Q & A for Incoming 1Ls

B Lowellby Brooke Lowell, Class of 2020

Hi Incoming 1Ls!

In a little less than two months, you will be starting law school in Williamsburg! I have just finished my first year here at William & Mary and am currently spending the summer doing research with one of my professors. I remember having a lot of questions before I started here last August, and I hope I can ease your minds by answering a few that stood out for me.

1. How long does it take to adjust to law school-style learning?

For me, the adjustment took a lot longer than I would have liked. My civil procedure professor, Evan Criddle, told our class it would take us about eight weeks to become adept at briefing cases. I would say that was about right. The task was daunting, and for the first few weeks of class my briefs were completely red-lined with edits. The process does get easier; you will get that one case that you finally fully understand, and it will feel amazing. More importantly, do not be stressed about how long it’s taking you! You will get it, and everyone is going through the same process.

2. I feel like I don’t belong here . . . does everyone feel like an imposter in law school?

Imposter syndrome is a real thing that everyone experiences. The unique thing about law school is that you truly don’t know what it’s like until you are here yourself. How do we fix this syndrome that makes us feel like we do not belong at W&M? Be patient with yourself, and know that you belong here. Confide in your friends who absolutely feel the same way as you do.

3. How do I make friends in law school?

I want to take this opportunity to talk about sections. Your section is a group of 10-15 people with whom you have all of your classes for the entire 1L year. My section was small, only 10 people, but that helped bring us all closer. I leaned on my section a lot throughout the semesters. We had snacks twice a week for our writing classes and brought in a full breakfast buffet at the end of the year. Because you are all in the same classes, your section is a great outlet if you’re feeling stressed. A group of my section and I watched The Bachelor together every Monday, and it was a fun way for us to clear our heads. I would not have made it through the year without them. If, for whatever reason, you and your section don’t click, you are sure to find your tribe throughout law week, during your classes, and in the many student organization/activities available to join and participate with others.

4. How scary is cold calling in class?

Cold calling is not so scary after the first time. I had the unique pleasure of being the one law student cold called during law week by Professor Gershowitz during a professionalism lecture. Professors have different teaching styles, and you will adapt to each, as needed. Ultimately, if you try to answer but are wrong, professors are understanding and will guide you to the correct answer. Most important, be prepared and complete the required reading.

5. Will we survive?

Yes! Law school is the most challenging, but most rewarding experience in my life. I ended the year not only a better student, but also a better person, classmate, and friend. The friendships I have made here are ones that will last for a lifetime. With one year down so quickly, I know graduation will come before we know it, just like it will for you. You will not only survive—you will learn more about yourself, gain self-confidence, hone your research and writing skills, and come to know and love the wonderful town that is Williamsburg. One last tip: get the loaded cheese fries at the Green Leafe Cafe!

B Lowell Photo

My sectionmates, fellow, and I after we surprised our fellow with a Valentine’s Day gift of a Law Capella performance.

Intramural Sports and Other Activities in Williamsburg

K KoballaBy Kasey Koballa, Class of 2018

At William & Mary, outside of the classroom, you can often find our students participating in Intramural sports or other athletic activities. These provide students with a mental break from the classroom as well as a great opportunity to engage with other law students and have some fun!  Law students participate in intramural sports with the rest of the College, which can heighten the competition, allows for the change to meet people outside of the law school, and provides stress-relief.  These sports range from team sports (such as volleyball, dodgeball, soccer, basketball, softball, and flag football) to a few individual sports (such as tennis and rock climbing).

With a large number of prior collegiate athletes at William & Mary in addition to the competitive nature of law students, our teams often fare well against the undergraduates, but offer some less-competitive avenues as well. Throughout my three years here, I have played on various soccer, basketball, and football teams.  A few of the teams have contended for championships, but with others, we were lucky to just get into playoffs.  Regardless of the success, engaging in intramural sports provided me with a great opportunity to get to know other students and let off a little stress, and most importantly, have fun!  When I entered law school, I was worried whether I would still have time to pay sports (or even go to the gym), but we highly encourage students to get involved in intramural sports and athletic activities alike.  It is nice to know that every time I go to the William & Mary gym I’ll run into another law student and a smiling, familiar face!

Outside of Intramural opportunities, William & Mary Law student organizations, such as the Military and Veterans Law Society, run weekly clubs as well as the Williamsburg Winery and a few other organizations throughout the Williamsburg Community. We also host an annual Faculty-Student Basketball game (as part of Admitted Students Weekend). William & Mary sends a team yearly to the UVA Softball Tournament in April.  Additionally, student groups such as the Sports and Entertainment Law Society and the Innocence Project have hosted basketball and dodgeball tournaments to raise money for a good cause – another source of engagement and stress relief!

Lastly, while we are not directly on the coast of Virginia, Williamsburg is surrounded by various bodies of water. With the mild-climate in Williamsburg, students will often rent boats, canoes, or paddleboards and get out on the James River or College Creek along the Colonial Parkway.  This offers students with more and diverse opportunities to stay active, relieve stress, and get some Vitamin D!  And, personally being from the coast, I feel that nothing relieves stress better than being out on the water!