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A Day in the Life of a Law Student

Hi, I’m Stepheny De Silva! I’m a 2L from Damascus, Maryland. After spending my college years learning about medieval literature in Iowa, I worked as a legal assistant at in Washington D.C. before starting law school. During my 1L summer, I worked at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, where I will be returning for my 2L summer. At Temple Law, I’m the co-president of Temple’s National Lawyers Guild chapter and social co-chair of the Philadelphia Legal Network.

6:45AM: First alarm on my phone goes off. Contemplate getting out of bed and getting ready. Sit in bed and check the news (via theSkimm and Facebook) instead.

7:00AM: Actual alarm clock starts to ring. I turn it off and continue reading.

7:03AM: Get annoyed at the news (did the President really say that on Twitter?) and actually get out of bed and start getting ready. I turn on the Politically Reactive podcast hosted by W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu, two comedians trying to make sense of politics in America, which I’m also trying to do. I’ve seen both live, too – including in Philly!

7:45 AM: Proudly pack my pre-packed lunch and snacks because I successfully meal-planned this week and head out the door.

8:00AM: Park at the Liacouras Garage and begin the short walk to Klein Hall.

8:03AM: Contemplate getting a bagel and coffee from the Bagel Hut, or something else from one of the many nearby food trucks. Resist the urge and decide to go to the library to review for my 10:30 AM Evidence class with Professor Ouziel, who often gives us great stories about her time as a federal prosecutor.

8:05AM: Put lunchbox in locker (which every law student gets access to the start of the year to store our many, many heavy casebooks) and trade out my Employment Discrimination (which I used over the weekend) for my Evidence book. Balance my Evidence textbook, bookstand, and travel mug (which has tea I nearly abandoned for Bagel Hut coffee) as I head to the elevator.

8:10 AM: Meander to my favorite study cube by a big, sunny window in the library. I’m literally here so consistently that friends know to find me here if they need to talk to me. I need to find a new study cube this morning because someone is sitting in the cube right next to “mine,” and sitting next to them would feel like I’m violating an unspoken law school rule of politeness. I move to a different cube and start to drink my black tea.

8:30AM: As I’m studying, I realize I have a question about a Federal Rule of Evidence. Convince myself to raise my hand to say something in class to participate in the discussion. Even though I’m hoping to be a trial lawyer after law school, speaking up in class still makes me nervous. I try to speak a few times a week to work through my fear of public speaking. Participating in Temple’s Integrated Trial Advocacy Program is also helping me improve my public speaking skills.

8:45AM: Check my email and read the bi-weekly SBA (Student Bar Association) newsletter of events here at Temple Law. Remind myself to check in my fellow co-president my student organization, National Lawyers Guild, which has six sub-committees here at Temple and are all dedicated to putting human rights over property interests.

9:05AM: Reply to my mom’s text and tell her I will figure out when I’m going to visit her and my dad. I usually try to get out of Philly at least once a semester to see my family and friends. My mom ends up sending me back to Philly with a bunch of homemade food that I gorge on for at least a week. I start texting my college and high school friends to ask them to catch up while I’m home.

10:30AM: Class!

11:45AM: Wish I had spoken more in class, but don’t fret too long over it for too long. Next time! Make a mental plan to go to office hours to ask my question. Go back to my locker to grab my lunch and head to the microwaves on the first floor of Klein Hall to heat up meal. I should eat quickly and return to the library to study.

12:30PM: Run into some friends from my 1L section and eat with them instead. Each first year class is divided up into a section of about 60-65 students and when you’re with these people every day for the entirety of your first year, bonding and commiserating over law school is practically inevitable.

12:45 PM: Head back to the library to review for Evidence. It was my only class of the day, but we’ve hit a point in the semester where I feel like I have a lot of information to review. Instead of checking to see my cube is free, I go to a table on the 5th floor and find that some other 2L friends are already there. Chat for a few minutes before getting into my work.

5:00PM: After reviewing for hours (with the occasion chat break), it’s time pack up head home. Make a plan to go for a run tonight because the weather is beautiful.

5:15PM: Make pit a pit stop on my way home – go to Rite Aid to pick up contact solution.

5:30PM: Get home and realize I picked up the wrong type of contact solution – I needed Clean Care Plus, not just regular Clean Care. Decide to go back tomorrow to get the correct bottle.

5:40PM: Stand over my stove while snacking on pita chips and hummus while cooking pasta and decidedly not going on a run.

6:00PM: Sit down to eat dinner and watch some TV. I try to watch happier shows during the school year (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Place), but I love a good drama or procedural (Big Little Lies, Elementary). Decide to catch up on Outlander.

8:00PM: Oops, I was only going to watch one episode. Check my planner and see that I clearly overscheduled myself with how much work I could get done in one day. I prefer doing more work at school and treating home like a comfortable, relaxing space, but sometimes, like tonight, this just isn’t a possibility if I want to be prepared for class. Start reviewing my notes for my Tuesday afternoon class (Taxation) and read for my writing seminar (Innocence & Wrongful Convictions with Pennsylvania Innocence Project Executive Director and Temple alumna, Marissa Boyers Bluestine.).

9:30PM: I don’t feel like doing more homework and decide to watch some more TV.

11:30PM: Regret staying up so late. My morning class (Employment Discrimination) got cancelled, so I get to decide to sleep in until 7:30 AM tomorrow.

Overall, my schedule during my second year is fairly consistent, but everyday can vary a little. My weekends are a mix of relaxing and studying – I usually stay off campus for at least one day a week to run errands or just see my friends. Since starting law school, there have been many changes in my life: I moved to a new city and I go to school every day instead of work, but some fundamental aspects of my life have not changed. I still watch too much TV, drink excessive amounts of tea, and enjoy spending time with my friends.

I think the key to success in law school is to not change your routine. If you’ve always been a morning person, then continue being a morning person. If you do your best work after 1PM, then do that. That being said, you’ve also got to be open to the possibility of change. If you’re a lifelong serial procrastinator, law school will be harder for you than for someone else who is more organized. During my time at Temple Law, I’ve learned a lot about the positive impact of a good schedule, but a little wiggle room is sometimes necessary to keep my stress levels down, and that ability to be flexible helps me be the best law student I can be.

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