By Greg ’16
Welcome to NUSL! Two years ago, I was in your shoes, gazing into that same metal box in the locker room, slightly overwhelmed but excited to start this new adventure. So take it from me: not only will you survive this, but you will thrive. You are going to love it here.
Let me tell you what’s in store over the next three years. You will work – maybe harder than you’ve ever worked before. You will feel lost, like you’re the only one who doesn’t get it (trust me, though – you’ll be wrong). You will discover your greatest strengths, your greatest weaknesses, what you love doing, and what you hate doing. You will change and you will grow. You will be beaten down, and you will learn to pick yourself back up. Along the way, you will gain the tools to quite literally change the world.
I’m sure by this point you’ve heard the usual advice about how to “survive” law school. Take it from someone who’s been living the unique NUSL experience, though – this place isn’t like other schools. We cooperate. We look out for each other. Some of us even enjoy law school. So here are the essential NUSL survival tips that you won’t find in any guidebook:
Make friends. I’m not always a “people person,” but early on, I decided to try getting to know my classmates anyway. It was one of the best decisions of my life. The friendships I made transformed this place into my second home. Remember, you’re not alone in this – everyone around you is struggling with the same stuff.
Walk through Dockser Commons every Wednesday. This is extremely important – there will be a veritable cornucopia of free highlighters, free books, and free candy. Take these free things. Free things are valuable in law school. Except free pizza. Avoid free pizza.
Read. There’s nothing more terrifying than trying to explain a case you haven’t read to a room full of friends and colleagues. Always read majority opinions. You can sometimes skip dissents. You can often skip concurrences. You can almost always skip notes and footnotes – except in Con Law. But don’t worry about Con Law now. When it arrives, you’ll be ready.
You will be cold called and you will blow it. Don’t let this discourage you – it happens to all of us. In the end, it won’t matter. You are not the “worst law student ever.”
You won’t understand most of Civil Procedure. No one does. This is normal. Don’t worry about it. It will come together before the final. I promise.
Legal Research & Writing is the most important class you’ll take all year. It’s a ton of work and you’ll hate it, but it will pay off. Take it seriously and it will make a huge difference in your writing. Writing is a lawyer’s most powerful weapon.
Cherish your LO (Law Office). You are going get to know those guys better than you know yourself. They will become some of your best friends. For me, the connections I made with members of my LO made me feel like I belonged here. You may not be as lucky, but don’t pass up the opportunity – you’ll be missing out on some fantastic people.
Most importantly, take advantage of this place. Your journey will be whatever you make of it. You’re entering a rich and endlessly varied field of study. If you already know your legal passion, you now have the opportunity to dive into it as deeply as you can. If you’re like me and you’re equally fascinated by everything, you have the chance to explore it all. You, too, will find your niche.
So enjoy these next three years. Some days you’ll wonder why it’s going by so slowly, but before long you’ll be amazed that it’s already over.
And take care of that locker. You never know who might be standing in front of it next year.