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.