As do other History majors who go on to law school, he credits his preparation in critical reading and writing as critically important, but he singles out another factor about life as a law student also. “Most of my law school experience I have spent reading. Reading Supreme Court opinions, reading articles about those Supreme Court opinions and other developments in the legal world, reading for a research paper, reading and re-reading my class notes, reading, reading, and more reading. Having been a history major I felt prepared for law school because that was a major requirement for all my history courses, plus other course like theology and philosophy. Being a history major trained me to handle large amounts of reading and how to best be ready for class.
“One of the most terrifying parts of law school is the use of the Socratic Method. So, to best be prepared for law school is to be prepared for class. From majoring in history, and being required to take four philosophy classes, I felt prepared to handle the large reading assignment and to be quizzed by a skilled professor in front of hundreds of my peers.”
For Thomas, one aspect of the transition from undergraduate to law school life is, as he puts it, “the sense of competition. Law school is created for you to compete with your classmates, because most of your classes are graded on a curve. Coming from a more collaborative environment like Catholic University’s History Department, where it was encouraged to share your work on your senior thesis for example, this was a rough adjustment.” Along with that, being a law student means much more of one’s time must be focused upon the law. “During my time at Catholic, I had a job (Jumpstart) that was so starkly different from my major. This allowed me to experience new things and meet new people. Having that outlet away from my main academics and a way to try new things was a great break, and very rewarding. In law school, however, academics and my jobs must blend. So, although I am continuously learning new things about the law, there is a struggle of finding different outlets to spend my time away from my academics. What I have done instead is schedule time for myself, friends, and family.”
He has two specific pieces of advice for current students considering law school for their future. First, “be aware of the world and read the news. Reading the news and being a law student go hand in hand, because as a law student you are preparing yourself to be an informed citizen. In law school, you will learn the importance of our judiciary system, and all of its flaws, so preparing yourself now by reading the news will give you a leg up on being a better law student. If I could make a different choice, I would most definitely have taken the Constitutional Law class provided by the Politics Department. Since Constitutional Law is at the core of a law student’s education, having an constitutional law class under your belt before law school starts would be a benefit.”