LSAT Kung Fu Blog / Week 3: Your Reputation
Week 3: Your Reputation
You start building your reputation almost literally from Day One. Not always; if you are quiet and unassuming, you may escape notice for up to a week or two. But even your silence will come to be taken as a signal of your reputation if that silence persists. And, look, there’s nothing at all wrong with being “the quiet one” (also, there’s zero chance that you’re the quiet one; you will be one of several). Just know that, no matter what you do, you will start law school in the same way you start any other human interaction—by signaling to your cohort who you are.
And that matters, like, a lot. Your incoming class will be divided—the division was made alphabetically in our case, and that’s likely to be your experience too—into smaller sections. Your section will comprise 30-50 other students (usually). These people will be your friends and your future spouses and your enemies and your employers and your employees and opposing counsel and negotiating partners. They are, in a very real way, the fabric of your practice.
Show them from the very beginning that you are honest. This is the most important, and also in many ways the very easiest. Don’t cheat. Don’t lie. That’s all. It’s not rocket science; people will tend to believe that you are honest until you give them reason to believe otherwise, and then they’ll never believe it of you again almost no matter what you do. Given what we talked about above, don’t rip the fabric of your practice by being untruthful in your first year of law school.
Whatever act of dishonesty or prevarication you might find yourself considering, it’s not worth it.
Show them that you’re cool (seriously, man. Just be cool. You can want to be Number One In Your Class without being a dick about it. And if you don’t have designs on graduating summa cum laude, then you have no reason at all to be a dick, right? Right. So be cool).
Show them that you’re thoughtful (two things here, both related to your class participation: 1. Don’t ask stupid questions. There are absolutely stupid questions! Those are questions that don’t pertain to the material, or that show you simply haven’t been listening (see the Week One post for more on that). It’s not stupid to be ignorant. I’ve never in my whole damn life felt more ignorant than I do here in Week Three. That’s OK: I didn’t come to law school because I knew the law already, dang. So ignorance is fine, but willful non-listening will make you look like a thoughtless ass. No one will like you. And 2. Don’t talk just to hear yourself speak. You know what I’m talking about, right? Here, I’ll help you out with my three simple rules for not taking just to hear the sound of your voice: When you interact in class, do so because (1) you’ve been called on by the professor; or (2) you have a question that hasn’t already been answered [sidebar real quick: I have a boundless, cat-killing type of curiosity. I have decided in my own life to ask any question that I’m curious about, so long as it pertains to the discussion at hand. So, I don’t want to drag the conversation backward, nor pull it off the topic, but I find that asking questions is a good way to get answers, and I WANT ANSWERS]; or (3) you really, actually know the answer to a question the professor posed (don’t throw out a guess!) AND you have given the rest of the class sufficient opportunity to answer and no one else answered. OK. Wow. That was an incredibly long parenthetical. Do you even remember the opening parenthesis? It’s waaaay back there).
Show them that you’re dependable. This one’s maybe the most time-consuming. You don’t get chances at dependability often and early. But keep it in mind. You don’t want to be a flake. If you say you’re going to Bar Review (drinking! At a bar. Get it? GET IT) then show up. I mean, definitely don’t go if you don’t want to, but also definitely don’t say you’ll do something and then not do it. Remember, we’re talking about your colleagues, adversaries, partners, friends, and opposition here. Put all of them on notice as soon as you can that when you say something, you follow through.
Show them that you recognize their humanity. You know what you need to do here? Say “Good morning” when you see a section-mate in the hall. That’s pretty much it. You don’t have to go around slapping backs and bestowing nicknames. Unless you want to. But do demonstrate to the people around you that you can see that they are, like you, people and that they’re worth a nod of your head or a smile or a “How’s it going?”. And I know, I do know that the only reason you don’t do those things may be that you’re shy. I get it! And again, no worries about the glad-handing and the grandstanding. Just try hard enough that your shyness isn’t taken for snobbery. Everybody around you is new and nervous too, dude! Remember that you’re in this thing together. Like life, actually.
OK, that’s it for now. I have more Contracts I reading to do.
Questions? Comments? Complaints? Post them below, or shoot me an email.
Be good to one another, for we need it now more than maybe ever,
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