Giving Thanks: Becoming Part of the Tribe

by Liz Rademacher, Class of 2016

Since Thanksgiving is around the corner, let’s talk about giving thanks. One of the things that I’m thankful for is that, unlike most other law schools across the country, W&M doesn’t divide its 1Ls into sections. That might seem like a funny thing to be thankful for, so let me explain.

Celebrating one of my classmate's birthday

Celebrating one of my classmate’s birthday

Instead of taking all the same doctrinal classes with a group of the same people in one large section for an entire year, the 226 1Ls at W&M are separated into several smaller groups of 10-15 students called firms. My firm, Firm 8, has 13 students in it. The students in a firm have all the same classes together, so I see the same 12 people every day no matter what, and we’ve all gotten pretty close. But because W&M doesn’t have sections, my firm takes each of its classes with dozens of different firms. My firm takes Torts with 5 or 6 other firms, but then in Civil Procedure we see a group of 5 different firms, and then again in Criminal Law.

What I love about this approach is that you’re practically guaranteed to have at least one class with one of the other 226 people in the 1L class, and you get to meet lots of people in the different firms. Instead of only ever seeing a small fraction of other 1Ls, I feel like I’ve spent time with a huge portion of people in my class. You start to see all how closely all the 1Ls are connected to one another. For example, my roommate is in another firm, but the people in her firm are neighbors with several of the people in my firm, who have class with people in other firms, who went to the same college as people in another firm…you get the idea. You realize really quickly how intertwined all the people in the W&M community are.

My roommate and me at “Firmsgiving”

My roommate and me at “Firmsgiving”

Being able to mix and mingle with different firms in class is great when you’re trying to study, but it’s got a lot of other pretty sweet perks. In particular, I feel like it’s helped me form a great group of friends here at W&M. People in my firm and I will eat dinner or catch a movie with some of the people I’ve met in different firms from class. We’ve celebrated birthdays together, gone to weekly Bar Reviews together, and even taken a weekend getaway to the beach together. Most recently we combined forces to have a potluck “Firmsgiving” dinner, and it’s been one of my favorite nights in Williamsburg so far this year.

There’s something comforting about seeing so many familiar faces at any given time when you’re at the law school. When you’re starting law school in a completely new place, making new friends can seem daunting. But I’ve found that all the opportunities I’ve had to meet my fellow 1Ls have made me feel like a part of one big, supportive tribe. And I’m pretty thankful for that.

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