high number of social events you can choose to say yes or no to—and you shouldn’t feel guilty either way, no matter what anyone’s advice is. So while I condone asking people abut their experiences, their careers, and their thoughts, just remember that your legal education and your career are yours to build! You do you 1Ls. Do exactly what you want to do here at U of T law, and chances are that you’ll end up somewhere amazing no matter what you choose.