Liz Rademacher graduated from W&M Law School this May with the class of 2016. Prior to law school she attended American University completing majors in Law and Society and Psychology. This fall, she will be starting a position with Davis & Harman LLP in Washington, DC.
It’s official: I’m done with law school! As a graduate of the Class of 2016, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my time at William & Mary and what I’ve learned from it. Here are a few things that I wish I would’ve told myself three years ago before starting my journey here in Williamsburg:
Just because you’re wrong doesn’t mean you don’t belong. Whether you answer a question wrong in class, perform less than perfectly on a midterm, or don’t make it to the last round of try-outs for the moot court team, don’t let it get you down. No one’s perfect, and neither are you. There will be days when you might doubt if you’ve really got what it takes to be a real lawyer. It can be overwhelming learning all the knowledge and skills that go into becoming an advocate, and sometimes it might seem like everyone around you knows more than you. Just remember that everyone around you feels the same way as you, even if they don’t show it, and don’t let it get you down. I once heard a professor at W&M say, “Just because you’re wrong doesn’t mean you don’t belong.” You will make some mistakes, and that’s okay. Real lawyers do too. If you maintain a positive attitude, things that seemed like obstacles at one point will become easier with time.
Take every opportunity you can get. Whether it’s an externship abroad or helping to do research for a professor, there will be multiple opportunities that will appear before you at a law school like this one. If you have a passion for a certain area of law, pursue it! Talk to your professors and older students, utilize the Office of Career Services, and figure out how to make your experience here meaningful, both inside and outside of the classroom. I’ve learned more from working in clinics and meeting with professors than I have in some classes, and it’s important to remember that.
Find your people. I can honestly say that the best part about my law school experience wasn’t the things I learned or the classes I took (those were all good too though!). Instead, the best part was the people I met along the way. W&M’s community of students, faculty, and staff is so tight-knit and supportive, and it is that community that will sustain you and grow you. I’ve learned so much about the law and about life from my professors and friends here, and those connections will continue to help me in the future.
Give back. At W&M, we learn that no matter what you decide to do with your law degree, it’s important to find a way to be a public servant. Whether that means running a 5k for the Bone Marrow Drive or participating in one of the Law School’s many clinics, we learn while we’re here how important it is to be a citizen lawyer. As professionals, we will have a responsibility to help improve our communities, and I’m grateful to have learned this lesson while I’ve been here.
Remember to have fun! Law school isn’t just for boring, serious people. In the three years I’ve been in Williamsburg, I’ve been taken road trips to beaches and wineries, gone on all the rollercoasters at Busch Gardens, seen the Grand Illumination fireworks show in Colonial Williamsburg, and tasted the best Vietnamese food that Newport News has to offer. Ultimately, you have to balance work with fun, and there are ample opportunities to do that here.
- Giving Thanks: Becoming Part of the Tribe
- Midterms are Awesome…
- A Day in the Life of a 1L
- Summer Experiences: Federal Government in Washington, D.C.
- Halfway There!
- Arguing Before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals – Appellate and Supreme Court Clinic