by Guest Blogger Laura Jacobson
Guest Blogger Laura Jacobson, Class of 2011
Graduation is this weekend! After three years of long hours at the library and reading more cases than I ever thought possible, that sentence keeps going through my head with a combination of excitement, disbelief, and even unexpected sadness. Amid the hubbub of graduation parties and ceremonies and ushering the family around town, these sentiments replay themselves over and over again as I consider how much has happened in the last three years.
In some ways it seems so long ago since I started as a 1L at William & Mary, a stranger to law school, Williamsburg, and even the East Coast. When I was preparing to go to William & Mary, an alum told me that law school would change me—after an education like this, I would never look at a problem the same way as I did before, never approach an issue the same, or see opposing arguments in the same light. I would forever analyze the world in a different way, he warned me. It was advice I thought little of at the time, but words that have been echoing in my mind more and more often in these last few weeks. That’s where the disbelief comes in—he was so right! Three years is really not a long period of time at all, but 1L year seems so long ago because I’ve learned so much—changed so much—since then. In these three years, I’ve learned how to wade through a debate and pick out the relevant issues, to read an opinion and recognize the deeper principles driving its author, to listen to someone’s story and know which questions to ask so that I can offer the best help.
Law school has changed me, I am beginning to see that. And at the same time, my three years at William & Mary have helped me become the kind of lawyer I knew I wanted to be before I ever arrived here, affirming things I thought were important before I knew anything about law school life. I was drawn to William & Mary because of its emphasis on training citizen-lawyers, and I haven’t been disappointed. My thought processes may be shaped differently now when it comes to analyzing a problem, but William & Mary has shown me that I can hold fast to my belief that there really is a place for “idealist” lawyers. You can expect to change the world around you with your J.D.—my professors have proved this. In them I’ve seen such amazing models of character, compassion, and competence; I have plenty examples of what a citizen-lawyer looks like. That’s where the excitement comes in—I can’t wait to join the practice of law with the William & Mary experience behind me.
On the eve of graduation, there are plenty of opportunities to be nostalgic. Everything is a last—the last lecture I’ll hear from my favorite professor, the last exam I’ll stress over, the last paper I’ll put finishing touches on right up until the deadline. It’s the last intramural sports game, the last rare lazy afternoon spent on Jamestown beach, the last pitcher I’ll share at Paul’s with my same group of friends. All things considered, the twinge of sadness mixed in with the other emotions right now shouldn’t be that unexpected. It’s crazy to think that I came to William & Mary without knowing a soul when now there are so many people I’ll be sorry to leave.
Graduation is this weekend. It’s sure to be filled with good times reminiscing how far we have come and excited talk about where we’re going. It’s excitement, disbelief, and that bit of sadness that accompanies every transition. And permeating all of that, it’s intense pride in being part of the William & Mary School of Law Class of 2011.