[ Makenzie Way, 3L at the University of Pennsylvania ]
Today, I attended my last law school class, and it finally hit me: after next week, I will no longer be a law student. The realization is bittersweet: I’m ready to be finished with law school, I’m ready to start the next chapter of my life; but I’ll also miss my friends … the familiarity of it all … my campus.
You might say I’ve been feeling a little sentimental these past few days, so it only seemed fitting to take you down memory lane with me. As a 1L it can be hard to look past the intensity of the coursework and the grading curve, but as a 3L I’m able to look back over my three years and see all the good that I have experienced. So, without further delay, here are my highlights.
All the Orientation Events:
I’ve always found orientation programming to be awkward and somewhat unnecessary. I’m an introvert, so I’m not a huge fan of mingling with strangers – the feeling held true during my law school orientation. That said, looking back at it, I’m really appreciative that my law school made attendance at orientation mandatory because the bulk of my close friendships were formed at orientation.
I studied abroad during my 3L fall semester, so I only attended two barrister ball events during my time as a law student, but they were still amazing. The event itself may have been somewhat disappointing – I always picture Gatsby, but let’s be real, no school can afford to throw a party like that. But the opportunity to see my classmates outside of the classroom, all dolled up with their significant others, and ready to socialize in a non-oppressive setting, was truly refreshing, especially as a 1L.
Receiving 1L Grades:
An odd one right? Usually, when law students think back to 1L exams their thoughts are filled with dread, and trust me, mine are too. But, I also remember that glorious moment when I pressed submit on my final exam of 1L. I remember the minute I received my final grade of 1L and realized that I’d actually done it; I had survived 1L. For me, I don’t think I really believed that I had what it takes to succeed in law school until I saw those little letters on my transcript.
Joining the Hockey Team:
Law school isn’t necessarily seen as a ‘sporty’ place, but the world is what you make it. Sports have always encompassed a huge part of my routine, I’ve been a competitive hockey player since I learned how to walk. I was recruited to play for the Penn Women’s ice hockey team in November of my 1L year, and it was a blessing. The smell of a hockey rink in the wee hours of the morning has an insane calming effect on me (maybe it’s a Canadian thing); practices and games became my therapy and helped me keep my head on straight.
My 1L Summer Job:
I LOVED my 1L job – like seriously, I loved the people, I loved the work, I loved the clients … I just really, really loved it. I had worked in legal settings before, but this job really solidified that I had made the right career choice.
With the exception of 3L, which was filled with the uncertainty of COVID-19, my spring breaks have been absolutely fantastic. During 1L I attended a conference in Tokyo, Japan, with a small group of law students. Not only did this give me a chance to further explore one of my favorite cities in the world, but I also made international friendships that have lasted well beyond that one week. Likewise, in 2L, I participated in I-trek with a group of Penn Law students – it was honestly one of the best weeks of my life. I highly recommend taking at least one programmed spring break during your time as a law student.
If your university participates in the infamous softball tournament at UVA, go to it. It doesn’t matter if your athletic, or if you’ve never held a baseball bat before in your life … well, maybe it does if your school participates competitively. I am admittedly terrible at softball (yes dad, I finally admit it), BUT the softball tournament is so much more than what happens on the field. In reality it’s one big party for law students from across the country.
My 2L Summer Associateship:
After loving my 1L summer in public interest so much, I was somewhat worried that I wouldn’t fit in well at my big law firm; thankfully, I was wrong. When I pictured my career as a lawyer, I pictured myself practicing in big law; it felt amazing to have that dream come true. I accepted my offer for post-graduation, but even if you don’t, there’s no denying that the summer programming in big law is superb. You’ll gain at least ten pounds from all the food and alcohol, but they more than makeup for that by planning extravagant outings.
3L Study Abroad:
If there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I live to travel. If I could get paid to just travel the world and explore new cultures, I would throw my law degree to the wind. In fact, part of the reason I wanted to become a lawyer in the first place was the flexibility the career offered in terms of traveling (in big law, we have offices all over the globe, and we get opportunities to visit those offices from time-to-time. Plus, US law degrees are transferable, meaning you can seek entry into a range of countries after a few years of practice). Taking that into consideration, it should come as no surprise that spending the fall semester of my 3L year in London filled me with insurmountable joy.
It hasn’t happened yet, but call my psychic because I know my graduation (the real in-person one, not the virtual slideshow) is going to be the topper on the cake that is law school.
What have your highlights been so far? Let me know on Instagram!