Have you ever tried to put together an enormous jigsaw puzzle? When you empty the box out, you have a jumble of pieces that apparently create a single, unified image . . . but it's hard to see the end result amidst the piles of individual pieces. Then you begin sorting the pieces, perhaps by color, perhaps by edges vs non-edges. And slowly, the foundation of your jigsaw puzzle begins to form. Next, you try to connect pieces, searching for the perfect fit. You keeping trying piece after piece, and gradually the image begins to take shape. Finally, there are just a few pieces left, and it seems easy to find their places since the bulk of the project is complete. And then it is finished. You step back and survey your work, reveling in the accomplishment.
Law school can be likened to just such a jigsaw puzzle. The required courses, the writing assignments, the experiential classes . . . they each constitute individual pieces of the puzzle of law. As you work through each class, your initial focus is, and should be, on learning the information and passing the class. But what about after the class is over and the final is complete? Should you simply abandon that portion of the puzzle? Or keep it in place and connect it to other portions of the puzzle? In the moment, it can be difficult to see the big picture, the final image, that law school works towards - attaining the ability and honor of practicing law.
Students often work through the night to memorize material for their finals, but they subsequently forget all the information they strove so mightily to retain. They fail to see how each class in law school weaves into the others, and how together they form a complete picture. Civil and criminal procedure along with the rules of evidence apply throughout all matters brought before the courts. The concepts of torts, property, contracts, criminal law, and constitutional law weave together to form the fundamentals of our legal system. The American approach to law remains relatively uniform regardless of the specific subject matter. These concepts apply, not only to the study for the MBE portion of the bar exam, but to practice in general. While you may graduate and begin practice in a specific field, developing your base knowledge of the law is vital since you never know what cases may land on your desk.
Furthermore, the underlying skills of research, reasoning, and writing are irreplaceable to any attorney. Cultivating an attitude of learning and a desire to constantly strive for higher understanding helps a student go from the day-to-day homework and finals to the big picture. If you can look beyond the duldrums of the moment and see how you are developing skills for life, you may find renewed zeal and vigor for your law school studies. Try to see law school in a new light -- not as the hazing process we all have to suffer through before becoming attorneys, but rather as the necessary training to give you the tools and abilities you will need to be a successful attorney. If you can change your perspective, you can change your attitude. And if you change your attitude, you'll be amazed at how the picture grows clearer.