Be Yourself and Find Your Voice

The best pieces of advice for “surviving” 1L is 1) do not feel like you have to follow the herd and 2) stay in tune with yourself.

To the first, there will be masses of first years (and second and third years) headed in the same direction, sometimes with the encouragement of faculty and advisors. You do not have to blindly follow them. You are a valuable person who is here for a reason, and whatever that reason may be, you have lived and have experienced, and you know better than anybody else how to be the best you can be this year.

Though it may be hard to resist, trust yourself; you knew how to get here and you will know how to navigate through the next three years. We will admit, 1L is in many ways the legal profession’s very own hazing (along with the bar). Yet, you may be surprised to know that 1L is shockingly similar to any other year of your life: it will have its ups and downs, it will be both hard and fulfilling, and it will challenge you in ways you did not and could not anticipate. Throughout this year, do what you need to do to check in with yourself so that you don’t get swept up in the overwhelming amount of everything.

To the second, finding your voice in law school is perhaps the true challenge of 1L. Don’t be disconcerted the first time a professor asks you to give your opinion of a case’s outcome, or when you hear a classmate say something that’s completely contrary to your sense of your justice.

Listen sometimes, speak others, and never stop questioning. Find the people and environments that encourage you, even if that means looking outside of your section. Take time to remind yourself why you are here, and remember to step outside of the bubble as needed. 1L, and HLS by extension, is not merely a matter of survival; you can indeed thrive here. The key is often simply taking the to reflect on who you are, what brought you here, and what it is that works for you.

Dalia Deak and Niku Jafarnia are 2Ls. They are the co-presidents of the Middle Eastern Law Students Association.

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