Law school is a rewarding experience, but it’s not without its challenges, both academically and socially. The demanding workload, focus on independent learning, and inherent competition leads many students to experience occasional feelings of insecurity and isolation. If you’re moving to a new city to start law school or living away from home for the first time, these feelings may be even more acute. To help ease the adjustment to your new routine and your new locale, it’s important to invest some time into finding a community at your school. Your community will be the group of people that you commiserate with, celebrate with, or just have fun with over the next three years. Having personal connections, both in and outside of law school, will enhance your overall experience and help you build the support network you need to excel. To find your community at your new law school, try exploring some of the following options:
1. Student Organizations
Students organizations are generally the first place students look when trying to find like-minded individuals. Law school student organizations generally focus on advocating for a specific cause or practicing in a specific area of law. They’re a great way to meet other students who have similar interests and aspirations. To get the most benefit from student organizations, consider joining only one (maybe two) groups that you feel particularly passionate about and make an effort to really get involved. The more engaged you are with the group, the more likely you are to form meaningful connections. Joining a moot court team or other extracurricular activity is another great way to build your community.
2. University Resources
If your law school is associated with a university, you likely have access to groups, events, and resources beyond those available at your law school. Many of these events are beneficial to undergrad and graduate students alike, so don’t automatically assume that they’re not for law students. Additionally, the larger university community is a great way to find groups that fit a more specific niche. If there isn’t a law school student org that represents your particular cause or interest, the undergrad campus or main university might have what you’re looking for.
3. Community Groups
Being able to commiserate with other students who understand the unique challenges of legal education will go a long way towards helping you maintain your motivation throughout this journey, but it’s also important to have connections outside of law school. Having a network beyond your classmates will help you stay oriented to the real world and give you a break from the stress (and drama) of law school. Whether you’re new to the area or not, joining community groups can introduce you to new people, give you an outlet from law school, and even bolster your resume. Community groups may be anything from a book club to a volunteer organization to a trivia night. Law school can sometimes feel like an all-consuming endeavor, but it’s important to maintain your outside interests and hobbies. Make time each week to enjoy some non-law school related activities by joining a group in your community or attending events that aren’t on campus. And don’t be afraid to try something new!
4. Places of Worship
If you garner a strong sense of community and support from your religion or spiritual views, finding a place of worship near your new law school will be key. Religiously affiliated students groups are good resources if you need help finding locations that will be a good fit for you.
5. Sports Leagues
If vying for the highest class ranking isn’t satisfying your competitive drive, consider joining an adult sports league or intramural. Whether it’s a high-intensity sport or just a pick-up game of kickball for the less athletically inclined, leagues are a great way to meet people from diverse backgrounds. Many leagues will assign you to a team if you don’t have enough people to form one on your own. As an added benefit, participating in a regular sports league – or even just going to a consistent workout class – will help you get regular exercise, which is also good for your brain!
6. Student Services Offices
If you’re struggling to make connections or find your niche in law school, do not hesitate to reach out to your school’s students services office. These offices are there to make sure you have a positive experience and the staff genuinely wants to help, so take advantage of them! They will have knowledge about the resources your institution offers and groups that are accessible in your area to help you build your support network.
When finding your community at your law school, remember that most students are in a similar position and are eager to meet new people. Introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you in class, invite a few classmates to form a study group, and attend section mixers and events. The more involved, engaged, and open to new experiences that you are, the more likely you are to cultivate the connections it takes to establish your own community to support you over the next three years (and beyond).
For more helpful advice, check out these articles:
- Read to Succeed: Learn the Language of the Law
- Ahead of the Curve: What to Wear to Law School and How to Dress to Impress
- Everything You Need to Know About Finding Your Law School
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