Some future lawyers specifically view law school as a place not to make friends.
After all, your classmates will compete with you first for scholarships, then job opportunities, and even clients down the road. But your law school classmates are also going through three of life’s most stressful years right along with you. Having friends who know exactly what you’re going through is particularly helpful during such a demanding time. Plus, your friends from law school will help make up an invaluable professional network down the road.
For your own well-being and for a more positive overall experience, it’s good to make—and keep—law school friends. Here’s how.
Be Friendly to Everyone
Chances are, you’ll make a few close friends early on in law school. Some of them might become friends for life, but law school cliques are notoriously fluid—someone you spent a lot of time with during the first few months of school may fade into the background later on, and vice versa. For all you know, a guy you were friendly with in Torts but never spent much time with may join the same firm as you after graduating and go on to become a good friend and ally. For those reasons, it’s best to be kind and friendly to everyone from day one. You never know who may grow into a great friend and vital member of your network.
Make Friends with whom You Have More in Common than Just Law School
Everyone in your year at law school has at least that one, big thing in common. And while collectively going through that experience can be enough to foster friendships, it might not be enough to sustain friendships once you’ve graduated. The best friends you can find in law school are those with whom you have more in common than just the area of law in which you hope to practice or finding the same classes boring and difficult. Maybe you share hobbies, are from the same hometown, or share the same volunteering interests—whatever you do have in common, the further it is from law school-related, the better.
Keep Friends and Study Groups Separate
Once you’ve made some friends in law school, try to keep your closest friends separate from your study groups. This will benefit you in a number of ways, not the least of which is helping your group to stay focused and not veer off into friendly conversation. It’s not unheard of for conflict to arise between friends in study groups when things don’t go well, something you’ll surely wish to avoid. In addition, keeping friends and studies separate to some extent will also aid in limiting that sense of competition that, let’s face it, sort of rules over everything during law school.
It will be good for you to spend time with your friends that doesn’t involve talking about classes or professors or grades or worries about school. Your real friends are those you have a drink with, invite to your house, and who you regularly talk to about things not at all connected to law school.
Forge Low-Stress Friendships
You know what’s really stressful? Law school. You know what else is really stressful? High maintenance friends who don’t handle stress well. Your best bets for enduring friendship in law school are the people who can handle the demands that will be placed on them, as well as the competition and pressure to succeed. Stress, as it turns out, is contagious. And while you’ll undoubtedly experience a high level of stress as you work toward your J.D., you’ll find that spending time with those who can keep themselves in check will benefit you both.