Thursday, July 13, 2006

My reputation is your entertainment

I remember high school. I remember the cliques, the gossip, the parties, the teachers, and the mindless crap that we were forced to do just to get out the door with a piece of pretty paper. Law school is no different, except that we all have apartments and are of legal drinking age.

It’s usually at the first year orientation that you are going to meet roughly the 100 people who you will all get to know very well over the next nine months. You will see these same people everyday, for an extended period of time, engaging in a stressfree challenging area of study. You will know them all either personally or by reputation very soon.

The following are things that I heard first year in some form:
“Sheila slept with Peter in the bathroom and ended up going back to Greg’s place but didn’t tell her boyfriend Rich”
“Frank got bombed and made out with that one girl from Section C, but ended up going home with Eric”
“What year are you?”
“I’m a Freshman [in undergrad]
“Really? I’m a first year too!”
You are going to know everyone’s business. Knowing shit on people can be very entertaining and Lord knows that I would not have as much blog material to post about if people (myself included) didn’t know what was happening. The advice here is that age old maxim: discretion is the better part of valor. Reputations tend to stick pretty solidly once they have been formed, so this piece is an attempt to let you know that your actions (and even your inactions) can follow you around for a while.

Case in point: Me.

I am a very competitive guy and I play a wide array of intramural sports at the University that I attend. I was on a dominant co-ed team (we went undefeated and won the final 72-0). Anyway, there are other law school teams in the league. On the field, I had one incident where (and I don’t remember this, but it has been relayed to me from several witnesses) taunted an opposing team’s player. I didn’t think anything of it, but, three days later this entire section (not mine) was aghast about the guy wearing the mouthguard and how he had the balls to taunt one of their fellow section members. I was forwarded several group IM chats that occurred shortly after this occurrence. Let’s just say that my name was dragged through the mud and I was treated like that white substance that forms at the corners of your mouth when you are thirsty.

This entire section, not even my own, knew who I was, had an opinion formed about me, and frankly, most, did not want to give me the time of day.

You will soon be seeing the same people everyday for extended periods of time. My advice is to do as I say, not as I did. Think before acting, be discreet, and don’t promulgate the gossip (too much).

4 comments:

Calculating Bitch said...

It's amazing, too, the things that law students elevate to a matter of importance. You could find yourself being a pariah for something that seemed rather insignificant.

After our first round of midterms, the registrar sent all of the grades via email to every one of the 1Ls. It was all by exam number, but nonetheless we had access to see the spread of grades within the class. Being anal retentive, a bit OCD, and an accountant, it was simply reflex for me to throw all of the grades into a spreadsheet and start analyzing them in order to give me some perspective as to where I was at. Well, people caught wind of the fact that I was analyzing grades and apparently that meant that I was a calculating, competitive bitch who wouldn’t hesitate to stab you in the back. (Side note: be careful what you are doing on your computer during class because if the people sitting behind you aren’t playing their own game of online poker, then they’re probably watching what you do).

I won’t deny that I’m competitive – all of us got to law school because we’ve been competitive one way or another our entire lives. However, my playing around in Excel was deemed important enough to go to the dean about (mind you it turns out that several others also created spreadsheets).

Point is, doesn’t matter if you are doing something for your own use or entertainment. People will make it their business, and, as a result – like Namby and myself – you could end up with a stigma that you didn’t intend, simply because of doing something that is second nature to you.

dicta said...

all very true. you know all the people in high school who loved to gossip and be all in other peoples' shit? well, law school is almost exclusively these people. not totally, but mostly. it's a whole different world.

i'm from the north, and i did my first year at a school in the south. i only knew of 1 other person in my year who was from somewhere north of virginia. i was known as the "yankee boy" for a long time. i still am there, but now it's a more friendly term and less stigmatic.

LawMommy said...

I think this is some ofthe most important advice you could have dispensed

the littlest tortfeasor said...

Change the names in all of those quotes and I can attribute them to 3Ls I know. Maybe schools really aren't so different from each other!