Denver Bar Association
November 2000
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Tom's Adventures, Part III

by Karen Bries

Is there truth to the old wives' tales about law school?

We've all heard the story about how law school makes people more aggressive.

That's what went through Tom Finn's mind after he stopped a man from stealing a woman's wallet at Target.

Tom confronted the man and they wrestled a bit until Tom got the wallet.

"I kept thinking to myself, was it law school? Was it the cases from criminal law? I don't know if I have changed, but I am sure I have begun to look at things a little differently."

The Docket has been following Tom, the 33-year-old first-year law student at the University of Denver College of Law, to see what makes him tick and if he can take the law school punishment he has been hearing so much about.

He has noticed that since starting school, he watches the news differently. He has also started to understand how law-related things connect, like his classes on torts and on civil procedures.

"I haven't seen any of the horrors I hear about in law school, but talk to me in December," he says.

Then again, there have been a few awakenings.

"There are some days when I think I'm completely prepared for class. I've read and done my practice questions, and then I go into the class and leave completely confused."

On the days he's not prepared, he'll try to look busy writing so the professors won't call on him.

He's noticed that the students who try to answer all of the teacher's questions have kept their hands on their laps.

"There was one in every class who wanted to talk to the teacher and answer all his or her questions. That's pretty much stopped."

As for the social aspect of school, Tom isn't trying to go to any keggers.

"I'm more worried about law school than anything else."

As for the workload, Tom describes himself as a person who always thinks he could be doing more than he does.

"Sometimes I think I could sleep less than eight hours, but I know that's not good. In the grand scheme of things, law school is not life and death. If I get a C, I get a C, although I'd really like an A. I'm determined to not let law school rule my life."

Tom's outlook has something to do with his former career as an environmental engineer.

"Sometimes I can't believe I gave up taking home a paycheck to go to school again and become a lawyer," he says.

Time is more of an issue now than ever. He says he remembers having more time while working 40-50 hour weeks as an engineer than he does now as a student.

His stress might be putting him on edge.

"Am I putting the law on a pedestal? I'm internalizing stress a lot more. Part of being an engineer, and probably a lawyer, is thinking about why I do things."

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