Advice for law students: Enjoy your University

A few weeks ago, I returned to my beloved University of Michigan, for a law school class reunion. This time, I stayed an extra day, in order to speak to law students at a lunchtime event on Monday, organized by the U of M Federalist Society. Michigan Prof. Richard Primus provided some thoughtful commentary on my presentation, and the FedSoc organization was outstanding. Anyway, the extra 36 hours on campus was a great opportunity to walk many miles revisiting the immense Michigan campus, the U of M’s beautiful Arboretum, and Ann Arbor.

The campus visit reminded me of how much of the education I received at the University of Michigan took place outside the Law Quad–even though the quantity and quality of education received inside the Quad were excellent. My start as a journalist during law school was writing theater reviews, and then op-eds for the Michigan Daily.  Unlike some Daily alumni, I’ve never won a Pulitzer Prize, but like all Daily writers, I benefited from the opportunity to work for a solid daily newspaper with a circulation of 18,000.

Other law school friends who got outside the Law Quad also had great experiences. One friend played interscholastic rugby. My 1L roommate found a small church in Ann Arbor, which at the time was holding services in a room at the YMCA. My roommate was a very studious fellow, even by law school standards, but the church drew him towards something more important. After serving as a JAG officer in the Air Force, he became an ordained minister.

Even if the university beyond the law school doesn’t help you discern a vocation or avocation, you’ll still find lots of theater, music, museums (including mini-exhibits in classroom buildings), guest lectures on topics other than law, and so on. Not to mention intramural and spectator sports.

Not every law school enjoys the good fortune of being located on a flagship research university campus with 41,000 students. But if your law school does share a campus with a university, it’s almost certain that there’s something there for you to enjoy. The law school experience can be all-consuming, especially during the first year. If you take the time to explore your university, you’ll give yourself a helpful mental change of pace, and have some fun. And as the Grateful Dead put it in Box of Rain, “Maybe you’ll find direction around some corner where it’s been waiting to meet you.”

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