How to navigate expectations and friendships during 1L year


GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin,
1L at University of Arizona

How do you navigate your expectations and 1L friendships? Good question. Law school is an interesting balance of camaraderie and competition. As 1Ls we automatically have an innate bond with each other.  We are all plunged into the unknown, with mountains of reading, and briefing cases. Also, we’re holding our breath to see if it is our name being cold called next.

It can be easy to overlook that we are all experiencing these things together. As we manage our own performance expectations, goals, and future outcomes, we are competing at some level for grades, class ranking and ultimately jobs. This is the conundrum of law school.

Today, I would like to share with you three philosophy’s I have embraced that might help you navigate your expectations and 1L friendships.

“A rising tide will lift all boats.”

I am an extremely helpful person, sometimes it feels, to my own detriment. Before school, I sought advice from one of my respected friends to gain perspective about this. He wisely reminded me that “A rising tide will lift all boats.” This really resonated with me and framed the way I’ve chosen to approach law school. When I see help is needed, I am going to provide it (while still adhering to the honor code). I have already benefited from this as my willingness to help others in areas I excel has been repaid in-kind, as classmates help me in areas I have been struggling with. We can help each other, without undermining our own goals and success.

“Make Friends, Not Enemies”

Before school started, we had an opportunity to attend a writing clinic, and while all of the information shared was helpful, this statement shared by one of our professors was by far the most meaningful lesson of the day. She reminded us that while many aspects of law school can be seen as a competition at the end of the day, our classmates are our colleagues, and we will be working with them for the rest of our lives.

These relationships matter. They matter now, as our classmates can quickly become our friends, support system, and confidants. Realize that these relationships will be essential later in our careers, as we consider moving firms, sectors, and seek promotions. The opinions of others hold weight, and you want to don’t be “that person” who no one wants to work with because of the way you acted in school.

1L Friendships

“Aim for mastery and performance will follow.”

There is a ton of information about the advantages of establishing mastery goals instead of performance goals. Additionally, research demonstrates that mastery goals improve positive feelings towards helping peers. (

I created this saying as a personal mantra to help me commit to the previously mentioned philosophies. My advice is not to let the competition aspect (performance goals) of law school undermine the opportunities we have to learn from, and be inspired by each other as we (hopefully) master the law. Our admissions departments worked hard to admit not only the best candidates but also the best GROUP of people that can succeed together. I can only speak for my school, but my classmates are amazing and we all mesh very well. By viewing them as assets to help me achieve mastery of the law has made all of the difference in my approach to school and allowed me to form friendships that will last a lifetime.

Let me know what tips you have for balancing your goals and friendships on Twitter or Instagram at @The1LLife

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