In just a few more months, students will start preparing for the long and arduous journey of legal studies, and whether they have been dreaming of this their whole life or just simply trying their luck on a new career path, it is certain that this road less traveled, is still a complete mystery to those brave souls. This is why The LaSallian asked DLSU Law’s aspiring lawyers a few important questions on the trials and tribulations that incoming students should know about law school.
In order to provide for a closer and deeper glimpse on what really goes on, we limited the queries to those that every student right now wished they knew about the study of law, and everything in between. The questions were asked to different people and corresponded to the year of each student, making sure that all levels and perspectives are presented. Students will also remain anonymous in order to preserve the authenticity of their answers.
Answers have been edited to fully convey the message, emotion, and gravity of their words.
1. What’s been the most unexpected challenge you faced in law school that you didn’t think about coming in?
Rachel: I think what really surprised me about law school is the amount of drama that people around me always seemed to bring (laughs). I really thought people would be mature and focused on their classes, but it seemed clear as you go along that there are those who will do anything not just to pass their subject, but bring people down just so they look much better in comparison. I’ve experienced similar moments like these before, but I still find it crazy how people can tell you this one thing, and completely tell you another behind your back. Law school in itself is crazy as it is, but one thing freshmen should prepare themselves for are those people who are even crazier. “Me term nga kami dito eh, tawag naming sa kanila mga crabs, kasi ang hilig nila manghila ng mga tao (laugh).
TLS: Do you have an opinion on why you think these people exist in a career that demands honesty and nobility?
R: You know, if I knew the answer to that, I don’t think we’d be talking about it. Even my friends outside school can’t believe people like them exist. It’s really disheartening that I’ve heard more stories of people cheating in exams and backstabbing other people here than my whole college experience. To me personally, it’s either they’ve been spoiled their whole life that they feel completely entitled to their actions, or they are clearly not happy where they are, which eventually brings out the worst in them.
In both cases, I wish them the courage and strength to start over, because everyone deserves to be in a place that they can grow and be happy. Law school should be something that gives you hope, not make you desperate; and always remember that respect will go a long way in anything you want to achieve.
2. Can you give a specific moment during that time where you felt like you were going to crack, and explain how you handled it?
Mike: The first and last time I felt like I was going to crack was during the first midterm exams of the first semester. It was the midterm exam for Constitutional Law and I just froze when I saw my block mates leave the room one by one. Unsure of my answers and my thoughts all over the place, I rushed through the questions and made me question why I’m in law school when the simplest thing such as block mates leaving the room pressured me already. I think in this type of academic setting, we are somehow trained to know the law, but also to ultimately know our limitations, character, and motivations. That moment of self-realization gave me the motivation to not feel like “breaking” because at the end of the day, you can always tell yourself “I did it” and that’s enough to get you through day by day.
3. What has been a guilty pleasure you’ve been using or have started using to get you by in law school?
Louis: I think I started developing a knack for binging on food and drinking a bit more alcohol than I should be (proceeds to laugh), because you know how stressful it can be, so it’s good to let loose a little and pig out after a very stressful class. I guess if there really was a vice I got really into during law school is eating a lot because it definitely helps me cope. And although I wouldn’t call it a vice, I also make time to see my girlfriend every week.
TLS: I think in law school, having relationships can be considered a guilty pleasure, some actually end it upon getting into the study, but for you it’s something really important?
L: Definitely. Relationships are very important for me in general. I was very fortunate to meet someone that just gets me and most importantly, the tough situation I am in. I guess what makes our relationship work was the fact that my girlfriend understood the sacrifices I had to make to reach my goals. She knew that once I entered law school we would eventually talk and see each other less, but she never fails to remind me that she’ll be there every step of the way. It’s definitely hard, but it gets easier when you’re with the right person.
4. In your honest opinion, what do you think led you to this point of having to pursue your dream in a different school, or pursuing a dream altogether?
Daniel: This is very cliché, but it just wasn’t for me.
TLS: Can you expound on that?
D: Well it was barrage of personal circumstances with the school that I found difficult to recover from. Law school in a nutshell is an endless supply of stress that never felt necessary. Besides from my friends, I hated almost every second of my day, and it eventually came to a point that I started associating the campus with sadness and anxiety. I can’t even begin to count how many times I felt my mood drop every morning, knowing I’d have to do this over again. It’s not really a knock on the study itself, because the cases and laws that you read are really interesting, but it was more of the idea that not only was I suffering constantly, I found myself going back to the fact that It was never my dream in the first place.
TLS: I think it’s common for a number of students in law school to be in here to fulfill someone else’s dream for them, and most often they either end up dropping out after their first year or becoming someone they’re not just to survive.
D: Definitely. Success in all things requires a high level commitment that will only exist if you truly love what you’re doing. I strongly urge anyone who’s going to read this that in any career they choose to take on, make sure that you not only you find yourself loving it, but at the same time makes you the best version of yourself. Most times.
5. Law school is a place that tends to bring out the best and the worst in people; can you share times that you showed both sides of the spectrum?
Jessica: I think more than anything, law school brought out the fire in me. I was never really an achiever and dreams always seemed like generic blurs that mostly included getting a job and family. Once I had fallen in love with the law, though, a sense of purpose bloomed inside me, and eventually took me completely. Excellence became not only a standard, but also a way of life. This mindset towards success eventually led to the opposite spectrum, making me less sympathetic toward others.
Maybe it is because law school requires so much of one’s time and energy that one becomes impatient with what one perceives as unnecessary distractions towards that goal. Unfortunately, this means that people–loved ones, friends–take the sideline, or in worse cases, recipients of negative emotions. I can say that I strained relationships because of this new attitude, and not a day goes by that regret how I treated some people I care about.
TLS: Do you think being successful leads to certain changes like these that isn’t necessarily favorable to people around you?
J: Yes, it absolutely does.
TLS: Should we be worried that great lawyers tend to forget their humanity for the pursuit of excellence?
J: Yes. However, those who are truly exceptional will know how to distinguish between when to follow the letter of the law, and when to humanize these concepts. The law without humanity will never be justice.
6. As you head towards the bar, what’s been an unlikely inspiration that you got all the way through this point?
Harvey: This is a tough question because I don’t really try and find inspiration other than from my family who always believed in me even I constantly screwed up, my friends who there with me through the tough journey, and professors that always tried to bring out the best in me. All of these people have been with me through the toughest moments in law school, and I know will be there for the most important exam of my life.
TLS: Other than that nothing really gave you an extra drive or an unexpected sense of urgency?
H: Not really (proceeds to laugh) I don’t think I have an inspirational story for you; I don’t really have kids to support or a rags-to-riches narrative, if anything I think the only unexpected fact is that I had the drive to even be in law-school to begin with.
TLS: Can you explain?
H: Well really, one of the things that inspired me to finish law school was the realization that I never tried my best in anything before. I knew I was smart, so I got by just by natural ability alone. I knew I would survive just by exerting the bare minimum at everything. That ended up with me getting mediocre grades and never accomplishing much outside of partying and drinking. And looking back, I found more fulfillment in my last four years of law school than I ever did in undergrad or high school. I discovered different aspects of my person, and that was a good experience.
If there is any lesson from my experiences that I can share with other is that believe in yourself, but more importantly, believe further from your own expectations. One of the gravest punishments you can inflict on yourself is to waste your potential.