Law school is one of the most demanding academic challenges that a student can face. Reading dozens of pages to prepare for class, learning a new way of critically thinking and carefully writing, searching for valuable work experience, and establishing relationships with fellow students and professors require lots of time and attention. When thinking about my own law school experience, as well as my experiences with students to date, there are a few key themes that seem crucial to success:
I loved law school. I had great teachers, I made great friends, I was challenged daily with the material we learned in class, and (most importantly) I met my wife. It was a glorious time. And to all of the 1Ls, you’re in for the time of your life.
To help you through your journey over the next three or four years, I’d like to share some tips and words of wisdom that I wish I had when I was in your shoes.
Every great law school fosters an environment where students are allowed to pick a side and argue their position. However, one thing that remains constant in the minds of every law student is that the rigor of law school can be a lot to balance. Whether it be juggling class readings, moot court, work, family, or other commitments, the load can often times feel insurmountable.
So why would I suggest adding the SBA to the mix? The answer is simple.
I encourage my law students to notice what successful law students do and to adopt these behaviors. Savvy learners realize that professors want you to succeed. Professors use a class syllabus and class policies to guide you toward success. Early on in each course, note the professor’s office hours and best contact method. Why? The professor is inviting you to engage with the material outside of class time—take advantage of this invitation.
Imagine this scenario. You read all of the assigned cases for Contracts, highlighted the parts that seem important in different colors, and even skimmed the notes and questions following the cases. That means you are prepared to effectively participate in class, right? Not quite.
Lawyers are leaders, whether in the courtroom, the boardroom, or on the political stage. But being an effective lawyer requires more than a mastery of legal terminology and knowledge of the intricacies of our justice system. It requires keen leadership, expert acumen, and strength of judgment. It requires the ability to fashion a vision for the bigger picture and, more importantly, the ability to create a desire in others to adopt that vision. And yet studies show that lawyers lack the critical leadership skills that are necessary for success, including stepping out of established comfort zones, embracing collaboration, and cultivating empathy.
The Leadership Fellows Program seeks to change that by providing law students with a unique opportunity to develop effective leadership skills.
I raise my hand a lot in class. The unwritten rule of law school is to avoid being called on at all costs— and here I am voluntarily subjecting myself to scrutiny— so it earns me a lot of strange looks. But it’s actually immensely important to me because it’s important to me to take up space— not physical space, but metaphorical space. I will be heard because I belong here.
I am conscious that women, especially women of color, aren’t expected to talk as much in professional settings. I am conscious when I look around me that there isn’t a single other person who looks like me in the classroom. I am conscious of the expectation that I— as a Brown, Muslim, hijabi, woman of color who is a child of immigrants and a first generation college student— don’t belong in the legal profession.
More than that, when I raise my hand, I am conscious that that expectation almost kept me from applying to law school in the first place.
Topics: Student Life
Celebrating diversity in the legal profession and in our lives in general is something we should all strive to do. As a result of this endeavor, we will eventually find ourselves in a discussion about a sensitive subject that we may find uncomfortable. When that happens, try not to let the uncomfortableness sideline the discussion! Below are some strategies you can use to make a conversation about an important or difficult topic a little bit easier.
The start of a new year and a new semester gives you a do-over – the opportunity for a fresh start. Here are five resolutions to consider for the year ahead:
To my Seton Hall Law School family…
“And the Word became flesh. and made his dwelling among us,. and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). For Christians around the world, Christmas means that God, the Source and Sustainer of all that exists, in a radical act of self-emptying, establishes an irrevocable personal presence in creation through Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One.
Topics: Student Life