I get by with a little help from my friends

KU Law students with Professor Bill Westerbeke
From left: Law students Jennifer Hackman, Professor Bill Westerbeke, Joni Bodnar, Ashlyn Lindskog, Andrea Horvath and Suzanne Hale.

I began a little routine during my last semester of my 3L year at KU Law. It starts with dragging myself out of bed and giving myself a pep talk as I blankly stare into my closet for 10 minutes.

“OK, Ashlyn. You can do this. You can be a person today. You’re almost done. Who cares what anyone says … leggings are absolutely pants.”

The necessity of this routine probably stems from a number of different places. First, I really hate putting on pants. Second, the law school grind seems so familiar and “old hat” that it requires an extra dose of motivation at this point. “3L-itis” is a very real thing, and coming out the other side of a three-year long panic attack offers some perspective. It will all get done because it always does. Having a clearer picture of what you’re capable of keeps the panic at bay, and you’re left bouncing between elation at the prospect of getting your life back and the terror of launching a professional career and assuming the adult responsibilities that come with it.

Law school is temporary. It doesn’t last forever. This is both good and bad. Good, because law school is tough and exhausting. Bad, because as the memories of pure panic fade and those moments you shared with your peers come front and center, the last thing you want to do is give them up. It may be fair to analogize law school to childbirth: The mind blacks out all the painful parts so that when it is all over the whole experience feels more meaningful than exhausting.

KU Law students with Professor Bill Westerbeke
From left: Bri Hanschu, Alison McCourt, Jennifer Hackman, Lauren Bavitz, Ashlyn Lindskog, Suzanne Hale and Andrea Horvath.

I don’t know the science of it all, but what I do know is that I don’t remember the mechanics of surviving as clearly as I remember studying for 1L finals with a group of my friends and laughing hysterically at how unprepared we all felt. I remember having whiteboard races to see who could get the information out the fastest and yelling at each other while we competed. I remember taking over a classroom during 2L finals and bringing snacks and a space heater and trying to teach each other legal concepts. I remember hosting baby showers and engagement parties and finding any excuse to celebrate. I remember golfing with my professor and dancing at the various law school events. And I remember how reassuring it felt to be surrounded by people who not only understood my daily struggle, but truly wanted to see me succeed. The kind of people who share in your little victories as if they were their own and refuse to allow you drop of out law school because you don’t have any clean clothes.

The best advice I can offer is to be aware from the beginning how special the relationships you form in Green Hall are. Take the time to build relationships and nurture them throughout your time as a law student. If you do that, many of your peers will turn into friends and confidants and the kind of people you’d wake up for at 4:00 in the morning to analyze a conversation from the night before. KU Law offers you this incredible opportunity to not only create professional relationships that will last throughout your career, but to leave with lifelong friends who will support you even after you’re all gone. The type of friends who will confidently refer clients to you in one breath and question your competency as an adult in another.

Those are the moments you want to take with you when you leave Green Hall, and it is my sincere hope that when you’re a 3L giving yourself a pep talk to get through the last 83 days, you are reminded of how lucky and grateful you are for the opportunity to share this experience with some of the most brilliant, loyal, supportive, encouraging and inspiring peers. It will all get done and you will eventually be an attorney, but for what my opinion is worth, it’s better to be an attorney with really awesome friends and really awesome stories.

Ashlyn Lindskog is a third-year law student and KU Law student ambassador from El Dorado, Kansas.

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