People ask me, “How was your first quarter? I answer, “Great, I really love it.” That does not completely sum up my thoughts, but it’s a start. Depending on the day, I could answer with “I don’t think I have ever worked so hard,” “This is a whole new language,” or “I think this is the best decision I could have made.”
The first quarter is tough, especially if you have not worked in a law office all the new vocabulary and ways of writing. It can be overwhelming the first few weeks. Hang in there. It may take a while, but one day it will just click and you will discover you can do it.
The class I entered with was small, and we all began to understand the legal terminology and writing at different times. If you are quick to understand the concepts, help someone who does not. If you don’t understand, ask the classmate who does. Don’t compete, but elevate.” This is your tribe for the next year. I made friends with my classmates. It’s a must! You are all in this together. Since you are going to be working extremely hard, your personal life may suffer. The program is only a year or two. You can do it. However, it’s easier with a support system who respects what you are doing.
You may need to set aside some protected study time at home. You will have to be open with your family that this program is demanding but worth it. If you can’t find the space at home you need, go to the library. Use the resources at hand. Ask the TAs questions, study the PowerPoints you are given. Do the readings. I cannot stress enough how much the reading helped. You need to be prepared before class for real thoughtful discussion. Be organized and make your deadlines.
Yes, this is hard. I would often study for hours and still feel like I missed something. It gets easier but never easy! However, it is rewarding. The faculty wants you to succeed. They will do their best to help, but, ultimately, to be successful in this program, you have to be determined. You have to give it your all.
Finally, be proud of yourself. You are taking steps to give yourself a better future. Don’t short change that. All goals come with work and the first steps are tough. However, I am really confident as I approach my second quarter. I learned so much, gained confidence, and made friends along the way.
You can’t ask for much more than that.
– Kimberly de la Montanya, Second quarter, BA Legal Studies student