Dear My 1L Self- this is going to change your life.

This week, we’ve got a very special “Dear My 1L Self.” You know, the classic series where Law Librarians, Upper-class Law Students, and other former 1Ls write actual, time-traveling letters to their 1L selves, giving them that priceless quality of advice that can only result from hindsight. Of course, our one true hope is that some of this advice will also helpful in the here and now, for current 1Ls. In today’s installment, we also get some fond nostalgic insights into everyone’s favorite law school from Leila Lawlor, Director of the Academic Success and LL.M. programs (and GSU J.D. holder)…

Dear 1L Leila, 


I have so much to tell you, but I will try to make this somewhat quick because I know you have a lot going on—fulltime job, family, and LAW SCHOOL AT NIGHT! I know you love it at the College of Law. It may seem kind of uncool to love law school, but it’s okay by me. Here’s a secret for you, 1L Leila. You are going to end up working at the COL someday!! It really is your happy place, isn’t it? 


So, 1L Leila, continue to work as hard as you feasibly can, but remember to keep life balanced! The hard work really will pay off. The COL is going to change your life. After law school graduation, you can quit your current job (the one that is not a great fit for you). You are going to be challenged intellectually in ways you can’t imagine. Here’s something that will blow you away: some of your professors will become LIFELONG friends! You didn’t see that one coming, did you? And here’s another piece of wonderful news: someday, when you work at the COL, some of your students will also become enduring friends, long past their graduation. 

So, 1L self, enjoy the 1L experience. Enjoy the classmates around you. See the picture below? Several of your classmates in that picture from 1993 will still be your best friends in the whole world 28 years later! That photo was taken in the old law school building (the COL will get a new building in 2015). You are in the middle of the photo, standing up, and yep, you are pregnant. I know you think you have a lot going on in your 1L year, but you have no idea how much you will have going on when that baby arrives in your 2L year. Trust me, 1L Leila, you will get through it. You will thrive because of support you have at the College of Law. You have my word. 

Note: There are NO laptop computers in the room! That’ll change soon. And the soft drink in the pink can (Tab) will soon be replaced with something called Diet Coke!


And here you are at your hooding in a couple of years, 1L Leila! See, you are going to make it through this!

Best wishes,

Leila

Dear My 1L Self- You Are in the Right Place

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post another exciting installment of “Dear My 1L Self.” In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Law Students, and other interesting folks write actual, time-traveling letters to their 1L selves, giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law. We hope that some of this advice will be helpful for our readers. Today, we get to hear from Terrance Manion, our Discovery & Research Services Librarian and a GSU Law graduate…

Dear 1L Terrance,

I want to offer you a couple of words of encouragement and reassurance as you begin your law school career.

Law school is a challenge, yes, and attending the part-time evening program at Georgia State Law while working full time is a truly unique challenge. The program is a marathon that runs for four to five years, depending on whether you take your summers off. Pace yourself and do not count the hours until nearing the end (particularly after that second calendar year). Take comfort in the following:

First, Georgia State Law is dedicated to the part-time evening program being as academically rigorous and meaningful as its full-time day program. It is not a satellite program taught by adjuncts or a less ambitious program as some part-time law programs seem to be. It will be the same curriculum. All Georgia State Law faculty will teach in the evening program. All of the college’s educational opportunities (Law Review, Moot Court, experiential learning, study abroad, etc.) are accessible to evening students, albeit you may need to prioritize which opportunities are most important to you. Take confidence that you will be on equal footing at graduation with your full-time counterparts, if not better because you have actual life and work experience, right?

Dear My 1L Self- You Are in the Right Place

Second, in the part-time evening program, you will not find professional students but student professionals, each facing the same challenges you are facing. They are juggling jobs, classes, personal lives, and copious amounts of reading and outlining. Their days start when they get to their jobs in the morning and do not end until classes wrap up around 9 PM (and 10 PM when you take evidence). They commute home (sometimes making a stop at a bar) knowing they will do it all over again tomorrow. They have the same anxieties about managing their time and energy. They have the same questions about whether they still have the intellectual stamina and aptitude for learning. They, too, have been out of school for a couple of years, if not longer. Because of this shared starting point (and the fact they will be in all your classes for two years), there is an inherent camaraderie in the part-time evening program. You will learn soon enough that your fellow students are not your competition. They are your safety net. They are your foundation. You will look after each other. They will become some of your closest friends and remain a resource and support network for the rest of your career.

Former GSU Law Library Director (& Associate Dean) Nancy P. Johnson

Third, you are incredibly fortunate, and I am not talking about having the most manageable commute from your office in the law library to the classroom. You have a mentor and boss in Nancy Johnson that also navigated the part-time evening program at Georgia State Law. At the very least, she will offer a little misery-loves-company, but you know she never does the very least. She will be your advisor, cheerleader, coach, sounding board, counselor, and yes, teacher. You will take her class, and you will not get the highest grade in that class. It will haunt you the rest of your days; however, knowing your study partner, good friend, and fellow part-time evening student got the highest grade makes it a little more bearable. She’ll have you teaching the class in the a year or so anyway.

Nancy will provide the space and support foundation for you to be successful, both in the part-time evening program and at your day job. While not all of our part-time evening students are fortunate enough to have a mentor of Nancy’s caliber, I’m nonetheless confident that the support of their friends, colleagues, teachers, and librarians will be a defining feature of their success.

In short, you are part of this community, you can do this, and you found the right place to do it.


Librarian Manion

P.S. While in law school keep a list of the books you want to read for your own enjoyment. You do not get much time to read recreationally in law school but when you graduate, you will go on a reading binge like at no other point in your life. Have the list ready.

Dear My 1L Self- Do Not Believe Them.

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post another exciting installment of “Dear My 1L Self.” In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Law Students, and other interesting folks write actual, time-traveling letters to their 1L selves, giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law. We hope that some of this advice will be helpful for our readers. Today, we’ve got an inspiring message from Class of ’19 Grad (and Seyfarth Shaw Associate) Zain Haq…

Dear 1L Zain:

Don’t believe everything law school tells you. Well…okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is still generally pretty good advice. Throughout your three years in law school, a big to-do will be made about the “right” or “proper” path to take in order to end up where you want to be. Your future self is here to remind you about the old cliché: There is no one path to success.

Not that your future self is per se successful yet (sorry to disappoint). BUT, you are striving for it. And, if I may be so bold, you’re well on your way. But you’ll realize throughout your journey that despite what you hear in law school, there are SO MANY ways to get to where you want to go.

Over the next three years, you’ll probably hear that in order to work for certain firms, you’ll have to participate in specific law school activities. Wrong. You’ll also probably hear that, in order to prepare yourself well for your first year of practice, you’ll have to summer at certain places. Also wrong. While the traditional paths law school talks about may work well for some people, it is not the only way to get to where you want to go. And, let’s face it, doing things the old-fashioned way has never really been your style.

Dear My 1L Self- Do Not Believe Them.

Here’s my advice to you, young grasshopper: keep an open mind and listen to the advice law school gives you. It is good advice. But, spoiler alert, there is more than one right way of doing things, and you won’t follow the route law school lays out for you. And that is okay. Try new things, be open minded, and go after new experiences because they sound interesting and will make you happy, not because they promise a certain end result. At the end of the day, do it your way (cue Frank Sinatra).

Zain