My name is Hala Furst, and I am a 3L. Before coming to Roger Williams I received a BA in Theatre Arts at the University of Minnesota. In the three years between graduating from college and arriving here in Bristol, RI, I worked as a hotel concierge for a luxury brand, a loan officer and mortgage...
Ok, I have several things I want to cover in this blog post:
1. Many of you will be living on a combination of scholarships and loans in law school, which means somewhere around, oh say November 6th, you will realize that you have no money. It is important at that point not to panic. There are several things working in your favor:
a) You live in a small town where things are relatively cheap. Utilities are pretty reasonable, you have to travel into Providence to get to a mall, and beer is $1-$4 depending on happy hour and location.
b) You have no time with which to spend your no-money, being that you are studying for the majority of the day and night.
c) There is always a free meal to be had at the School of Law.
This last one is the most important, and what sets us apart from other law schools. There is always some sort of event, which is usually interesting and intellectually stimulating, like the recent screening of “Traces of the Trade”, a documentary about the slave trade history in Rhode Island, or last week’s lecture by the author of Cape Wind, a book about the wind energy controversy in Nantucket Sound. These events are worth going to on their merits alone, and highlight the singular place Roger Williams University School of Law has in the state of Rhode Island. But the food and drink helps get people there in the first place, and is a smart strategy by the administration. They know that the thing 1Ls need even more than outlines is free nurishment, and a place to just hang out and relax without having to put $10 on your debit card (a game I like to call “overdraft roulette"). I know of a couple of 3Ls whose goal it is to eat at least one meal a day for free at the school, and so far they have been successful. It is worth noting that these two 3Ls are two of the most involved and committed students at school. Whether the free food at information sessions and group lunches was the incentive they needed to become involved or whether it was a well deserved treat for being so participatory is a “chicken-or-the-egg” argument that becomes immaterial after a while. I invite you to do your own research when you come to school here.
2. Return of the memo. It comes back, badder and meaner than ever. It is easy to become discouraged when you encounter your preliminary memo grade, but it becomes easier if you DO NOT TALK TO ANYONE ABOUT YOUR GRADE. You won’t do this of course, because we’re competitive and nosey in law school, but I just wanted to put it out there in case you have better willpower than I. The important thing to remember is that we all learn at our own pace, and in our own way. Some people are going to knock the memo out of the park, and be well below the curve on their Civil Procedure exam. Some people are going to bomb the memo and set the curve for their Contracts exam. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and it is important to keep an open mind. You might find yourself surprised by what you are enjoying and what you aren’t. I have no head for business, but find that I really “get” Contracts (or I feel like I do; Professor Chung’s opinion might differ). My mother is a criminal prosecutor, but I’m surprisingly perplexed by Criminal Law. Instead of getting locked into preconceived notions about what you’ll be good at, take it all at first impression and see what you find fun.
3. Everyday you come to law school is a victory. Every time you get grilled in class and manage to not throw up your own heart, it is a victory. Every 50 page assignment you complete, every 3 hours of sleep you live on, every night you come home and can say “today I came one step closer to being a lawyer” is a victory. Don’t forget that, even when your grade isn’t as high as you want or your answer isn’t as clear as you’d hoped. Remember the small victories.
4. As much as it may seem like it on the surface, law school isn’t a real life version of Grey’s Anatomy. For one thing it is on the wrong coast. And we don’t cut people up. In law school that’s a tort; possibly a criminal violation. At the very least malpractice.....which leads me to my final point: When you stop making sense, go to sleep. Unless it happens in class.