Twists and Turns of 1L Year: My first semester of law school was a rollercoaster. It had the highs, the lows, and of course the twists and turns. I’ll start with the highs.
I have known since I was 9 years old that I wanted to be a lawyer. Being in law school has brought me closer to that goal. The feelings of finally being in a place I’ve looked forward to for years was a huge highlight of my first semester. Another high was going to my favorite class, Torts. Torts for me had the most interesting cases, had intriguing elements to delve into for different torts like battery and products liability, and had an amazing professor who brought energy and passion to every 8am class (yes, surprisingly my favorite class was at 8am). Another huge part of my first semester included the clubs I joined and the people I met through them. My favorites were La Alianza (Latinx student association) and the Women of Color Collective. Both clubs introduced me to friends and mentors who I knew would answer any of my questions, to a space where I felt comfort, home, and support all around me, to free food during lunch (very important after long mornings). Lastly, one of my favorite parts of my semester was my work with Berkeley’s Wage Justice Clinic. Through this clinic I was able to have my first experience doing direct client work through client intakes, drafting wage claim forms to the California Labor Commissioner, and demand letters to employers, under the supervision of Legal Aid at Work attorneys.
On to the lows. Although I was warned and prepared for some of the battles of law school, the feelings of imposter syndrome and not being good enough still crept in. There were many moments during the semester where it felt like everyone was ahead of me or that it was taking me much longer to remember certain concepts. There were periods of homesickness and continued COVID anxiety. However, these experiences taught me new ways of combating my lows. I learned how to take more breaks during the day even though I had pressing work to do. I learned how to better carve time out of my week to keep in touch with my inner circle, especially when I needed a reminder of life outside of law school. I got better at prioritizing my time by working ahead on weekends and starting larger projects sooner. I also continued doing self-care techniques I learned from LEAP, such as meditating, setting boundaries between school and my personal life, and trying to develop a healthier growth mindset. These self-care habits and the support, strength and encouragement from my family, friends, mentors, and new law school community truly helped me get through the semester.
The twists and turns were my surprises of the semester. This included realizing how long making an outline really does take and discovering I need to start much earlier during spring semester. I was also surprised that study groups did not end up working for me and that I preferred individual studying. I was shocked at the way my calendar filled up each week, with more than just classes, but club meetings, career office meetings, networking opportunities, pro-bono work, and social time squeezed in between. Lastly, I could not believe that I preferred longer exams over shorter exams once I experienced how fast a minute really is during a law school exam. Knowing the twists and turns of last semester will hopefully make them easier to anticipate and handle this semester.
I truly am still in disbelief that I finished my first semester of law school. I am so proud of myself and am ready to take what I’ve learned to make Spring semester even better than my first. I am currently in the midst of the Summer job applications and halfway through my first week of Spring semester. Although we are starting on Zoom for the first three weeks, I am excited for my new set of classes, to meet new friends, and to be one step closer to becoming a lawyer.