Elizabeth Tolon

Creating Balance through Routine

As I go through my final semester of law school, I reflect on what I’ve learned since starting two and a half years ago.  For me, law school has been challenging, invigorating, fun, and full of surprises.  When I walked into class on my first day of law school, I had no idea what to expect.  I had no idea what textualism meant or how the Rules of Civil Procedure influence litigation.  I didn’t know what the Socratic method was and I didn’t understand the curve.  After my first day of classes, I felt a little like Elle Woods after she got kicked out of class by Professor Stromwell in Legally Blonde. I didn’t really know what was going on and I wasn’t sure I made the right choice.

However, I soon began to understand what worked for me and what didn’t.  I learned the following things about myself during my first year:

  1. I only exercise in the morning. 
  2. I don’t work well at home. 
  3. I study best individually. 

These are key elements to my success and became foundational pieces of my routine.  During my first year, I routinely exercised in the morning.  I usually arrived at school at 9 AM and was studying or in class until 6 PM.  When I left school, I took no work with me and went home to play with my dog and relax.  This routine worked for me.  I altered my schedule slightly during finals, but this routine was my skeletal system for my first year. I learned (through trial and error—no pun intended) that if I built my routine around these self-identified truths, I would be successful and content with my work.

Ultimately, the routine paid off, and first-year results were positive.  However, it wasn’t always easy.  On top of everything else happening in law school, it can be hard to force myself to get up and go to the gym when all I want to do is throw my alarm clock across the room.  Creating healthy routines requires discipline. But discipline is a necessary trait for attorneys.  We have to be disciplined in our writing, editing, reading, researching, and general approach to the law. 

It takes discipline to push through mental fog and continue writing a memorandum.  It takes discipline to review thousands of documents and determine which ones are necessary for your case.  It takes discipline to rewrite the twenty-five-page single-spaced brief after a senior associate said that it wasn’t good enough.  The law demands self-discipline, and law school is the ideal place to cultivate it.  By forcing myself to adhere to these healthy routines, I am a better law student and hopefully, will be a better attorney. 

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