One L

One L by Scott Turow

To begin preparing for my 1L year at Michigan Law, I read Scott Turow’s One L. Tonight I sit writing in my Michigan shirt (HA1L!), with my Barbri Law Preview course book and online lectures in front of me, thanks to a generous scholarship from Vinson & Elkins, as I write this blog.

Reading Scott Turow was another form of preparation, telling me about the anxiety, doubt, thrill, and joy that is waiting for me this fall in Ann Arbor, hopefully dulled a bit since Turow was in the throes of it in Cambridge.

I listened to Scott Turow read aloud his experience studying at Harvard Law in the first year, or 1L year, and all the while, I felt as if I was learning lessons of how to be strong, kind, steady, and intently focused as it all begins, remembering to take the occasional break and try my best to get a full nights sleep most nights.

Everyday this summer, I have been working in a law office, diligently reading much of the fiction and nonfiction on my pleasure reading list (for when law books take over my calendar come august), and familiarizing myself with aspects of the legal world. Reading One L helped me to feel more comfortable with what is to come, to brace myself, and to allow the thrill of an intense intellectual pursuit begin to build inside me again (I miss school!!).

Below I have shared some of the most popular quotes from Scott Turow’s One L. I found this book fascinating, and I believe it appeals to all, not only those pursuing or entangled in the legal profession. I didn’t take notes as I listened to the audiobook, so these quotes have been pulled from goodreads and other book sites to capture a bit of Scott Turow’s One L year at Harvard Law. Enjoy!

Fatigue & Anxiety

By Friday my nerves will be so brittle from sleeplessness and pressure and intellectual fatigue that I will not be certain I can make it through the day …

At random instants, I am likely to be stricken with acute feelings of panic, depression, indefinite need, and the pep talks and irony I practice on myself only seem to make it worse.

I am a law student in my first year at the law, and there are many moments when I am simply a mess.

Scott Turow, One L


I was in the grip of more of that painful confusion. Perini was a great teacher, I thought … I could see why Perini had impressed [the value of being prepared] on his students. But still, it seemed to me that he had been rude and unfair, that he had been cruel.

Scott Turow, One L

the peculiar privilege which Socraticism grants a teacher to invade the security of every student in the room means that in the wrong hands it can become an instrument of terror.

Scott Turow, One L


What was bad was awful. But what was good often approached the ideal. I was regularly inspired and invigorated by what I was studying, and I seldom lost the feeling that I was making good use of myself … In many ways, it was the best year in the education of this person…

Scott Turow, One L

I was willing to do it. I was determined to do it. By the end of the day, that had become my reaction to all of the signs of hard things ahead – a new purposefulness, hardy resolve. Everything I’d encountered so far – the law, my classmates, the great piece of discovery – had left me in deep thrall and I was bent on making sure that continued. I would have the best of it, I decided, whatever the obstacles.

Scott Turow, One L

On Michigan Law in the Present

From a book blog called Chapter Two, I read that Scott Turow’s own daughter attended law school at the University of Michigan. He explains of his daughters experience compared to his own:

But I don’t recall her fearing class, or her classmates. Overall, it was an intense experience for her but not soul-splitting, and part of that was due to her being in a less severe environment than I had experienced. I think the same thing would be true at most law schools these days where the brute exertion of patriarchal authority has gotten a bad name.

Scott Turow

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