Jan 21, 2011

Thoughts on Drudgery for Law Students

Lately I've been thinking about the challenges that law students face in the drudgery of the daily grind: cite checking, footnotes, legal writing projects. Or maybe it's the 50 pages of Contracts reading tonight. Or a boring prof. Whatever it is, at some point in law school, we're struck by the sheer minutia and drudgery of much of what we do every day in law school.

What should our response be when we hit that wall?

I want to suggest that "the grind" is a part of ordinary life, and that life is nothing if not ordinary. Daily. Life isn't life without the daily grind. It would be a retreat or a circus or a vacation or a spa if everyday were an exciting mountaintop experience. When every professor is Robin Williams, just wait a minute and you'll wake up from your dream. Like most jobs, law practice--even the highest powered litigation work or the most high profile corporate gig-- is made up of tedious detail work. Law school is a great time to embrace drudgery and explore ways that God infuses it-- and the other aspects of life to which he has called you-- with meaning. Here's Oswald Chambers:

"Drudgery is one of the finest touchstones of character there is. . . . It requires the inspiration of God to go through drudgery with the light of God upon it. . . . When the Lord does a thing through us, he always transfigures it."

My suggestions for law students:

1. Use drudgery as a tool to train yourself against the vices of procrastination, idleness, and dodging.

2. Justify mundane tasks in light of their bigger purpose. Meditate on the higher purposes of the most mundane of tasks.

3. Consider whether you are chafing against work that will be more commonplace after you've graduated (think research and writing, document review, drafting), and decide how you should alter or shape your career plans in this light. In other words, do you think you will hate your job, or relish the challenge? What can you do NOW to be prepared to embrace the daily grind?

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