Have you ever heard the phrase, "Life isn't a popularity contest"? I'm sure you have - it's something that adults tend to tell kids and teenagers to encourage them when faced with adversity from their peers. Well, I have a newsflash for you - in the legal world, life is a popularity contest. The job you'll get will likely be based on whether or not people like you. Yes, your grades and school performance matter. But the opinions of future employers, as well as your references matter. Some of your most important references in law school are going to be your professors. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to connect with your professors. One of the best ways to connect is by meeting with them during office hours.
Most professors are required to have office hours once or twice a week, where they are available in their office to answer questions, help you with class, and give you school advice. This can be a great a resource if you need a little extra help in your classes. To be totally transparent, I don't always take advantage of my professors' office hours - I don't usually go in unless I have a reason. However, it's comforting to know that time is available if needed.
This week, I met with two of my professors on separate occasions. The first meeting was a writing conference with my writing professor. My school has several of these required conferences throughout the semester, as well as several optional ones. I take advantage of each and every one of these conferences. After all, how could I say no to getting personalized advice about legal writing? I've already had three or four of these conferences this semester, and the help I have gotten is invaluable. If your writing professor offers writing conferences, I highly recommend that you take advantage of the opportunity.
Another great thing that can come from these types of conferences is understanding why you get the grades you do. My conference this week was to go over my first graded writing assignment that was due a couple of weekends ago. I got a 'B' on this assignment - which is a fairly good grade for law school. Through the conference, I was able to understand why I missed the points that I did, why I earned points for things I did well, and got more tips for my next assignment. The best part of this conference was that when I was going over my paper with my professor, she commented on how her comments seemed inconsistent with the score she gave me - meaning that she's going to reevaluate and my grade might be increased. I never would've had the opportunity to earn back those points without a conference - so there's another reason to meet with your writing professor as much as possible!
I also had a conference with my Civil Procedure professor to go over my in-class, ungraded midterm that I took last month to evaluate my performance. When I got to my professor's office, we first had a personal conversation about how I feel law school is going, how I'm doing in my classes, etc. This was nice, just to know a professor cares about how I am doing overall. Then, when going over my midterm, my professor told me that if I performed similarly on the final, I would likely have one of the best grades in my class. This was amazing to hear, and gave me a boost of confidence that I am on the right track in the way I study.
After meeting with both of my professors, I ended the week feeling more confident about this whole law school thing. Finals time is approaching - it's about to be crunch time, and I'm getting nervous about taking my finals and getting my final grades. However, having two professors acknowledge the good work I'm doing makes me feel like maybe I've got this after all. I know what I'm doing well, what I need to work on, and how to approach finals coming up.
I highly recommend meeting with your professors as much as you can - you never know what will come out of a conference!