Class of 2019, Welcome to HLS!

Dear 1Ls,

Welcome to Harvard Law School! You are about to begin an exciting year and your legal career.

1L year can be many things: inspiring, demanding, happy, sad,  lonely, busy, and much more. You’ll engage with challenging texts, meet wonderful professors, and make lifelong friends. Of course, 1L year can also be difficult in many ways, whether socially, academically, or spiritually.

Below are links to pieces from students, faculty, and staff to help you navigate those difficulties and make the most of your 1L year. There are a variety of viewpoints from a variety of people. Some of the advice may be even be contradictory.

Nevertheless, we hope and think that these pieces will inform and comfort you, if for no other reason than to reassure you that others have gone through what you are about to go through and lived to tell the tale.

Again, welcome to HLS and welcome to Cambridge. We are so excited to see each of you join our readership and the HLS community.

Sincerely,
Jim An and Brianna Rennix, editors-in-chief

P.S. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @hlrecord to keep up with our latest stories and HLS news.

Now That You’re Here, Relax, But Stay Engaged by John Goldberg, Professor
Some Useful Things to Know by Brianna Rennix, Record editor-in-chief
Six Easy Steps to Fun and Profit in Law School and Life by Jim An, Record editor-in-chief
Dear 1Ls: Consider the Clock by Pete Davis, Record online editor
If I Did It All Over Again by Tyra Walker, Record contributor
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility by Kassi Yukevich, ACS president
Make the Most of Your Library by Meg Kribble, HLS librarian
Ignore These Lessons at Your Own Risk by Fenno, Perennial HLS student
Talk to Classmates, Professors, Mentors by Natalie Vernon, Paavani Garg, and Amanda Lee, WLA leaders
Don’t Forget to Smell the Roses by Jeremy Salinger and Jacqueline Wolpoe, JLSA co-presidents
More Than Classrooms by Kristin Turner, BLSA president
Speak Up by Stephanie Jimenez, La Alianza co-president
Thinking Like a Lawyer by Deborah Beth Medows, N.Y.S. Dept. of Health
You Don’t Have to Do It All by Jennifer Marr, RAP industry relations chair
HMP Members Offer Advice to New 1Ls by Lauren Godles, Victoria Hartmann, Alicia Daniels, and Benjamin Hecht, HMP board members

HMP Members Offer Advice to New 1Ls

  • If you’re confused, there is a very good chance others in the class are confused too. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions.
  • You will get faster at reading cases, so try not to panic.
  • Not all lawyers are court lawyers. The case method of teaching law biases us toward thinking litigation (specifically, appellate litigation) is what it means to be a lawyer. In fact, many lawyers end up doing something else and there are lots of opportunities at HLS to try your hand at policy work, academic research, business development, and alternative dispute resolution.

Continue reading “HMP Members Offer Advice to New 1Ls”

More Than Classrooms

Dearest 1Ls,

There is something very startling about being asked to reflect on an experience that you haven’t fully realized is coming to a close. Nonetheless, here are a few words of advice as you begin this unique journey and what you’ll soon know is the very full experience HLS can be.

  1. Make the HLS experience yours.

Law school, and 1L especially, is such a peculiar experience that, at times, you’ll forget how to relate to people who exist outside of the bubble. As scholars who will grapple with nuances and haggle over semantics, you’ll somehow still struggle to describe the uniqueness that is the HLS experience—and that’s okay! This shared experience will form the basis for many friendships and connections. However, the current can also pull you under and lead you to go through law school the way other people think you should do law school.

As much as HLS is a collective of brilliant minds, scholars and people, don’t forget the individual that applied to HLS. Continue reading “More Than Classrooms”

Fenno: Ignore These Lessons at Your Own Risk

As the longest-serving member of the Harvard Law School student body, I am happy to offer a few words of advice to incoming 1Ls. As you embark on this exciting new phase of your life, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. The law is a terrible profession.

Judicial opinions are nothing but a mix of bad philosophy, amateur sociology, and half-remembered historical anecdotes. They are appallingly written as a genre, and reading too many of them will inevitably make your own writing much worse. Unfortunately, only those who fully steep themselves in this cesspool of verbiage will ever manage to become judges, and thus the hideous cycle of unreadability perpetuates itself forever.
Continue reading “Fenno: Ignore These Lessons at Your Own Risk”

If I Did It All Over Again

Since one of the most exhilarating experiences of my summer was rotating between couches to watch Ezra Edelman’s five-part ESPN documentary OJ: Made in America, I felt inclined to share my own tell-all account of how I would do 1L, if I did it all over again.

Step 1. Start preparing for exams early.

What I have found to be, perhaps, the most difficult adjustment to the Bizarro World that is law school is the fact that no matter what you learn during the semester, the only factor that typically has a material effect on your eventual transcript is your performance on a three- or eight-hour exam at the end of the semester. If I did 1L all over again, I would let this single reality be my guide.

It is all too easy to be whisked away by the decorated language of Cardozo opinions, but unless Cardozo can teach you how to issue spot, your flowery friend might just leave you out of luck. I do not mean to diminish the importance of learning the substance of the law, but only to emphasize that for the first time in many of our educational lives, substance will only get you so far. Continue reading “If I Did It All Over Again”

Six Easy Steps to Fun and Profit in Law School and Life

Hello 1Ls! You all have just entered a strange and wonderful world, and I hope each one of you has an amazing time. That said, I’d like to give y’all just a few tips to help you make the most of your time in law school.

  1. Go to class

It’s true that a lot of things can be learned directly from your casebooks. But sometimes professors say things during class not covered in the casebooks or talk about what they like to emphasize on exams. Sometimes somebody in your class says something smart, and you’ll want to know who the smart people are so you can ask them for their outlines. And sometimes a professor does a one-person reenactment of The Hangover and everyone has a nice laugh. I’m not saying that the last thing has ever happened to me, but if it did, you wouldn’t want to miss it. Continue reading “Six Easy Steps to Fun and Profit in Law School and Life”

Now That You’re Here, Relax, But Stay Engaged

Welcome to HLS! I’ve been invited to offer a few words of advice, so… [1]

First, relax.

Easier said than done, no doubt. But remember, you are here for good reason. You belong here. It may seem that some of your classmates know more about law or law school than you do. Probably you’re just being hard on yourself. In any event, it’s what you’re all going to be learning that matters.  

Second, focus. Continue reading “Now That You’re Here, Relax, But Stay Engaged”

Some Useful Things to Know

1. There is a hallway on the second floor of Wasserstein that leads straight into the Hark cafeteria.

It’s on the far right as you face the big window. Not the side with the Milstein rooms, where you got to sit through all those Orientation speeches — the other side.

I am an idiot, and I never speak to anyone, ever, and so I didn’t know this hallway was there for my first nine months at HLS. During those nine months, whenever I was in a second-floor classroom, I had to decide whether I was going to use my two-minute bathroom break to take a piss or dash to the Hark and buy a heap of cookies. Needless to say, I always chose the latter, and my bladder suffered for it.

But though law school sometimes involves hard choices, this doesn’t have to be one of them. The second-floor hallway will cut your cookie-purchasing time in half. There’s even a bathroom on your way back. This thing is basically the Northwest Passage. Continue reading “Some Useful Things to Know”

Thinking Like a Lawyer

Congratulations on beginning your legal journey. Here are two important questions to consider as you start your first year of law school: first, what are the costs of learning to think like a lawyer, and second, how can you create a meaningful career for yourself while learning to do so?

The legal community that you are joining faces serious challenges. The statistics are sobering: drinking is a problem for one out of three lawyers, and over thirty-two percent of lawyers under 30 qualify as problem drinkers.[1] A study by the American Bar Association and the Betty Ford Foundation found that 28% of lawyers struggle with depression, 19% reported experiencing anxiety, and 23% said they experience stress.

Continue reading “Thinking Like a Lawyer”

Talk to Classmates, Professors, Mentors

Dear Class of 2019,

Welcome to Harvard Law School! As you embark on this new academic adventure, we wanted to share a few tidbits of advice. Take a deep breath and get excited for a challenging and rewarding year.

  1. Remember that you know yourself best.

Keep your own study habits and figure out what works best for you. Like study groups? Join one. Prefer to work in your house by yourself? Do it. Don’t let other people’s approach to the first year of law school affect you. There is no right or wrong way to read cases and digest material. What you’ve done to get here will likely serve you best. Continue reading “Talk to Classmates, Professors, Mentors”

Make the Most of Your Library

Welcome, new HLS students! We at your new library are excited that you’re here.

We know you’re probably experiencing information overload right now, so we’ll keep this short and, we hope, whet your appetites to learn more about how the HLS Library can make life as a law student easier for you. Here are some things we think every new HLS student should know about their library.

  1. You can ask us anything.

There’s no such thing as a stupid question at this library. In fact, so-called “stupid questions” often turn out to be the trickiest to answer, while questions you might think are hard turn out to be easy. Continue reading “Make the Most of Your Library”

Don’t Forget to Smell the Roses

Dear New Students,

Let us be the 613th people to welcome you to HLS. You are in the first steps of what will be an amazing journey. Drink for the word journey. #TheBachelorette #I’mWithLuke #TheBacheLuke.

As you begin your decorated legal careers, people will be asking you all sorts of challenging questions. Your professors will ask you for the facts and holding of Palsgraf, and your friends and families will be asking you for the definition of a tort. The former we can help you with, the latter … well … we are sure we could find someone to help you out. Continue reading “Don’t Forget to Smell the Roses”

Speak Up

Being cold-called for the first time in class is the biggest fear for most 1Ls. Looking back now, I thought I would remember what questions the professor asked, I thought I would remember my horribly incorrect answer and the embarrassment I would feel. But no, what I remember the most is how my Miami-Cuban accent reverberated through the classroom.

My accent, my voice, did not sound like the voices of my classmates. It was definitely different and it made me realize that I was different. The funny thing is my “accent” is actually non-existent in Miami. I know many people who have much stronger accents back home, and I actually sound “American” in comparison. But here, in Cambridge, I definitely had an accent. Continue reading “Speak Up”

You Don’t Have to Do It All

Congratulations 1Ls and welcome to Harvard Law School!

As you will all soon realize, between its curriculum and extracurricular activities, HLS will be one of the most valuable resources in your life. However, with the multitude of opportunities for student involvement at HLS, there often comes a certain 1L anxiety, a notion that there are certain activities you “should” participate in by mere virtue of your attendance here, especially if other people are doing it as well.

The desire to throw yourself into every single interesting activity you come across is understandable, and we are lucky that HLS has so many attractive offerings. I am here to at least try to alleviate this anxiety with one piece of advice: eradicate the word “should” from your brain, at least for the next three years.

Continue reading “You Don’t Have to Do It All”

Dear 1Ls: Consider the Clock

Dear Harvard Law School Class of 2019,

Welcome! I want to take my inches here to write to you a bit about Time.

Time is frightening, because we do not have a lot of it. I probably have even less than you, because I drink too much Diet Coke, which I am told is melting my bones. None of us — even those who can live without the delicious taste of a freshly popped can of calorie-free Coca-Cola — has all the time in the world. Our lives therefore are dramatic and exciting. We get to experience the invigorating suspense of making hard choices about what we want to labor for during our brief and precious time here on this Earth.

When we stop and think about Time, we are reminded that we have to, at some point, not keep our options open. We are reminded that we have to, at some point, not prepare for the next thing. Time invites us to join the counterculture of commitment: to abdicate our throne of open options to instead work day in and day out at some project, be it a cause or a creation, a child or a community, for a sustained period of Time. Continue reading “Dear 1Ls: Consider the Clock”