Welcome to HLS! My name is Radhe Patel and I am Vice President of the Harvard Law School chapter of the American Constitution Society, or ACS. We are a community of progressive lawyers founded on the principle that the law should be a force to promote equality, access to justice, and improve the lives of all people.
I remember finding it hard to sift through all of the advice that was getting thrown at me at orientation without really having a full idea about what the heck was really about to happen in the coming year. To a large extent a lot it is just doing the thing—there are so many different ways to be successful and happy here, and so many resources that will be available to help you do it. Here are 3 things to think about during the ride.
Think about what it means to be here, and what it means to be here in this moment
Your FULL TIME JOB for the next three years is read, write, think, and connect with interesting peers who have been selected from all over the world and to be here alongside you so you can meet and build cool things—new organizations, novel legal theories, sweeping social movements!— in and out of the classroom. Whether you plan to be a corporate partner or the United States President after this, that is a gift. Don’t waste it.
Your interests (and maybe even hopes and dreams) are going to evolve so much this year as you take that class with a professor that clicks, work with your first SPO client, or attend a lunch talk about a new topic that resonates with you. Remember to be present and open to those experiences impacting you.
Do Random Crap Every Now and Then
This is an easy way to operationalize point one! You are not going to remember what class you skipped the section fall break trip to outline for in 10 years. But you will remember the bestie you met going candlepin bowling or the inspiring talk you saw at the Kennedy School when you left the law school bubble and engaged with the broader community available here. Go do that.
Connect with passionate people, take time to learn from section mates who disagree with you, go protest things in Boston with our generation’s changemakers (that’s you!). The books will be here when you get back.
Remember that the Hard Part is Over
You might be doubtful about 1 and 2 if you believe that 1L grades are the only things that make or break your access to opportunities, or if you’ve heard that the later HLS years are when you’re ‘supposed’ to get involved and have more fun. Fight that feeling.
You’re already here, and that comes with the ability to get almost anywhere you want (!!). You driven, smart cookies are now armed with the institution and network to make any dream a reality—it may not happen on the first try, or exactly when you want it to happen, but it will. Use the knowledge of that reality to ground you when the going gets rough and things feel dark. To some extent, pressure’s off.
Good luck this year! Hold fast and enjoy the ride.