Now That You’re Here, Relax, But Stay Engaged

Welcome to HLS! I’ve been invited to offer a few words of advice, so… [1]

First, relax.

Easier said than done, no doubt. But remember, you are here for good reason. You belong here. It may seem that some of your classmates know more about law or law school than you do. Probably you’re just being hard on yourself. In any event, it’s what you’re all going to be learning that matters.  

Second, focus. Continue reading “Now That You’re Here, Relax, But Stay Engaged”

John Goldberg is a professor of law at Harvard Law School. This fall 2016, he will be teaching torts to Section 4.

Some Useful Things to Know

1. There is a hallway on the second floor of Wasserstein that leads straight into the Hark cafeteria.

It’s on the far right as you face the big window. Not the side with the Milstein rooms, where you got to sit through all those Orientation speeches — the other side.

I am an idiot, and I never speak to anyone, ever, and so I didn’t know this hallway was there for my first nine months at HLS. During those nine months, whenever I was in a second-floor classroom, I had to decide whether I was going to use my two-minute bathroom break to take a piss or dash to the Hark and buy a heap of cookies. Needless to say, I always chose the latter, and my bladder suffered for it.

But though law school sometimes involves hard choices, this doesn’t have to be one of them. The second-floor hallway will cut your cookie-purchasing time in half. There’s even a bathroom on your way back. This thing is basically the Northwest Passage. Continue reading “Some Useful Things to Know”

Brianna Rennix is the editor-in-chief of The Record and a member of the Harvard Law School Class of 2018.

Thinking Like a Lawyer

Congratulations on beginning your legal journey. Here are two important questions to consider as you start your first year of law school: first, what are the costs of learning to think like a lawyer, and second, how can you create a meaningful career for yourself while learning to do so?

The legal community that you are joining faces serious challenges. The statistics are sobering: drinking is a problem for one out of three lawyers, and over thirty-two percent of lawyers under 30 qualify as problem drinkers.[1] A study by the American Bar Association and the Betty Ford Foundation found that 28% of lawyers struggle with depression, 19% reported experiencing anxiety, and 23% said they experience stress.

Continue reading “Thinking Like a Lawyer”

Deborah Beth Medows is a Senior Attorney in the Division of Legal Affairs at the New York State Department of Health. She can be reached at dbmedows@gmail.com.

Talk to Classmates, Professors, Mentors

Dear Class of 2019,

Welcome to Harvard Law School! As you embark on this new academic adventure, we wanted to share a few tidbits of advice. Take a deep breath and get excited for a challenging and rewarding year.

  1. Remember that you know yourself best.

Keep your own study habits and figure out what works best for you. Like study groups? Join one. Prefer to work in your house by yourself? Do it. Don’t let other people’s approach to the first year of law school affect you. There is no right or wrong way to read cases and digest material. What you’ve done to get here will likely serve you best. Continue reading “Talk to Classmates, Professors, Mentors”

Make the Most of Your Library

Welcome, new HLS students! We at your new library are excited that you’re here.

We know you’re probably experiencing information overload right now, so we’ll keep this short and, we hope, whet your appetites to learn more about how the HLS Library can make life as a law student easier for you. Here are some things we think every new HLS student should know about their library.

  1. You can ask us anything.

There’s no such thing as a stupid question at this library. In fact, so-called “stupid questions” often turn out to be the trickiest to answer, while questions you might think are hard turn out to be easy. Continue reading “Make the Most of Your Library”

Meg Kribble is a research librarian and the outreach coordinator at the Harvard Law School Library.

Don’t Forget to Smell the Roses

Dear New Students,

Let us be the 613th people to welcome you to HLS. You are in the first steps of what will be an amazing journey. Drink for the word journey. #TheBachelorette #I’mWithLuke #TheBacheLuke.

As you begin your decorated legal careers, people will be asking you all sorts of challenging questions. Your professors will ask you for the facts and holding of Palsgraf, and your friends and families will be asking you for the definition of a tort. The former we can help you with, the latter … well … we are sure we could find someone to help you out. Continue reading “Don’t Forget to Smell the Roses”

Speak Up

Being cold-called for the first time in class is the biggest fear for most 1Ls. Looking back now, I thought I would remember what questions the professor asked, I thought I would remember my horribly incorrect answer and the embarrassment I would feel. But no, what I remember the most is how my Miami-Cuban accent reverberated through the classroom.

My accent, my voice, did not sound like the voices of my classmates. It was definitely different and it made me realize that I was different. The funny thing is my “accent” is actually non-existent in Miami. I know many people who have much stronger accents back home, and I actually sound “American” in comparison. But here, in Cambridge, I definitely had an accent. Continue reading “Speak Up”

Stephanie Jimenez is a member of the Class of 2017. She is a co-president of La Alianza, an organization of Latinx law students and students interested in issues affecting the Latinx community.

You Don’t Have to Do It All

Congratulations 1Ls and welcome to Harvard Law School!

As you will all soon realize, between its curriculum and extracurricular activities, HLS will be one of the most valuable resources in your life. However, with the multitude of opportunities for student involvement at HLS, there often comes a certain 1L anxiety, a notion that there are certain activities you “should” participate in by mere virtue of your attendance here, especially if other people are doing it as well.

The desire to throw yourself into every single interesting activity you come across is understandable, and we are lucky that HLS has so many attractive offerings. I am here to at least try to alleviate this anxiety with one piece of advice: eradicate the word “should” from your brain, at least for the next three years.

Continue reading “You Don’t Have to Do It All”

Jennifer Marr is a member of the Class of 2018. She is the industry relations chair of the Recording Artists Project, an SPO that aims to provide musicians with free legal counsel.

Dear 1Ls: Consider the Clock

Dear Harvard Law School Class of 2019,

Welcome! I want to take my inches here to write to you a bit about Time.

Time is frightening, because we do not have a lot of it. I probably have even less than you, because I drink too much Diet Coke, which I am told is melting my bones. None of us — even those who can live without the delicious taste of a freshly popped can of calorie-free Coca-Cola — has all the time in the world. Our lives therefore are dramatic and exciting. We get to experience the invigorating suspense of making hard choices about what we want to labor for during our brief and precious time here on this Earth.

When we stop and think about Time, we are reminded that we have to, at some point, not keep our options open. We are reminded that we have to, at some point, not prepare for the next thing. Time invites us to join the counterculture of commitment: to abdicate our throne of open options to instead work day in and day out at some project, be it a cause or a creation, a child or a community, for a sustained period of Time. Continue reading “Dear 1Ls: Consider the Clock”

Pete Davis is a civic reformer from Falls Church, Virginia and a member of the Harvard Law School Class of 2018. Email Pete at Pete@CivicIdeas.org. Tweet at Pete at @PeteDDavis.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

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. Continue reading “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”

Kassi Yukevich is a member of the Class of 2017. She is the president of the Harvard chapter of the American Constitution Society, an organization of progressive lawyers and law students.