Welcome to Harvard Law School! My name is Kassi Yukevich and I am the President of the Harvard Law School chapter of the American Constitution Society, more commonly known as ACS.
I’m sure that you have been overwhelmed with advice already, but I have three more pieces of advice that I hope will help you during your time at Harvard. First, take the time to find your people. Second, make sure that you have a life outside of Harvard Law School. Third, remember that with great power comes great responsibility.
Find Your People
When I moved to Cambridge, I brought a lot of things with me. I brought goofy family photos, letters from my old students, the warmest coat I could find, and, like so many other students, I brought a serious case of imposter syndrome. I distinctly remember bringing my admission letter with me to orientation, just in case my nametag wasn’t there. I thought it would be helpful to have physical proof that I belonged at Harvard Law School, just in case anyone asked.
When I say find your people, I mean find the people that you are comfortable telling your most ridiculous fears to. Find the people who also refuse to hide their love for country music. Find the people that, after a few glasses of wine, will tell you it’s a great idea for you to spend every dollar in your savings account on Hamilton tickets, but will not let you actually go through with that purchase.
My third week at Harvard, I was lucky to receive one of the few remaining positions left on the ACS Board. I was immediately inspired by the passion that ACS members have for progressive causes. Through ACS, I found my people. I found friends who were ready to debate the legal nuances of the Obama Administration’s immigration policy and then binge watch an entire season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. As soon as I found my people, my imposter syndrome disappeared.
The best thing about Harvard Law School is how wonderful the student body is. I’ve met so many lifelong friends here.
Get to know everyone in your section and meet as many people as you can outside of your section. Join every organization that sounds interesting to you. Go to every social event and mixer that you hear about. Join a student practice organization. Never pay for lunch — always go to a lunch event.
It can take some time to find your people, but you will. And once you do, I promise that Harvard will feel like home.
Have A Life Outside of Law School
It can be easy to spend most of your time within three blocks of campus, but do your best to get out of Cambridge as much as you can. For a city with so many smart people, there is an astonishing lack of comfortable coffee shops in Cambridge. Somerville and Boston have some great ones. Almost every Saturday you can find me working at Render Coffee or The Thinking Cup in Boston.
Also, make sure you are finding time to do things that you love. I go to Flywheel and SoulCycle like it’s my job. I’ve also made it halfway through my Boston Bar and Restaurant Bucket List thanks in large part to outings with friends that I made through my involvement in ACS. I’ve made it to almost every decent oyster bar in Boston, which, in my humble opinion, is quite the accomplishment. I promise that you have enough time to do fun things. You just have to let yourself take the time.
Make sure that you continue to nurture your relationships with people outside of law school. You have a family who loves you. You have friends who think that a tort is a dessert and that the rule against perpetuities is something they learned in calculus class. Call those people. Spend time with those people. When you need a break from law school — and you will need a break — they will be there for you.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
The mission of Harvard Law School is to “educate leaders who contribute to the advancement of justice and the well-being of society.” In three short years, you will graduate with one of the most valuable degrees in the world. Your degree from Harvard Law School will amplify your voice. You will have the power to be an advocate for people whose voices have long been ignored or taken from them all together.
I know it might not feel like it yet, but your position as a Harvard Law School student has already given you a great amount of power, influence, and access. I urge you to think critically throughout your time at Harvard about how you will contribute to the advancement of equality both inside and outside the justice system. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.
This piece was a part of the 2016 orientation issue. To read more, click here.