Sage Advice from Gina Alexandris
Senior Director, Law Practice Program, Ryerson University
1L ON MY MIND: Here’s a message to all those in their first month of law school. Those who love it, those who hate it and those who aren’t quite sure yet.
There’s a sense by many that, after all the hard work you did to get INTO law school, once actually in it, you should be floating in the clouds. And that may be how some of you feel…some of the time. But to those who might not feel that way some of the time…or all of the time…know and believe that’s completely ok, too!!
This is a period of transition for you.
And like all change, it can be bloody hard!!
I still remember walking up the path to law school on the first day thinking “oh boy, what if they realize they made a mistake and I shouldn’t be here?” (Ya, what I now understand is a bit of imposter syndrome).
And then as I met the amazing people who would be classmates, thinking “eeek, they are so much smarter than me and have broader experiences!!”
And then just the logistics, oh the logistics: from having to find and navigate parking on a new campus every day (some of you are trying to navigate new cities, no less), to figuring out how the heck to get through pages and pages of readings and new concepts, to trying to balance in a new way my other family and job commitments, to thinking I had to figure out from day 1 (or at least first year…) what I wanted to do after graduation.
And then the feeling of awkwardness when family and friends would ask with great enthusiasm – how’s it going ? and I…wouldn’t know quite how to respond.
Well…after 3 years in law school…and 30 years in the legal and legal education space…I can confirm both from my own experience and those of thousands of law students and colleagues, that all of this…is to be expected.
Again…it’s a period of intense changes. Change can be messy in the middle (always grateful to Robin Sharma for that reminder).
With some bad days in first term and first year, I had good days too. Met some good friends, learned some interesting ideas, spoke with some engaging people. I tried to keep curious. I think I finally hit my stride in 3L when I was part of a clinical intensive and met with actual clients regularly.
And then once in the profession, I practised, I continued meeting people and learning their stories, I moved into legal education and kept growing and changing.
With bumps along the way, for sure.
So…in this first month of 1L, whatever you are feeling, own it: joy, fear, pride, uncertainty, yay, blah…whatever it may be.
Emotions are information.
You’re not alone.
Seek out others.
You’re navigating change. You’re growing.
I’d love my colleagues and former students and others, now past 1L, to offer their comments and thoughts to current 1Ls below. And 1Ls if you’re up to it – take this poll below.
You’ve got this.
Love from a 1L from a few decades ago! ❤️