The emotions in your first year of law school range from excitement to terror. Excitement that you got in, anxious to start the first day, fear when you take your first exam, relieved when it’s over. The first year of law school (affectionately referred to as 1L) makes everyone a mess of emotions but ultimately the decision to commence on this adventure is one that you won’t regret! Coming into law school can be very daunting. However, if you come in prepared and ready to learn you will soon realize that law school will be a great experience for any student.
Upon entering law school, I had just wrapped up college at an amazing institution. I was confused and scared and yet at the same time eager to learn and excited to start on a new adventure. Everyone that I encountered told me a million times that law school was a mistake. “There are no jobs,” they claimed. “That’s such a waste of money,” they said. I let their voices get inside my head and the first few weeks before school, I seriously considered turning back. What frightened me the most was that I had no idea what to expect. Where do you sit? What if you get called on and have no idea what to say? Do you really have to recite a case in front of the entire class? Wholeheartedly, I look back at the anxiety I harbored and the mental state I was in and realize, now more than ever, that I had no reason to worry or fear.
1L is a learning experience for all and through it each student grows not only intellectually but also as a person. Ultimately, everyone is in the same boat as a 1L student. For the first year, you are divided into sections and have all classes with these people. The people in your section become like a family to you and are willing to help you out in any way possible. Something that I wish I had known during my first year was that if you ask for help (if you don’t understand something, if you have a question about a legal area, etc.) you will receive an answer. Every day in 1L, I was grateful for the friends I made and the professors who helped me along the way. You will spend every day surrounded by intelligent people—your professors and your peers—who will better you with each conversation and challenge you to engage in the legal world.
Your first year, the professors expect you to read and be sure that you’re ready to explain the case. That being said, they understand that you are getting used to the new way and will help you. My biggest fear upon entering law school was that I would be humiliated in class a time or two. However, the professors are not there to make you suffer, they are enthusiastic to teach you what they know and watch you excel as a lawyer. Countless times in class, you will be able to hear a professor bragging on a former student of theirs. They want you to do the best you can and to better yourself and society.
Ultimately, you are walking into a world unknown so nerves are to be expected. Through all of the emotions that come from law school you become a better person, a better student, and a better lawyer. Looking back on the time spent at the University of Houston Law Center as a 1L student, there are no words to describe how accomplished I feel and how excited I am for the future.
Author, Charlotte Coe, recently completed her 1l year at the University of Houston Law Center.