Ahhhh…..….sniff, sniff…….…the wonderful aroma of THE law school elixir. That magical potion – that dark concoction that helps keep law students awake during the year. As you walk the halls of TU College of Law, you will see many students with cups of this steaming drink in their hands as they head to class – especially early classes. Yep…..I am talking COFFEE!!!!
We all need a boost from time-to-time as we take on the daily challenges and workload as law students. It is important to make sure you keep a healthy body along with a balanced social and family life. Law school and all its activities may eventually drain you if you are not proactive in scheduling your time. It is important to take care of yourself, spend time with your family, work on your spiritual side, and enjoy your friends. It is important to remember WHY you wanted to attend law school.
Statistics show that law students who become overwhelmed during law school sometimes turn to drugs or alcohol to relax or relieve tension. Why? The American Bar Association says some reasons are because of stress, excessive workloads and intense competition. In an ABA article titled Addicted Lawyers Start as Addicted Law Students, by Meghan Vivo, JD, some additional reasons are:
- Relying on academic success to build self-worth;
- An emphasis on image, status, affluence and impressing others, which leads to sacrifice of positive values and subsequent loss of self-esteem and personal satisfaction;
- The type of individual attracted to the legal profession – often overachievers or perfectionists; and
- Training to ignore emotional and personal reactions and represent positions that are in opposition to their own opinions and beliefs.
In the same article, the Hon. Robert L. Childers, a judge in the Circuit Court of Tennessee and who serves on the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP), agrees. After working with many lawyers with substance abuse issues and mental illness issues, his work shows such issues begin in law school. He believes many attorneys have bent the rules to keep important clients or to “win at all costs” therefore, compromising their ethical principles. Even law students try to take short-cuts on class preparations or skip homework assignments thinking they can make up for it at the end of the semester. However these actions for attorneys and law students build up guilt, powerlessness, feelings of failure, and shame. So law students and lawyers try to bury these feelings and pressures through drugs or alcohol.
As new law students, make a point to ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed during your time in school. Do not place your self-worth on your academic performance, your GPA, or your class ranking. I know it’s hard not too; but, law school only lasts for 3 years. You, however, have many long years of successful living ahead of you! When you feel tempted to medicate with alcohol, grab THE Law School Elixir instead or contact a TU Law counselor. Reach out to the Admissions staff or a professor with whom you feel comfortable. Let others know you are struggling. At TU Law, you will be accepted and find how wonderful it is to have someone on your side who understands where you are coming from.
So, remember….during law school….do not place your value on academics or image. Stay strong in your personal convictions and beliefs while you accept and connect with others from differing viewpoints. And most of all – – – GRAB A CUP OF JOE!