I’m always impressed by how 1Ls handle conflicting advice. Some of it is consequential, like how professors prefer their final exams answered (assuming the professors disclose that). Other times, it is about the best way to study. And then there are the times when we well-meaning professors give advice about what to do on Thanksgiving.

The answers to that question range from “all in” to “all out.”

Option 1: You should not partake in festivities with family at all! They are a distraction from your goal!

Option 2: You should eat dinner with them and then ignore them afterward as you return to studying!

Option 3: You should take the day off and enjoy it.  

It’s the last opinion that causes people to become unhinged. (Note: I’ve learned recently that to be an effective “academic” I should call people who disagree with me unhinged or unstable rather than address the substance of their ideas). They will argue that law firms will take away holidays in the future, and the student better get used to it.

To me, that seems like an argument for enjoying this Thanksgiving. Because you will be robbed of future holidays in the name of law firm profits.

But wait, others will be studying, and those grades are the most meaningful of your law school career. So, you should at least study some, if not all day. Maybe.  But the question is not whether they are doing so, but whether what they are doing is the best option. Or are they chasing pavements, even if they lead nowhere?

Law professors are full of contradictory advice because we did not achieve success in a uniform way. Sure, the bulk of us went to a few schools to become law professors, but what I mean is that we did not study the same ways, do the same things, or arrive at our destinations in perfect uniformity. We give advice from the one path that we know, and the advice that contradicts our viewpoint to us is unknown and untested.

So dear 1Ls, I leave it up to you. But answer these questions honestly before you decide:

  1. If I return to studying, will I only be halfheartedly doing so because I will be listening to my family, jealous I cannot join?
  2. If I try to focus on outlines while fighting off a tryptophan-induced coma, will my outlines be my best effort?
  3. Do you think a group study session on Thanksgiving will be productive and efficient, or will it be more of a social gathering?
  4. Perhaps it would have been better if I relaxed and hit the books after a rest?
  5. Am I studying to keep up with an imaginary ideal student who I think is in a cave studying without distraction 24/7?
  6. Do I have a schedule for my Thanksgiving week? Is it one that includes study time and rest time? Sleep time? Does it set realistic goals?
  7. Are there family members I haven’t seen in ages, but want to see? Will it boost my morale to see them? Will I regret not seeing them? Is their time with me short?

But if you don’t believe me (see my list of advice here), then take this wise professor’s word for it. And you might take a look at the literature about studying and getting a good night’s rest.

Bottom line: Don’t let fear or peer pressure be the driver of what you do on Thanksgiving. The point is that your actions should be deliberate. Each moment with you all-in. Whether that be enjoying moments with your family (without looking longingly at the security blankets that are your books) or studying efficiently. It’s a damn sight better than wishing you were doing the opposite of what you are doing, I promise you that.

My only other promise is that your turkey will be dry.

LawProfBlawg is an anonymous professor at a top 100 law school. You can see more of his musings hereHe is way funnier on social media, he claims. Please follow him on Twitter (@lawprofblawg). Email him at lawprofblawg@gmail.com.

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