The Briefcase Diaries

An Open Letter to My Fellow 0Ls

Dear fellow 0L:

I’m writing from my new pad in Central New York, where I’ve just moved to begin law school in only a handful of days. Many of my belongings are still trapped in totes, or crammed into the space made available for me by my two roommates prior to my arrival. The third-floor walkup was definitely not what I was expecting—particularly the absence of air conditioning. Nonetheless, this is my new home and I’m excited to be here. Well, to be quite honest, my excitement is really more of a combination of anxiousness, impatience, nostalgia, loneliness, pride, and even a small amount of fear.

Any future student who has discussed law school with someone who has been through the experience knows that attorneys have stories. They have stories about their own good, bad, and ugly experiences of law school—in spades. And if you’ve talked to multiple attorneys about law school, you’ve probably found that every experience is different. Many even seem to contradict one another.

I’ve spent hours contemplating what law school will bring, concluding that I have absolutely no idea. Yes, I know what classes I’ll be taking. Sure, I have a freshly published agenda of orientation activities. Of course, I know that I will, undoubtedly, make friends. But nothing seems to be greater than the uncertainty. All the while, I feel as though I’m in a sort of professional limbo—unable to move forward as quickly as I would like, and still wistful for the familiarity of the family, friends, and city I feel as though I’ve left behind.

I wish that life were like a movie. I would skip to the end of my first semester, check my grades, and delight in the certainty. Then I would happily rewind, sit back, and enjoy each scene as it came. However, life is most definitely not a movie. We aren’t able to just fast forward to the end of the semester and instantly calm our anxieties. We are made to wait.

The fear of uncertainty, along with the looming inability to act, have fueled numerous intense, yet fleeting, emotional whirlwinds. And I can only imagine that there are other 0L students out there who feel similarly. While, at times, I wish I had a fast forward button for everyone, I am grateful that I don’t. Truthfully, we aren’t just waiting. We are, right now, setting the scene for the finale.

If we all had a fast forward button, that would be it. We wouldn’t be able to change the outcome, but merely anticipate it. The joy in all of this uncertainty is that life, including our first semester grades, isn’t scripted. We truly don’t have the capacity to know what our experiences will be until we’re living them.

I’m confident that none of us found our way to law school by mistake. The fact that we were admitted is a testament of our potential for success. No one is accepted to law school without the confidence of multiple people throughout the process—all of whom have found value in our passions, our life experiences, our intellectual abilities, and our motivations. Keeping this in the back (and sometimes front) of my mind has helped me cope with uncertainty and I hope that my fellow 0Lers are also able to find solace in this. Of course, we all want our own movie to win an Oscar. But more than that, we should appreciate each scene as it comes. After all, each of us only has a certain amount of screen time.

Yours truly,

Chanan