What Should I Be Asking?

Suhasini Rao (1L)

There is a universal truth known to anyone who followed Timothy Goes To School during its three seasons of glory: starting a new chapter of your life can be overwhelming. While some 1Ls may have followed the steps of Doris the Beaver, more of us might relate to Timothy himself and found that to be true when starting law school.[1]

The law school, however, seems to have anticipated these feelings, and it has made it clear, since the first day, that everyone around us is available to answer questions. In practice, this doesn’t actually mean “everyone.” This question-answering role seems to only apply to a select group of upper year students, staff, faculty, other similar personnel who always appear from just around the corner, à la Scooby Doo. Within moments of entering the law school, it becomes clear the number of staff rivals the amount found in ‘80s fantasy novels.

The question-answering role of those around us is so emphasised, one asks the obvious: What should I be asking? What is there that I don’t know about? One begins to wonder if the original point of this was to bring us around to this type of thinking, but I’m beginning to suspect they may just be genuinely nice people.

Alongside the constant reminder that we can ask anyone and “everyone” a question, we are warned of our future almost weekly. Even Dean Iacobucci alluded to this future in his welcoming speech to the 1L class, noting that he was not a great dinner companion during his law school days. This leads to more wondering: What if we are already awful at parties? Is it actually possible to get worse? But “everyone” has not answered this yet, and so I have abstained from reaching out to any past friends for reconciliation.[2]

While many will, of course, provide valuable answers, others will have no answers, yet be just as valuable. This is not just a Millennial Participation Award; as your colleagues, they have value as new friends and acquaintances. When you find yourself needing to talk about the reforms to Singapore’s constitution and its dramatic recent election, you will probably come to this new group of friends first.

For some, you may even notice that not all friends will be new;starting law school will also include remembering past acquaintances. That kid from preschool who ate raw macaroni? He is in your legal methods class.[3] That friend of a friend you may have met, but none of you really remember? You will talk about your mutual friend’s new haircut for seven minutes.[4] A girl from your undergraduate institution who says she met you at a party? You will meet her at the Equity Social and feel conflicted about being honest about your (lack of) social life.[5]

Throughout all this, you will be taking Legal Methods. As some of your more enlightened classmates breeze through terms like volenti non injuria—owing to a more-than-cursory knowledge of Latin, or a past degree from Oxford—some might Google the term “reasonable” an unreasonable number of times.[6]

Once Orientation Week comes to a close, with Snacks and Ch1L no longer providing its mini tangerines to stave off scurvy, you may find yourself reflecting on this experience as a whole.[7] While starting law school may be overwhelming, you will also find a plentitude of support and resources. We have the privilege not only of learning how to be advocates for others, but also of having a great number of people be advocates for us.[8] This transition is made easier when we know academic support, health support, and peer support exists. And, if you can’t find the right conclusion for your article, your peer mentor can give you the reassuring advice you need for The End.


[1] Timothy Goes to School was an aptly named TV show (2000-04) that followed the adventures of a raccoon named Timothy as he went to school. Most of the episodes deal with universal lessons of making new friends and being kind.

[2] I’m sorry I didn’t listen carefully to your dog story. He is very cute and has nice ears, but he had no salient critiques of Batman v Superman 2016 DC, so it’s really your fault for not educating him, isn’t it?

[3] This did not happen.

[4] This probably happened.

[5] This happened to me.

[6] If you put in an “unreasonable” number of requests on Google Scholar, you will have to do a CAPTCHA and prove you are not a robot. However, it should be noted that completing the CAPTCHA does not actually provide you with any certificate proving that you are not a robot (preferably in a form that employers and “loved” ones would accept).

[7] Maybe even by completing the O-Week Feedback form.

[8] Some of whom also learned how to be advocates while others advocated for them. It’s a vicious cycle.