The law school fall term is just around the corner and that means new 1L students. Before classes begin and law school is in full swing, 1Ls must go through orientation and learn all about the law school experience. Since I went through this last year, I know exactly how you’re feeling right now. Fortunately, I survived and you will too!
Is Orientation Like Undergrad?
You probably went to orientation in undergraduate where you learned about the school and transitioned into college. Law school orientation is much different. Rather than learning about how to live on your own and be an adult while getting to know other incoming freshmen, you are introduced to law school and your next three years. Law school orientation, while exciting and the first step of your legal journey, does not leave a warm fuzzy feeling at the end of the day. Instead, it is your first look at your first year, the “scare you to death” year in law school.
Sorry if I scared you. However, the rumor is (and in fact it is the truth) that in the first year a law student is “scared to death.” (Note: 2L is “work to death” and 3L “bore to death”). This means that right from the get-go, orientation is going to be stressful, and you are going to have to work hard on day one. You will probably get emails and updates regarding orientation. LOOK AT THESE MESSAGES. Most schools assign work to be completed in time for orientation, because normally you start a class during the first week. In order to start orientation (and law school for that matter) out right, you need to be prepared and know what you need to do to be ready.
Well, don’t actually be afraid but, unfortunately, you will probably feel this way by the end of the week. Law school administrators like to scare 1Ls by telling them about how hard they are going work, how they aren’t going to get the grades they want, and how they need to start looking for a job today. I remember on my first day of orientation (and you will probably hear this too), they told my incoming class, “Look to your left, and then look to your right. By graduation one of you won’t be here.” Arguably this is true because people do drop, transfer or even finish at a later time, but this is still a traumatizing thing to tell someone who is just starting law school!! I’m going to dispel the myth: not as many people drop out as you think, you can get the grades you want (but you have to work hard), and you will get a summer job even if you aren’t networking on day one. However, law school is hard. It will be one of the most difficult experiences of your life. It is frustrating and overwhelming at times. BUT that doesn’t mean you should be afraid or slack off. You will have to work hard to be successful (I mean, would you want it any other way?) but you can and will do it! So, yes, it will be hard, and yes, you probably will get overwhelmed (especially in week one), but you CAN do it.
This is your first major step on your legal journey, so it would be no surprise to anyone if you are nervous and overwhelmed. Every lawyer you see now was nervous at one point in their law school career. This is an important moment for you, and you should definitely cherish the feelings and time that you are experiencing. However, don’t let your nerves get in the way of actually enjoying the experience. Law school is stressful enough, you don’t need to stress yourself out more. Set aside time before and during orientation for doing something you like to do. Also, make sure you have yourself time in advance to get mentally prepared and ready for law school. If you come into school relaxed, you will have so much more endurance to make it through to finals.
Be Pumped-up for Your First Year!
All that being said, you should be pumped up for your first year of law school! Think about all that you have accomplished in getting to this step of your life. It is an exciting moment, and you should be very proud of yourself. Go into law school feeling confident and ready for all that your professors have to throw at you! However, you also should note that if you have had to accomplish a lot and work hard to get to law school, so have all of your classmates. You are surrounded by brilliant minds that will become the next generation of lawyers (and yes, this includes you!) So make sure you come to orientation ready to meet people who are similar to you and connect with them. These are your companions for this crazy legal journey. Overall, as long as you are mentally and physically prepared for law school, you will be just fine, so don’t worry about orientation, but take it seriously. You can do it and will be happy you made through it.
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