Welcome to Harvard Law School! My name is Douglas Colby, and I am the VP of Membership for the Harvard Federalist Society. We are a group of conservatives, moderates, and libertarians who seek to provide respectful, open, and challenging debate at HLS. Additionally, we offer mentorship, academic and career support, and a strong community.
I want to congratulate you on coming to HLS. While you are probably just starting your legal career, arriving at this point is the culmination of years of effort. You have also enjoyed the help of mentors, friends, and family along the way (and more than a little luck). So in addition to taking the time to celebrate and enjoy your achievement, it is worth commencing your time here with a sense of gratitude.
I also want to offer a few pieces of advice as you begin your time in law school. First, seek out informal mentors, 2Ls and 3Ls who will give you honest, personal advice. From hints on picking classes and studying to tips on where to eat, mentors will provide you with advice that can help you do you flourish here. Personally, I found mentors both within and outside of FedSoc, and their advice was invaluable and helped me do my best in school, find jobs, etc. But it was also comforting to know that people outside of the formal law school structures and programs cared about me and were willing to offer support.
Second, be deliberate in caring for yourself. Proactively spend time with friends: you are surrounded by some truly incredible folks who will enhance your enjoyment of your time here and who will become life-long friends and colleagues. Take the time to do the things you love. You will work hard, but there is time to exercise, to pray or meditate, to read for pleasure, and to watch Netflix. Reflect on what relaxes you and gives you joy, and take the time to do these things. You will likely find that you are more efficient and focused after you have stepped away from your work.
Third, challenge yourself with new ideas. Do not only surround yourself with those who hold your opinions and views. The legal profession rewards those who can see all sides of an issue: in practice, you will be better able to anticipate and fully grasp opposing arguments. Deliberately stepping outside your comfort zone and seeking new ideas will help you grow personally and professionally. The opportunities are ample: nearly every day, there is a wide array of speakers here, and lunch is usually included.
There is so much more I could say, but you are probably receiving more advice than you want right now. I am so excited for you as you start this challenging, intimidating, yet wonderful year. And if you would like to chat, or if I can be helpful in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.