Good Faith Advice

Dearest UCI Law Community,

Welcome to another exciting year of law school in Irvine! One of the aspects of UCI Law’s culture that I love the most is the inclusive and supportive nature of our campus. The Voice is emblematic of that spirit, and I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to keep this tradition of comradery alive. As you move through your busy schedules, I invite you to drop me a line, let me know how things are going and whether you’re looking for some input. I’m happy to share my thoughts and hopefully add some helpful perspective. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do promise to listen, reflect, and respond thoughtfully, and, with any luck, articulately. Here’s to a wonderful school year!

Yours truly,
Mary Poppins

 

Hello One and All,

Welcome to the Good Faith Advice Column! I am so honored to be taking the reins from Socrates and Gertrude and I hope I can adequately fill their shoes. I hope to impart upon those of you seeking advice what I have learned from my time at UCI Law, both from the many times I have stumbled and the times I have prospered. I have found our community to be so helpful and open and do not forget that. We are all there for you.

Cluing you in,
Nancy Drew

 

Question: I keep finding myself too exhausted to do anything. I want to take advantage of every opportunity the law school provides but I don’t know how I can keep up with everything and bathe. How can I maintain some sort of balance (and my sanity)?

Sincerely,
Battery low

 

Dear Battery low,

Thanks for your honesty. You are not alone; please remind yourself that every once in awhile. Some law students prefer to believe they are superhuman and attempt to do all the things all the time without consequences in some area of their lives. For better or for worse, law school life doesn’t work that way. Don’t get me wrong; we are all super in our own way, but it’s just not feasible to take advantage of every opportunity and keep up with everything. You’re welcome to try, but I don’t recommend it.

Work/school-life balance is hard. That’s the truth, and it’s difficult to find ways of adopting a schedule or routine that works best for you. But one important thing to remember is to focus on you: your needs, goals, and desires. No, I’m not suggesting you become completely selfish and self-absorbed. But I am suggesting that you think about your priorities in all aspects of life. In the school context, what makes you feel fulfilled? Do you want to get to know your professors better? Do you want to volunteer for a pro bono project or two? How much time do you want to dedicate to reading and studying for class? In the personal context, what did you do before law school that makes you happy, that you find relaxing, that stimulates you? What are a few things that you can and want to make time for on a regular, daily, weekly basis? Who do you want to spend time with? Who do you care about? I know these questions may seem pretty basic, but it’s pretty telling how many people forget to reflect upon these fundamental questions as they move through their law school careers.

A wise law school professor once said that if she could offer one key piece of advice about how to survive law school, it would be to “preserve your core.” In the midst of all the various activities, pressures, opportunities, disappointments, and successes, it is important to hold onto your values, the things that make you distinctly you. People change in law school; that’s to be expected and even embraced. But as you change, make sure to check in with yourself and ask, “Why am I doing this? Am I staying true to myself? Is this worth it?” Sometimes, or perhaps most of the time, you’ll be exhausted, but if you’re able to say that you honestly believe in the decisions you’ve made and the “balance” you’ve chosen, you’re probably doing something right. In the crazy world of law school, that’s often the best we can ask for.

Happy recharging,
Mary Poppins

 

Dear Battery Low,

I am glad that you have asked this question and acknowledged how overwhelming law school can be. Many of your classmates have felt, are feeling, or will feel this way at some point over the 3 years. For me, I struggled mightily in the second semester of law school. I was able to reach out to a couple great friends who were there for me when I needed them as well as the counseling services offered by UCI, and I was able to find a balance. I worked at it, but the balance, for me, is something I must continue to maintain and work on throughout law school and the rest of my life.

I remember talking to a professor my first year and what she said has stuck with me. I do not remember the context, who else was with me, or even which professor said it but the sentiment is important: There is always more you can do in law school. If you finish all your reading for a class, you could read the treatise. If you do Law Review, you can do Moot Court. If you do Law Review, and Moot Court, you can do 200 hours of Pro Bono. There is always more. It’s like a huge entrée at The Cheesecake Factory. You keep eating and keep eating, but you hardly even make a dent. Eventually, you must decide when you are full or you will get sick. You must also remember to save a little room for the dessert.

So what will make you full and what dessert are you going to get? Every opportunity that law school provides is valuable but missing that one lunch speaker or dropping this club will not be the deciding factor in what job you get. Bathing, on the other hand, might be.

Cluing you in,
Nancy Drew

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