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.
- 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.
You are your first client in a long list of clients that will come throughout your budding careers. At times, this becomes easy to forget in the commotion of trying to stay on top of it all.
Take control over your schedule, take risks, and don’t be scared to be autonomous. Seek out the things that interest you regardless of how different, or motley, those interests may be. That’s the beauty of having all of these resources and experiences at your disposal! Find the groups and the people that help you feel whole, well-rounded, and engaged. It will be well worth it!
- You’ll learn some of your most valuable lessons outside of the classroom.
In an environment like HLS, everyday you will find yourself in a room where what is seemingly obvious to you, is a point of debate for someone else. Everybody has a viewpoint, an opinion, and an experience that informs why they feel the way they do. Take advantage of the conversations in the halls, and around campus. Attend the lunch talks and the Q&As with guest speakers. It doesn’t take much to have a profound moment of intellectual growth.
Contracts, torts, criminal law, and civil procedure are going to be very similar no matter where you go to law school. The people around you are what make this experience in Cambridge special.
- Take care of yourself: eat, sleep (!), exercise, laugh.
This one is actually harder than it sounds because, as you’ll soon see, 1L requires So. Much. Reading. That said, the only thing worse than the amount of reading during 1L is returning home and physically looking as though school owned you and not the other way around.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Go to the gym, don’t let too much coffee curb your appetite, don’t feel guilty for needing sleep, and most importantly, keep a sense of humor. Make time to still be a person. Trust me, it’s a good investment.
- Keep things in perspective.
During my final class of 1L, Professor Jody Freeman closed class with a profound and personal reminder to us about the road ahead.
She said, “You are at the best school at the best university in the wealthiest country in the world. Your ‘problems’ aren’t like other problems. You have opportunity. It is all going to be alright.”
Her words embodied what we all knew to be true: it is so easy to lose sight of where we are, what we’re doing and what really matters. And, instead of hearing this at the close of your 1L, it is important for you to keep that in your mind from the start.
Take the time you need to keep things in perspective. Maintaining that perspective is the most valuable thing you can do for yourselves over the next three years because, before you know it, you’ll be offering your own advice to 1Ls.
See you on the other side!
This piece was a part of the 2016 orientation issue. To read more, click here.