Five Things I Wish I Knew About Law School: A 3L’s Reflections

alsawafby Sami Alsawaf, Class of 2017

As a 3L getting ready to graduate on May 14th (not that I’m counting the days or anything…), I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking back on my decision to attend William & Mary and what life was like before law school. Having spent three years here at W&M, I like to think I know a thing or two about law school and law students. So, I present to you the five things I wish I knew about law school before I started:

1. Positively, 100%, most certainly, everyone else is confused.

I remember back in my Torts class fall of 1L year, and I thought everyone else seemed to understand the material, and I didn’t. My classmates had the most eloquent answers to questions, and every time I opened my mouth to talk, I fumbled around to even form a sentence. Certainly, I was doomed to fail law school because I didn’t understand the most basic law school class that literally every law student in the country takes first semester.

Not the case! Once I mentioned to a friend in the class that I had no idea what the professor was talking about, I realized my friend felt the same way. Then I found another person, and another, and eventually realized that pretty much everyone was as confused as me. Ironically enough, I felt more confident in myself. I realized I wasn’t falling behind or not smart enough; law school is just hard!

2. Pick one club, and stay committed.

The first three weeks of law school are jam packed with interest meetings for different clubs and organizations. Go to as many as you can, because 1) free food, and 2) you might actually find something you are really passionate about! I was interested in all the events I went to, but it wasn’t until I went to the meeting for the Women’s Law Society that I felt like I finally found an organization in which I wanted to be actively involved. I applied to be on the Executive Board and started off as Social Media and Advertising Chair. My 2L year, I was Vice President, and this year, I am President of the group. I really think that picking one group and staying actively involved has been better than being part of three or four groups, but not being able to stay as involved as you’d like in each one.

3. You have an hour to go to the gym today, even if you don’t think so.

Before law school, I went to the gym pretty much every day. The weeks before starting school, I was worried if I would have the time to go to the gym and keep up with all my work for school. There were some days where I thought “there’s no way I have time to work out.” Even if I felt like I didn’t have time, I would try to go even if it was just for half and hour. It’s important to have some time to yourself that’s away from law school. Going to the gym is a great mental break and a vital part of staying healthy in law school. I promise, you’ll get all your work done eventually, so take that gym break because you probably need it more than you think.

4. Employers are people.

Over the past three years, I’ve had many interviews and work experiences that have provided me with the opportunity to meet practicing attorneys and judges. It’s always a little stressful, but something I’ve learned is that they are normal people too. In fact, they used to be just like me! They were once 1Ls slogging through a civil procedure reading, then they were going on summer associate interviews, and then they took the bar. They are normal people who happen to be lawyers. When meeting prospective employers or making networking contacts, try to not be too nervous. Chances are you’re binge watching the same Netflix show as them.

5. It’ll be over before you know it.

I honestly can’t believe that I’m getting ready to graduate in a few weeks. It feels like I just started the other day, and it’s been quite a ride. I think back over the classes I’ve taken, the exams I sat through, and the friends I made. As much as I’m ready to graduate, I’m going to miss my friends and the experiences I’ve had. The days seem long, but it goes by quickly. It’s your last chance to be a student, so don’t be afraid to try something new or take a fun class. You’ll learn a lot in law school, but you’ll have fun too. Don’t stress too much because, believe me, it’ll be over in the blink of an eye.

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