A few thoughts on Orientation

The months before you begin your first year of law school are truly a unique time. These weeks are a veritable swirl of complicated (and, at times, conflicting) emotions. You are intermittently excited, nervous, expectant, anxious, uncertain, anxious, excited. I can barely remember these months. I think I was just happy when Orientation finally rolled around.

I’ve always felt that the most common source of anxiety for incoming 1Ls is the figment that you are somehow less prepared than your peers for the challenges, the work and the inevitable stress of the first year. As you contemplate the coming weeks, you imagine everyone else already knows how to brief a case, how to study, how to write a perfect law school exam, and that you are somehow incredibly and irreversibly behind.

Of course, this is not the case. Some people may have been given a few tips from friends or family members, but for every single person in your class, the first day of law school will be their first day as a law student. Throughout this year, your classmates will experience similar challenges and similar struggles, similar joys and similar triumphs, but all will have to find the habits, methods and approaches that work best for them as they attempt to manage the considerable workload of a first year law student.

At W&L Law, you have a tremendous amount of support as you move forward throughout this year. We believe that when you enter our law school, you are joining a community, and the considerable amount and variety of support available to you from your earliest moments on campus (from faculty, administration, upper-level students and your peers) are great examples of this communal spirit in action. There are just so many people who truly care about how you’re doing, and we think this concern is reflective of a certain collegiality that makes our law school what it is. As we often comment, it’s very hard to be anonymous here, and that’s a good thing.

I have now been around our law school for five Orientations, and each year, I am impressed by the volume of programming intended to help prepare our newest students for the challenges they will face during their first year of law school. However, at W&L Law, it is nice to know that this support does not stop at Orientation. Thanks to the Kirgis Fellows program, it continues throughout your first year.

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