GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona
It’s hard to believe that I take my last final tomorrow and by the time you read this I will be done with my 1L, and likely so will you!
In addition to the thousands of pages I read, the notes I’ve taken, and papers written, I have learned so much more this past year than just about the law, but about myself and the way, I view the world. So, while this may be a tad cliché, here are the biggest takeaways from my life as a 1L.
I made the right choice.
It took forever for me to decide which school I was going to go to. I was caught up in rankings, prestige, and conflicted about where I wanted to practice. In May I still had multiple seat deposits down, and it wasn’t until I decided that I wanted to stay in Arizona to practice that my choice became clear. Even though I was closer to a different law school, U of A made the most sense and I was pretty confident I would fit in well there. I am so grateful that I came to this school. It is 100% where I needed to be.
So 0Ls, if you’re stressing, worried about rankings my best advice is to visit schools, sit in on classes and talk to judges and lawyers in the area you want to practice. Their advice is what helped me decide to stay in Arizona and chose my school. If you’re in a similar position or just starting the process, get out there and speak to people in your legal community.
Friends Make Law School 1000 times better…
I honestly don’t know what I would have done this year without my group of friends at school. School is stressful, and sometimes, you can’t avoid outside life spilling over, and my friends have been there through excessive laughter and tears. I can’t thank them enough. Throughout the year I’ve become closer with different groups, ranging from my micro group, the “Fantastic 4”, to my small section, “the couch crew,” and with others in classes this semester. Special shout out Kevhilanie and to my fellow Watchers of the Law… yep, we have a group that meets to watch the final season of GoT. Yep, I have turned into that person who uses nicknames for friend groups. This is what law school does to you.
I understand that some people approach law school like a lone wolf, and I get it. Law school is as competitive, and you can make it even more competitive if you want to. But law school is also a community. Not only are my classmates my friends, but they are also going to be my colleagues, and just like we support each other now, I am confident we will continue to do that throughout our careers. At our orientation a Professor said, “Make friends, not enemies” and that advice guided me the entire year and will continue to guide me into my legal career.
I have embraced “It depends”…
Before starting school, I had always prided myself on being able to see “both sides” on most issues, or so I thought. Law school taught me that I was more closed minded than I realized. This has been perhaps the most significant way law school has changed me. I listen better. Through cases, class discussions, and lunchtime events, I have been exposed to more viewpoints than ever. Instead of being closed minded and holding my ground on issues I held dear, law school has taught me to be an even better listener, to see the other side of an issue and try to understand it through discussion. Sure, some of my core ideas haven’t changed, but I feel much more understanding of the views of others and why they have them. So now when someone asks my opinion on something, I realize… it depends.