I thought it would be interesting to keep following along with the ladies who shared their law school admissions process journeys. If you haven’t read about the law school admissions process be sure to check out four perspectives: Evelyn, Sam, Carina and Camille. Today, Evelyn is here to give you an update on her first 8 weeks of law school. Each of us are attending different institutions, both literally and on a more methodical level. Each of our schools promote different things, focus on different things, and have slight variations to how and when we get our 1L curriculum. So, that being said let’s hear about how Santa Clara Law is treating one of my close friends, the beautiful Evelyn!
“It is the beginning of October, and I am officially eight weeks into law school! I cannot adequately describe how my experience at Santa Clara Law is going because it doesn’t seem like I’ll really know how I’m feeling until the semester is over. Nonetheless, here is my best attempt at reflecting on the start to my career as a law student.
Everyone tells you law school is difficult. They say it’s a really rough time, so take the summer prior off, or even take a year off. They say you’ll be busy all the time, that the reading is intense, and that you always have to be “on” in the classroom.
I did not realize that all of this information would be true. Everyone said undergrad would be difficult, and it ended up being, quite frankly, not all that hard – just a lot of work. I figured law school couldn’t be that different, that I would put in the effort and see the results I wanted. I was very wrong. The line of work is completely foreign to what I had done prior to law school, and learning a new way to think and work takes a lot of time and practice. I have found it most frustrating when I read diligently and study consistently only to truly not know how I performed on my one and only midterm of the semester. The added difficulty, too, is the fact that everyone is in the same position. While this is usually mentioned comfortingly, I think it’s the reason law school is hard. Yes, everyone is learning the same things you are for the first time, but everyone, too, was likely a top-notch student prior to law school. Stick the best of the best in a single school with higher stakes, and it’s bound to get competitive; at the very least, it gets tense at times.
I do not mean all of this to say that law school is negative; rather, I mention it all first because I think, overall, law school has been a culture shock for me in a way that I did not expect and is something I wish I anticipated going in. I came straight from a small liberal arts undergraduate experience, where everyone went to the same bar on Wednesday evenings and senior year was spent more with friends than with books. There is something very unique and memorable about your alma mater, and it has the potential to hold a special place in your heart because it’s the one time you’re surrounded by people your age doing different things that will inch them closer to their life goal. Law school sharply contrasts – your work is very much done on your own with the mindset of competing for grades and jobs with your classmates. There is more of a sense of urgency here, and that could be the nature of the time and place in our lives of law students. We have three more years of school and one last standardized test that keeps us from a prestigious job of our dreams – so close, yet so far. There are tons of moments of solidarity and comradery, but that comes after you’ve positioned yourself well in the class setting, which is easier said than done. Working harder than ever before paired with the culture difference of a professional school stressed me out. I am still stressed out when I think about my finals and the prospect of the curve. But I find myself these past few weeks enjoying myself in the classroom and making more of an effort to hang out with other students, and I know I’m in the right place.
It’s hard to get involved as a 1L because your biggest focus is school, but I’ve found many individuals and groups who have helped me feel like I belong. I have joined clubs like Middle Eastern Law Students Society, Law & Business Society, Women & Law, and many others. Going to events is the extent to my contribution to these groups, but they help me place context in my work and remind me of why I chose law school in the first place. Most helpful, I believe, are the 2Ls and 3Ls who volunteer their time and effort to coach 1Ls. I have mentors through Women & Law and the Middle Eastern Law Students Society who meet with me regularly to check in with me, assure me that I’m studying well, and give me tips on what to do next. There is also a small advising group every 1L is a part of at SCU, and my “leader” has been extremely useful. She acts as someone we can rant to when we’re stressed, show our coursework as we complete it, and consult for professional advice. I appreciate the culture at SCU to help when you can, and I look forward to participating in it myself as I continue on.
Lastly, as cheesy as it sounds, my friends and family have gotten me through these past two months. I joke that I don’t have a life in law school, but it’s more that I need to plan my schedule very carefully to include the fun things I want to do. Going home, I end up studying half the time, but at least I can spend the other half enjoying my sister’s birthday party, having dinner with my parents, exploring the Bay Area I love so dearly with my better half, and hanging out with my friends who remain local. Forcing myself out of the law school bubble allows me to truly relax when I need to. Even the people in my life who aren’t local but are off doing new things help keep me sane. We keep each other updated when we can, just as much as my friends who stayed in-state, and seeing them in the winter is one more thing to look forward to.
I am no expert on the law school experience, but I’m hoping I can speak with more confidence come January. If anyone is interested in Santa Clara, please feel free to reach out!”
If you’re interested in Santa Clara, please send me an email and I will forward your information to Evelyn. She will offer great insight and advice.