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...
I have several things I want to share with you in this post, so we’re going to go with my ever-popular list format:
1. Grades are all in, at least for the 1Ls. Some were good, some were bad, all were nerve-wracking. I did pretty well for the amount of work and time I put into things, so I’m pretty happy. I’m not going to talk about grades anymore though, because I think we have all heard enough at this point. Suffice it to say to people looking to come to law school: you will get grades. They will be a reflection of how much time you put into the enterprise + innate ability + dumb luck + how well other people did. It is an alchemy that I do not fully understand.
2. Now that grades are in, we are all fighting second semester lethargy. It is the realization that you got through last semester, only to come back and find out you must do it all over again, for the five semesters. It can make putting your nose back to the grindstone a little hard to swallow. I don’t think I know of any 1Ls who came back from winter break and felt like “Yeah, I get to brief things again! Yippee!”. Now that you have a semester under your belt, you are no longer driven by fear, which you soon realize is the primary motivating factor in the first year of law school. So you have to find other things to motivate yourself. For me, it’s getting involved with the community and with school events. RWU always has great events going on, and I am astounded on a weekly basis with the amount of access this small school has, just by virtue of being the only law school in the state. Not a week goes by that a RI Supreme Court justice or a former Governor, Senator, Representative, etc. isn’t in the building for some event with students. Just this last month we had a debate between Nan Aron, founder and President of the Alliance for Justice in DC, and Ron Cass, Dean Emeritus of the Boston University School of Law, and a prime mover in the nominations of Justice Alito, about the nature of the United State Supreme Court, and whether it should be Conservative. This was the initial event in what the School is calling our Supreme Semester, which will include not only several policy debates, but also a visit from Justice Scalia, and an opportunity to meet with Chief Justice Roberts. If you’d like to learn more about these exciting events, you should check out the Dean’s Blog.
3. I want to tell you all about a couple of examples of the incredible Public Interest work happening at Roger Williams. I’m going to be joining a group of students who will be going to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to work with Hurricane Katrina victims as part of the Student Hurricane Network. This will be the second year RWU has sent a group down to the Gulf Coast (last year was New Orleans) to help with legal work that needs to be done. Along with rebuilding their homes, people need to rebuild their lives, and so much of that work requires legal expertise. I have spent a lot of time in the Gulf Coast (I was born and have family in Alabama; my father used to work for a company based out of New Orleans), and when Katrina hit I felt so at a loss to help. Now I’m excited that I have the opportunity to do so, using the education I am getting at RWU. Also this semester I will be participating in statement-taking for the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission that is working right now in Liberia. Students are being partnered with members of the bar to conduct interviews with refugees and immigrants from Liberia as part of the work that the Commission is doing in Liberia to start the legal healing process for that country after 20 years of civil war. I don’t know that much about Liberia or Africa as a whole, but I have lately come to believe that much of US policy towards Africa borders of criminal negligence. I am really excited about doing something to affect change in the region, and to gain knowledge that can hopefully help shape new US policy.
4. Finally, we work hard and we play hard, and sometimes we do both simultaneously. This past weekend we had the APIL (Association for Public Interest Law) Auction, where we raised a great deal of money by auctioning off items like spa days, kayak and sailing lessons, horseback riding, cookware, etc. all donated by the student body or faculty. But, the really big sellers were the live auction activities with professors. An evening with one professor involving a home-cooked Cuban meal went for $1200! It was a great party, and a great opportunity for students to interact with their professors outside of class. At the graduate level you realize that professors are people too, who like to have a good time just like the rest of us. It makes them only slightly less intimidating in the classroom when you have seen them dancing the funky chicken. Slightly. And, as a special note to Professor Chung, no matter how much Section A likes our other professors, if an activity with you had been up for auction at the APIL event, rest assured we would have come through for you too. See, I’m nice.