So You’re Gonna Be a 1L: Advice for Incoming Law Students

1L students walk to Kimball Theater for Opening Day of Law Week!

1L students walk to Kimball Theater for Opening Day of Law Week!

If you’ve been following our Instagram this week, you may have noticed some pieces of advice from current students about starting law school. There has been some GREAT information, so if you don’t already follow us, make sure you do. But we did notice that a few pieces of information were missing, so here is our take:

5 Things Every Incoming 1L Should Know:

  1. No one else knows what they’re doing either. It doesn’t matter if you’re coming straight from undergrad or if you’ve been working as a paralegal for 5 years – for the most part, no one has been in law school before the day they step foot in the door. Which means that no one else knows exactly what to do, what to say, where to go, or what to expect. It’s totally normal to be both excited and terrified at the thought of starting law school. One of the reasons we ask current students to work with Legal Practice sections is to make sure that there is someone there to help who has been in your shoes before (and a bit more recently than some of the faculty). Don’t worry about making a mistake, because everyone else will, too.
  2. No one will remember your answer to a cold-call. Admittedly, someone did bring this up in our Instagram chat, but it’s worth reiterating. Cold-calls are the bane of most students’ existence in the first year if for no other reason than no one wants to be wrong or ill-prepared in a room full of your peers. Here’s the good news: no one will remember what you said. We always hear the horror stories of law schools across the country with vindictive faculty out to get students for being unprepared in their first few weeks – we can very confidently say that has never happened here. And your peers in class will be there with the information to back you up and help you out in those situations.
  3. Your faculty are your friends. Go. To. Office. Hours. Yes, they can be intimidating, but it will be one of the best things you can do for yourself in the first few weeks of class. Introduce yourself to your faculty, get to know them a bit, and help them get to know you. It’s much easier to build that relationship early on than wait until 2 weeks before finals to try and get help. This goes for research librarians, administrators, and housekeeping staff, too. Everyone in this building wants you to be successful and happy during your time here. Insiders tip: get to know Ms. Sherri in Zime Cafe – she is a legend among legends. 
  4. Librarys are for studying, not living. This is, and we can’t stress this enough, the most important tip. You will spend a lot of time in the library,  but there is no reason for you to live there. Go home. Sleep. Eat something. Go out with your friends. Do something you love that isn’t related to Con Law or Torts. The library will always be there, but one of the most important things to remember is that if you aren’t living well, you can’t study well. Mental health and wellness is a big focus here, and in a profession with a reputation for stress and anxiety, building a routine for wellness now will help you in your future career.
  5. It’s only 3 years. Whether you need to hear that at 3 AM when you’re writing your Property outline or savoring a moment with friends at Barrister’s Ball, law school is only three years. It’s hard, yes; it’s frustrating, definitely; it sometimes may feel like it’s not worth it, sure. But in the end, it will be three years of lifelong friendships, work experiences that seemed completely unobtainable, and opportunities that many law students won’t get the chance to take part in. You’ll be a law student for three years, but an alum for life.

That One Time in a Congressional Hearing

Jamie & RDU Interns

Jamie (right) and the other Retaliation and Disclosure Unit interns

I can’t believe this is already the last week of my internship at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel!  The last few weeks have been very exciting, particularly because my intern duties shifted a little bit.  Since my last post, I went from working directly on cases in the Retaliation & Disclosure Unit (RDU) to working on a team tasked with prepping the Special Counsel for testimony in a congressional hearing.

The hearing involved retaliatory practices within the Department of Veterans Affairs, so as an RDU intern, I was asked to help with preparing materials for the hearing.  During these couple weeks, I had to read and summarize reports containing OSC data, watch previous hearings to formulate potential questions that members of Congress might ask, and help put together binders with OSC data for the Special Counsel and his staff to have handy during the actual hearing, among other tasks. All of this culminated in going to the Hill with the Special Counsel to attend the hearing.

I had never been to a congressional hearing before, and it was especially exciting after spending so much time preparing materials for the event.  This opportunity is just another example of how this summer has allowed me to not only explore my interests, but to hone them.  Throughout this summer, I have had the opportunity to work directly on cases where I got to analyze various disclosures and prohibited personal practices, do document review, participate in witness interviews, prepare initial summaries of case files for attorneys, and participate in preparing the Special Counsel for a congressional hearing, which allowed me to engage in hands-on experience to learn more about congressional investigations and oversight.  These varied experiences have been invaluable in realizing what kind of law I’m interested in, and have opened doors to pursuing those interests.

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better summer experience here at OSC.  Working directly on cases and preparing for and attending a congressional hearing (and weekly trivia night!) are only a few of many examples of why I have enjoyed my summer so much.  I am excited to bring what I learned this summer back to Williamsburg with me in a few weeks!

Let’s Get Social! 
You’re following us on Instagram, right?? @wmlawadmissions gives you the inside scoop on applications, where you can meet us on the road, and getting ready for #lifeatwmlaw. Then you can follow up with @wmlawschool to get a legit view into student life, faculty highlights, and our fantastic alums! What are you waiting for?! Go hit that follow button and learn how W&M Law students #exceleverywhere