Solace for 1Ls
As a crim law professor teaching first-semester 1Ls, it seems that a large part of my time is spent not just teaching the law, but advising, counseling, and hand-holding. All part of the territory, I know. But what to do when your students begin to ask you about study tips, or strategies for outlining, or asks your advice on job interviews? Usually I just mumble something about "be organized" and leave it at that. Not this year, though. No, this year I finally Have An Answer:
Nancy Rapoport and Jeffery Van Niel's Law School Survival Manual
This slim volume, published by Aspen, is truly a lifesaver not just for the confused or anxious student but also for any 1L professor hoping to impart useful advice. Best of all, it's funny--a wry tone which is a cross between Miss Manners and Dennis Miller. My personal favorite part is the chapter discussing "Some Universal Truths" about law school, which includes etiquette hints like "Don't Be an Insufferable Braggart" and provides answers to such eternal questions as: 1) Does it matter where I sit in class? 2)If I really, really have to go to the bathroom during class, is it ok if I get up and leave? 3)What harm is there in surfing the web in class or IM'ing my friends if I'm bored?
In fact, my only caveat about this book is that it gives too sharp of a look into the reality of law school and law teaching--do I really want my students to be reading about "Favorite Law Professor Games"? Probably not. But otherwise, this book would have been great to have when I was a student, both for the practical and intelligent advice and the gently humorous tone it uses to poke fun at most law school sacred cows.
I'll leave you with one last bit of advice from the authors:
"Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster . . . for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." --Friedrich Nietzche
Nietzche, Miss Manners for Law School, How to Outline....this book has it all. --Professor Laura I. Appleman