You Belong at HLS

Greetings Class of 2021, On behalf of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), I would like to warmly welcome you all to Harvard Law School! Law school is a rewarding experience, but it can sometimes be challenging to navigate. Below are a few tips to keep in mind that just might make this first year a little easier to manage.

  1. You belong here. Imposter syndrome affects many students at Ivy League institutions, and can be especially acute at HLS. For many of you, the instruction style, workload, and academic requirements will be markedly different from anything you’ve encountered in the past. For many, it’ll take a little experimentation and patience to find your rhythm in this new and exciting environment. It takes time to adjust–and that’s okay! Whenever the pressure mounts (and trust me, it can creep up on you), take a moment to recall that you were each chosen to be here. Out of all of the people who applied, HLS handpicked you! The institution, and BLSA alike, believes in your ability to succeed, if not excel. As cliché as it sounds, have faith in yourself!
  1. Don’t be afraid to forge your own path. Social pressures, comfort, and, perhaps, uncertainty make it easy to fall into group patterns and lose sight of your initial plans at the university. What drove you apply to Harvard? What future did you imagine for yourself? HLS provides the freedom to forge your own path–and I encourage you to think through how you spend your short time in Cambridge. From studying abroad, to participating in Parody, from a career in corporate law to work as a public defender, HLS affords an incredible array of academic, professional, and extracurricular activities to enjoy. Capitalize on them! Enjoy them! Don’t be afraid to be true to yourself!
  1. Have fun! 1L may not be a cakewalk, but it’s memorable, exhilarating, and, to put it simply, fun. Do your best to carve out a decent chunk of time for self-care. During my first year, I joined BLSA’s 1L committee, planning social events for first year BLSA students. This decision brought incredible people into my life, including those from outside my own section. How do you think you’ll spend your free time? Maybe you’ll take a Zumba class at Hemenway. Perhaps you’ll swing by BerryLine with sectionmates for some raspberry froyo with gummy bears. Whatever you do, do it consistently. And I mean that. However hectic the week feels, however much reading you’ve been assigned, self-care will ensure that your mind and body stay fresh!

I hope you find these three points helpful as you begin 1L year. If you have any questions about the above list, BLSA, or HLS in general, feel free to contact me at lwilliams@jd19.law.harvard.edu.

Lauren Williams

Lauren Williams is a 3L. She is the president of the Black Law Students Association.

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