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Dear Ms. Demeanor: Not to put too fine a point on it, but as spring semester rolls toward finals, I find myself in the grips of existential despair. My performance on my fall exams was less than encouraging. I don’t have a legal job lined up for the summer. My girlfriend has left me. Even my dog seems disappointed when I enter the room. How can I pull myself together and prove to myself and the world that there is a purpose in all of this? – Hazy, Crazy First-Year Law Student Dear Crazy: Ms. Demeanor wishes to reassure you that this is no existential dilemma — you merely have a case of spring semester blues. Many of your peers are similarly afflicted despite the tendency to collective denial. While this condition has all the charm of a head cold, it can be warded away with a few simple remedial measures. You have begun to realize that your legal education is a game of chance and you have been dealt a hand of deuces. Let’s not panic, however. We may not be able to beat the house, but I do believe we can regroup. Here is Ms. D’s advice. As for your worries about final exams, Ms. Demeanor understands all too well that the posting of fall grades is a day of reckoning in the lives of many, if not most, law students. College accustomed you to high achievement and now you understand what the other three quarters of your rhetoric class were thinking as the professor dogged his way through the seating chart to find someone — anyone? — who knew the answer. Few of them found the experience to engender a love of learning. You must try not to obsess about your fall semester performance. Instead, obsess about your spring semester performance. Take this simple step. Assemble a group of companions who are obligated to you in some enormous way (the dog, for one, comes to mind). Invite these friends to a soiree at your home, ply them with wine, saltines, and a cheese roll, and proceed to facilitate the conversation by carrying on hysterically about the horrors and injustice of law school and the imminent doom you anticipate on the next set of exams. This will guarantee that your future study efforts are uninterrupted by telephone calls from buddies who want to catch a film or go out for a pitcher. In fact, if you carry on long enough, you will effortlessly persuade all your friends to leave you alone for the next decade or two. And your guests will have enjoyed the additional benefit of consuming that cheese roll — no matter how fervent their denials. Concerning your summer job, Ms. Demeanor urges you to ignore the urban rumor that law students do best when they table the job search at this point in the spring semester and concentrate on their academic performance. If you spend hours worrying about your employment status, you will save yourself from the tedium of actually sitting down and reading the law necessary to earn grades that impress employers. Never mind that many law firms wait to hire student associates until May or June when they are able to calculate their summer workload more accurately. Ms. Demeanor knows about these things, my dear, and she urges you to abandon common sense and worry this situation to the fullest. The departure of your girlfriend, while somewhat outside Ms. Demeanor’s immediate jurisdiction, is nevertheless ripe for comment. What, you may ask yourself, hastened her departure? Were you perhaps a bit excessive in your need to “share” your law school experience? Ms. Demeanor must caution you that she deplores the notion of “sharing,” which she generally finds to be a misnomer for in-your-face insistence that the designated victim hear you out regardless of his or her degree of interest, if any. But that is a matter for a future column. To return to the issue at hand, did you choose the critical plot point in “Memento” to explain the rule against perpetuities to her? Did you interrupt her birthday party to ask the guests to comment on permissive joinder? Did she accuse you of begging off one too many social engagements when you told her you could not make it to your wedding because you had to study? Ms. Demeanor urges you to repent all transgressions and promise your girl that you will exercise greater restraint in the future. With sufficient reassurance, she may return, although not until you have discarded the last of that cheese roll moldering in the fridge. In closing, let us turn to the issue of the dog. Ms. D. can assure you that law school has yet to drive away man’s best friend. The dog is not skeptical; he is trying to remember the comparative elements of burglary under traditional law, modern law, and the Model Penal Code. That is what dogs do when they appear to be lying around on the couch. Your girlfriend may be chancy, but the dog is yours for life. Ms. D. hopes that she has restored some perspective to your law school experience. We can cure those blues, my dear, and I predict a wonderful, lucrative summer once you complete those pesky final exams. Trust me. Ms. Demeanor has been there, done that and, despite indicators to the contrary, is always delighted to “share.” Lois Schwartz is an adjunct professor at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and an adjunct instructor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law.

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