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The Diaries of a 1L: Matt Kane's Reflection of His First Month of Law School

Posted By Rabia Paracha, Oct 9, 2011

Sometimes, I pop on the Ipod, grab my Rollerblades, and Skate Down a Trail Near My Apartment
Author: Matthew Kane (Class of 2012)
Date:  Monday, 9/14/2009

I have now been at King Hall for a solid month; attending classes, getting used to my new life here in Davis, and taking it all in.  The traditional physical, mental, and emotional stresses of a transition were in effect for me.  I had to find myself in a new place, figure out the maps and transportation systems (I bike to and from school, it’s great), feed myself, organize my schedule, set up and get comfortable in a new apartment…etc.  Transition for me usually means making many new life decisions. 

But being a part of law school comes with its own set of decisions and acclimations.  I have tried to start adapting to the nature of the law school curriculum, the material I study (analyzing cases and case briefing), and the way I think in general, and how I can think more like a lawyer handling a client.  That is to say, I am learning how to treat law school as the start of a profession, unlike my small liberal arts college, which was more exploratory and comprehensive in nature, and less focused on prospects for a future career.  In all of this, I try to remember why I came to law school (I wanted to come for 9 years!), and what social, political, and economic policies I developed before I showed up. 

There are ways that I have adapted to that challenge, of getting used to a new form of learning and a new way to think, while still retaining and adhering to my beliefs, goals, and principles, those which I developed throughout the course of my life.  To overcome this challenge, I find myself thinking about the policy issues surrounding the cases I read.  I also am trying to put my goals into practice, and trying to get involved in some activities and clubs on campus that help me to actualize my various goals.  I was recently appointed treasurer of the ACLU, and will be helping with activities of the Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA), the Journal of International Law and Policy (JILP), and the International Law Society (ILS), and I am beat-boxing and singing with Law Capella, the a cappella group here at King Hall.

I’ve also been trying to find time to relax, have fun, process things, be social, and fulfill other common human duties and desires.  I took a trip down to Reno with some friends I have made in my class.  I went on a fun float trip on rafts down a river with 1-L, 2-L, and 3-L students.  I also intend to play some softball with a 1-L team (should be so much fun).  Sometimes, I pop on the Ipod, grab my rollerblades, and skate down a trail near my apartment with a nature preserve nearby, and take a moment to appreciate the change and my new home.  Sometimes I play video games or watch sports games on TV, or check out the amazing farmers market in town.  I’m trying to find some time for myself, which I think is really important, and to put my energy (and sometimes, my short- and long-term goals) into practice, which makes it all the more fun and manageable.

As the Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year) and Yom Kippur (day of atonement) rapidly approach, I called my relatives today to wish them a “happy and healthy new year.”  With all the craziness, adjustment and the like, here in this first month, I felt so bogged down by numerous physical changes, thoughts and feelings that needed to be reconciled.  Lo and behold, my relatives provided me with sage advice.  So inspired I was from my relatives, who forced me to look at the larger picture and remember my aforementioned beliefs, goals, and principles, that I wrote down excerpts from our conversations.

My maternal grandmother was taking a ride with her husband, and told me that she was “getting a ride from my boyfriend and taking me out to dinner.”  She then advised me to “get out and live life.”  She is in her eighties and they have been married for many, many years.

My paternal grandmother said the following throughout the course of our conversation:

  • “If you should know one thing, you should be happy and healthy; it’s the most important.”
  • “Balance what you do and the way you think about what you do.”
  • “You are still young—and there is a difference between one smart man and another smart man, and that is making the right choices.” 
  • “Someone says that if you laugh a lot, you gain 7 years of your life”
  • “Don’t worry about the girls—there are lots of fish in the water.” 

My great Aunt spoke to me about independence and said, “Hey kiddo.  You gotta make the most out of your life.  And make sure to stay in good health, it’s very important.” 

My dad was reading a book in the sunshine.  He told me that I should “spend less time chasing happiness, and more time finding happiness in what you already have and do.”  He said that luxuries are not as important as this discovery of happiness, and “everything is just a thing.”  He left me with, “Matta, it’s important to balance learning and fun.” 

Finally, I spoke with my older brother David.  He told me, “You know, if you make the effort, you can get what you want out of life.”  Most things for him are a matter of business, but nevertheless, the principle applies.  He ended saying that it’s just in our family’s blood to be an overachiever, and sometimes you have to sit back and do what you’re good at.

I guess I have a lot to think about….