An Open Letter to All Law Students
Updated: Jul 24, 2021
By: Archiebald Faller Capila
So here we are, surfing the ever-vast contents of social media—perhaps trying to escape an uneventful attempt understanding the assigned readings. You could be lying in your bed right now, resting your eyes from the kilometric reading assignments you cannot finish in one sitting. You could even be sitting in front of your laptop and notes, stealing away some time from the heavy schedule you are about to encounter starting this week. You could be surfing the net just for pleasure, telling yourself that this is in fact the only day of the week that you get time to take care of yourself. Whatever situation you are in today, we understand you. You are here surfing through the complexities of the internet because you want to momentarily escape life and law school.
Law school hits different when we don’t think of the academic-related stuff that we are used to cramming all at once. In between the minutes that we think we have free time, we drift away from the responsibility of law school and imagine a world without stress and assignments. In those precious fragments of time, we feel alive. In those moments we try to escape, we feel as if we are different persons.
Don't worry. We've all been there.
Maybe this is your scheduled break time. Maybe it just so happened that a notification from your apps caught your attention. Maybe you felt the walls closing in that you needed an easy escape, hence the run for a quick surf through your feed.
Tiring, isn't it?
Not the complex structure and narratives we see in our feed, but the study of law in general. Because of the given situation, you feel like a lot has changed since you entered law school. For you, everything has been a free fall. For you, everything has gone south to the extent that you no longer know if what you are doing is right, or if what you are doing is even worth it.
It's been days since you've had a decent sleep. It's been weeks since the last time you spent some quality hours with your friends and loved ones. It's been months since you've been truly happy. It’s safe to say that it’s been years since you last felt good about yourself achieving something that you are truly proud of. It's been so long that you sometimes forget why you're pursuing law in the first place. You have been engaged in the study for so long that you have lost track of the primary purpose of why you are doing this in the first place.
Why are you studying law? For whom will you dedicate your success if and when you finish law school? What are your plans before and after taking the Bar? What line of the legal profession will you be engaged in? Why did you study law in the first place, knowing in full that it carries with it certain burdens that only a few people could carry?
These questions linger from time to time and they remain unanswered most of the time. These questions are hard because you know in yourself that you are lost. These questions remain unanswered because your mind is not exactly wired to see it as it is—you always see the possibilities of what could happen if you did not pursue law in the first place.
One thing a keen observer could notice is that while the profession we dream of is an obstacle in itself, the circumstances surrounding the same make it even harder.
Your friends are getting married. Your former colleagues are being promoted. Your relatives are travelling the world. Your former classmates are becoming known in their chosen fields. These people who did not pursue law are having the time of their lives. They are exceeding expectations and eventually becoming the persons they want to be. They are living their lives on their own terms and are enjoying it to the fullest. Aside from success, they have achieved happiness. Aside from greatness, they have achieved peace of mind. They are the personification of “getting what you want and how you want it”.
In addition, you are always asked how's law school. You are always asked when you'll march and graduate. You are always asked when you'll take the Bar. You are always asked when you'll become a lawyer. These people are always curious about what career is in store for you, considering that you have spent a lot of years studying and preparing for the practice of law. They are interested in where your life is headed because of all the sacrifices you have made and all the things you have done just to be in the position you are in today.
So a string of uncertain answers rolls around your mouth. You don't know what to say and how to say it. You'll just give them a stiff smile and hope they ask a different question not related to your studies. You feel incomplete and insecure. You think that you cannot answer them directly because of the several obstacles law school has to offer. You doubt your inner self and think of ways on how to distract your friends and families so that they won’t continue asking the same questions over and over again.
And believe me when I say that it keeps getting worse.
One night, you will be asking yourself what went wrong. You will question your methods. You will compare yourself to those who you think are doing good. You will doubt yourself. You will eventually break. You will feel inadequate. You will start to wonder whether or not the study of law is for you. You will think of the endless possibilities which lead to a fruitful road where you did not study law and pursued a different career path instead.
We all do.
Then again, we find ourselves standing up after crying. We compose ourselves in silence and take a break we feel we deserve. We distract ourselves from the mad thoughts that bend us and laugh at a law meme or two. We remind ourselves that what we feel is valid and that we are just overthinking the things we cannot control. We accept the fact that these are just wishful thinking and that we are eventually headed towards a future that we want—a future that sees us as lawyers with integrity who uphold the honor and glory of the profession.
And then we continue studying. Why? Because it's in our nature. The body may break, the mind may collapse, but the spirit must remain strong and convincing.
We are warriors who do not yield to pressure. We may break from time to time but we continue to gather ourselves and remain afloat. We continue to be the persons we are destined to be. We fight to the end of the day and hope that all things will lead to a fruitful road. The path to becoming a lawyer will always be hard, but it is a path worth taking nonetheless.
All of us are in the same hell, fighting the same demons. First-year students are struggling to grasp an all-encompassing idea of what substantial laws provide. Second-year students are trying to juggle a multitude of units, trying to cope with a now subject-heavy school year. Third-year students are trying not to get lost on the procedure and the remedies provided for therein. Fourth-year students are keeping up with what is seemingly law school on steroids. Bar candidates are trying to remind themselves of the kilometric readings and hope that they retain certain clips of memories.
Nevertheless, all are fighting to stay alive—all are trying to surpass the rigid and tedious process to become graduates of Juris Doctor and eventually become members of the Bar.
While our narrative presents with it more problems than solutions, we continue to find ways to remain afloat. We look for people who can truly understand us. We talk to them and learn several lessons of determination and hard work. We continue to listen to those we love the most so as to give us strength and wisdom to continue fighting a good fight. We follow social media pages that give us inspiration. We share idiotic memes once in a while. We treat ourselves with Korean barbeque or a simple cup of ice cream. We sing a song in celebration of another day for the books—damaging but full of lessons learned.
At the end of the day, we eventually become stronger than the person who we think and believe we are. At the end of the day, while we may have doubted ourselves, we never give up and continue to become better.
But it doesn't stop there. We still have kilometric codal provisions to memorize. We still have complex cases to understand. We still have annotations and commentaries to comprehend.
Go on, kid. Break time is over. We better get going.
We still have a degree to pursue. We still have a career to achieve.
Good luck and stay slaying, future paneros and paneras. May this letter be a reminder that whatever you do, you are doing it right. We are here to support you all the way. May this break in your hectic schedule remind you that your will to become great is your greatest asset.
Keep the faith and carry on!