Law school orientation is a large part of the first-year experience. You meet your new best friends for the first time. You get to know the campus. You even have your very first law school class. One thing misunderstood about orientation, however, is that it leaves you very dis-oriented. Imagine that!
I recently spoke with several first-year law students to get their take on orientation. One student was asked if he learned everything he needed to know about the basics of law school at orientation. He responded, “Where’s the gym? I need to get my pump on.” A certain female student still had trouble knowing which way was west and which was east. The most alarming example is the student (who vehemently refused to give me his name for this story) that took three full trips on the USD tram because he was lost. These students had truly lost themselves in the law school shuffle.
This reporter found it hard to find anything that may lead to the source of this vast phenomenon. Yet, the effects are felt everywhere. One student was so excited about playing intramural softball he could not remember his name. He could only muster a weak “Hey bro, where can I turn in my roster?” I later asked him how he could have a full roster for softball on the first day of orientation and he said he was so out of it, he never asked his leadoff batter if he wanted to play, his cleanup hitter was a legally blind relative of his living in Abu Dhabi, and that he himself was scheduled to play shortstop, third base, and left field.
Another alarming case was a girl I met in the bookstore. She was so overwrought by law school she thought that buying all her first-year books would be a good idea. Since she did not know who her professors would be for the spring semester, she bought every con-law, property, and criminal law book available! I tried to follow up with her on the first day of school and got a shocking report from her classmate. Sadly, she is in the hospital because all the books she was carrying crushed her L-3 and L-4 vertebrae. When this reporter was told that this injury was a medical impossibility, he responded that this is a fake news article. When told that this injury could in fact happen, contrary to what he had been told earlier, he responded that a 1L wrote that part of the article. This reporter blamed it on disorientation.
The disorientation of the new 1Ls certainly should not be exploited for personal gain, of course. That does not mean there have not been any attempts, though. I recently witnessed a rather unscrupulous 2L take a 1L to the ATM and offer to use it for them. Fortunately, a brave newspaper reporter was there to put a stop to it. Another student tried to sell a 1L “locker insurance.” He told her this “insurance” covered theft, fire, earthquake, and flood up to $100. Luckily, I stepped in and told the 1L that the each book will cost her $500+ at the bookstore and that this student’s insurance would not even cover a significant part of one book. As it turned out, I was able to sell her my locker insurance for a monthly premium of only $250. If any other disoriented 1Ls would like to purchase locker insurance, please contact Motions for details.
As the 1L kids at USD Law ease into their class schedules, they seem to be getting the hang of what it is to be a law student. Many have already learned to use OneNote to stay organized. Others know to keep a secret stash of earplugs from the library in their backpacks. Many more have navigated their ways through the winding halls of Warren Hall to find their classrooms. I, for one, am proud of the slow process of reorientation that will take place this fall semester. 1Ls out there, I salute you. Good luck and good night.