It’s Valentine’s Day, so this post is for all those law students looking for love. The first thing I realise is how *awkward* it is when a law student tries to pick up, or worse still when some poor, oblivious soul makes the mistake of hitting on a law student…
So How Does It Usually Go Down?
The first instinct in this situation is to duck and cover, then scamper to find someone without an odd complex about stationery (who, amongst law students, is usually the bartender.) This is not generally considered socially acceptable, so you fight your primary urges and remain. Your gut reaction becomes stronger, and triggers a vague but omnipresent malaise associated with repressed memories.
Your conversation partner (who is somewhat cute in that disheveled, nerdy way) takes no notice. They are busy recounting every single part of their clerkship application process, or debating whether an 81 average can reasonably be considered a “high level distinction.” Panic sets in, alongside feelings of inadequacy. It grips your vocal chords as you wonder what a “high level distinction” even means. Are you too dumb to know what that means? Spilled drinks and more panic. Garbled excuses, cue laugh track and exeunt. Did you get their number? Mate, you’re lucky to keep your life.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Lets examine the problem, and a few techniques which can be used to make picking up a law student a less emotionally-traumatic experience.
These people are good, interesting people on the inside, but they are caught within a vicious cognitive loop which functions as an autopilot for social interactions. Insecurity leads to a desperate desire to prove themselves, which in turn causes them to qualify and evaluate their achievements, which in turn causes insecurity and repeat ad nauseum. When you have two such people talking to each other and feeding off each other’s cognitive loops, you get hilariously awkward-drama.
So how can you be different? You do want to be different, of course. When was the last time you thought that all you ever wanted in another person was someone exactly like you, only better and more arrogant about it? So yes, you want to be different and break out of that self-destructive law student state of mind.
So why talk about law, careers, or any of that at all? The law student has developed an inherent distaste for that conversation, and immediately closes up when the subject is mentioned. They retreat into their autopilot of one-upping, silent judgment and comparison, and being generally disingenuous: “Oh wow, that’s so exciting for you! What an opportunity…”
By way of analogy, consider Texas Hold’em poker. Talking to law students exclusively about the law is like only using the flop to form a trick. Branch out, and play things from your hand as well. What’s more, this should encourage your interlocutor to venture into their hand too, and soon you will be conversing like normal, well-adjusted people.
Oh, and if neither of you have anything to say except for things about law, then you are boringand none of this will help.
The Trojan Horse
At some point, however, talking about law is inevitable. However, there are ways to do this which are more or less conducive to your success. When law students talk about law, the conversation usually works out like this;
Taylor: I say, did you catch last night’s scintillating discussion on ABC Radio’s Law Report, presented by Damien Carrick at 5.30pm every Tuesday, which I listen to every week in a pseudo-religious fervor?
Jordan: Normally, I too would tune in to ABC Radio’s “Law Report” as that program truly completes me. However, I found myself working late on legal research at the Big Glass Tower Law Firm who sponsors this lecture hall. You may have heard of them?
Casey: Oh, that’s so Kirby!
It’s 2012 guys, stop doing this. Aside from being incredibly obnoxious, you will never pick up.
Instead, lead with charming tales about how you are less than perfect at being a student. You don’t want to inspire contempt by appearing lazy or incapable; give the impression that your success is due to reading, collaboration and luck, not feeding into the ridiculous perfect-law-student stereotype. Put them at ease so that they can offer some of their vulnerabilities too, and have a laugh at the insane world you are being catapulted into together.
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