What They Don’t Tell You About 1L

Nick Agyevi-Armah, 1L

Nick Agyevi-Armah, 1L

They don’t tell you how much you’ll learn.

Or maybe they did, but I didn’t think I’d learn what I actually ended up learning. Yes, I learned about how there’s no “duty to rescue,”  in Torts; and how a death that occurs in the course of a felony, regardless of whether it was intended, can result in a Felony Murder charge in Criminal Law; and, yeah, I learned that a corporation can be subject to lawsuits outside the state in which it’s headquartered from Civil Procedure (shivers).

But I learned more about me, too.

I learned that I belong here. At the beginning of the year, I told you all how excited I was to be in this space: I was excited to learn laws that govern our society, excited to understand the legal systems that impact—both positively and negatively—members of our community, and, mostly, I was excited to learn amongst American’s next great leaders.

These learning expectations were daunting, though. How was I to succeed in such an academically challenging environment coming straight from undergrad? Would I burnout? Would I be able to retain as much information as my colleagues did? Would I be able to employ the study tactics necessary for a successful academic career? Would I be able to get involved in all the extracurricular organizations that piqued my interest? I was excited—and nervous—to find answers to these questions, to embark on a journey that would lead me closer to a rewarding legal career.

1L year at William & Mary taught me not only the importance of complete immersion in the law school experience, but the importance of identifying and understanding one’s role in contemporary legal society. The lessons that aid in this pursuit of identification are messy, though: they can consist of long hours in the library, slogging over complex readings; they can include chilling cold calls that make you swear you’re not comprehending the information correctly; and they can include office hour sessions with professors that leave you more confused than before.

But these lessons can be good, too: they consist of those amazing moments when the reading actually clicks; or the warm, glowy moments when you ace a cold call; and those wonderful, wonderful times you can tell you’re in the zone, learning how to think critically and analytically about everything and anything.

And this is how I stand before you today. A messy amalgam of all the amazing and not so great things that happened my 1L year, a mixture of colorful experiences that affirmed my space in this law school and the legal profession. I’m here not because of what others think of me but because what 1L has forced me to recognize about myself. I’m thankful to all my friends, family, and to William and Mary for all the support, love, and guidance I’ve received. 2L year will be hard, but I’m confident that my 1L experience has provided an outstanding foundation for the rest of my academic career.

We Are Citizen Lawyers

Nick Agyevi-Armah, 1L

Nick Agyevi-Armah, 1L

Distinguishing between law schools is a difficult task. Many schools share similar mission statements, visions for their students, or programming and marketing that encompass the  “unique” ideologies their students possess. It can get overwhelming sifting through countless versions of “our students are different!” or “our faculty are stellar!” or “these student organizations are one-of-a-kind!” These laudatory phrases often fall on ears that have been inundated with information that implores students to visualize why going to this specific law school would set them apart from other law students, or how attending this law school will turn them into a different kind of lawyer.

classroomWilliam & Mary’s citizen lawyer is more than a marketing strategy–it’s a commitment to the ethical, and moral foundations that create the foundation of our legal system; it’s a reminder to all that legal services are to always remain equitable, just, fair, and, above-all, client-centered. William & Mary doesn’t just educate citizen lawyers—its very foundation rests in the civic ideals that operationalize the service-oriented philosophy the legal field encompasses.

William & Mary students are civic leaders who advocate passionately for equality and justice in a world where marginalized groups are pushed further and further outwards. W&M students are not trained to merely “advocate”—but taught that advocacy means denoting a substantial portion of one’s professional life and career aspirations to support the greater public good. W&M students and faculty are vital influencers in the justice system that exists in contemporary society.

bushrodmootcourtWe live in a world that Thomas Jefferson, George Wythe, and John Marshall could not have dreamed. The legal system is an entirely different landscape than it was in 1779. But the values of the citizen lawyer, the components of that concept, remain the same. We’re proud of our ethos and the legacy of citizen lawyers that have gone before us, and we will continue to be role models for the legal field.

Nick is a 1L from Silver Springs, Maryland. At William & Mary Law School, he is highly involved in many organizations, including representing the 1L class in SBA and serving his community through Equality Alliance, Lawyers Helping Lawyers, and the Black Law Student Association to name a few.