A British professor, quoted by an American lawprof (Einer Elhauge) in an article (published last October) called "Is 1L one hell? Survival tips from a law professor." There are 10 survival tips, and the Britprof's quote is from #9: "Don't be boring." That's a good tip for everyone, but as applied to first year law students:
Don’t be afraid to disagree or be provocative, or even to try on positions you aren’t quite sure about. And don’t close your minds to those who disagree with you. You may find that they are more convincing than you thought, or that discussion with them deepens your understanding of just why they are so wrong.Students (and others) are afraid to say something wrong or — horrors! — frowned upon by their peers 'n' profs. We need the fear of being boring as a counterweight. Oh, I'm kidding. You don't need to be afraid of being boring. You just need to succumb to seductive and intense pleasures of not being boring.
Professor Elhauge's #1 tip is something I've been saying to students for a quarter century:
1. Realize the Difference Between Being Confused and Understanding the Confusion
Often students have the following the experience. They read the materials and thought the law seemed pretty clear. Then they went to class. And now the issues seem confusing. So they wrongly conclude that class is actually lessening their understanding. What this reaction misses is that often the correct understanding is that the laws and issues are unclear. There is conflict about what the doctrine means, when it applies, when it trumps other doctrines, and what justifies it, and the same set of issues can be framed in multiple ways. Realizing this doesn’t mean you are confused; it means you understand the confusion.It's a gift to delight in understanding that comes in the form of confusion. Most lawprofs have this gift, I think. Which makes it all the more annoying for the law students who resist the realization that their confusion is in fact an understanding of confusion. See? It's annoying. We're annoying, we lawprofs.