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How to Talk About Law School With Your Family This Thanksgiving

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on November 23, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's Thanksgiving break. You're overworked, stressed out, and dreading all the studying you'll be doing in the few weeks before finals. The last thing you want to do is deal with some cousin asking, "Why don't you work for the Supreme Court this summer? I hear they take interns."

But no matter how much you'd like to avoid the subject, if you want turkey, you'll have to talk about law school. Here are some strategies to get you through it.

Don't Go Into Too Much Detail

The easiest way to talk about law school is simply to be honest. Honest but brief. When someone asks how law school is going, give a straightforward, simple answer. When they ask how your fellow students are, explain your section. If they want to know how you're doing so far, remind them that (for 1Ls at least) you still haven't had any real exams.

Don't get caught up in your stress and anxiety -- that will just stress you out more, while bringing down the table. And, unless you're celebrating with a bunch of lawyers, don't regale everyone with your knowledge of contributory negligence or the battle of the forms. Those things are boring to normal people.

Do Have a Few Good Stories on Hand

When your relatives ask you about law school, they're usually just checking in. Your response can be relatively superficial. (See above.) But at big gatherings like Thanksgiving, you might have to go into a bit more detail.

It helps to have two or three good law school stories up your sleeve, should Aunt Mae cold call you while the gravy is being made. Try to have one funny or insightful story about law school itself -- like how you got called on first day for Civ Pro and had no idea what you were talking about, or how you can see all your classmates desperately googling the answers to questions during lectures.

A good story about the law itself is nice to have too, especially if you want to shift away from personal discussions. Maybe regale the table by telling them about Frigaliment Importing Co. v. BNS International Sales Corp., (that's the "What is chicken?" case), Fisher v. Lowe (the opinion is entirely in rhyming verse) or the terrible tale of R. v. Dudley and Stephens, the shipwrecked sailors who ate one of their crew. Be decent, though, and save the cannibalism stories for after dinner.

Finally, if you're feeling stuck or tired of talking about school, simply change the subject. Try talking politics, instead.

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