Take the readings. To take notes. Participate in class. Most of the advice for success in law school is straightforward. Who didn’t already know that studying for an exam was crucial?

As many Harvard Law School students prepare to set foot on campus for the very first time, we asked faculty and staff to share what they wish they had known to do well and stay well. in law school – useful whether you’re a first-year student just starting out, an LL.M., SJD or a 3L preparing to make your mark in the world.

Susannah Barton Tobin ’04, Ezra Ripley Thayer Senior Lecturer in Law: “I would remind new students that eating, sleeping and exercising are the three essentials in maintaining a balanced and happy existence, law school or not, so try at least two of the three every day! “

Credit: Harvard Law School Yearbook 1965

Kenneth W. Mack ’91, Lawrence D. Biele Professor of Law: “Among the rich resources of your law school experience, the most important are probably your classmates. They will be stabilizing influences during your first year and study partners. Many of them will become your lifelong friends. They are amazing people, just like you. Get to know them. Your relationships with them are among the most important aspects of your time in law school. “

Eloise Laurent, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Assistant Faculty Director, Harvard Legal Aid Bureau: “Try not to forget what brought you to law school. You will be faced with a number of prevailing winds that can take you off course, but continue to redirect you towards the values ​​and goals that motivated you to embark on this journey. With any luck, you will discover opportunities that you didn’t even know existed to achieve your goals, but beware of things that you “have to do” or that “everyone else is doing.” Instead, let your lived experience and core values ​​guide you.

Students of the prison legal aid project on the phone.

Credit: Martha Stewart Students from the Prison Legal Aid Project on the phone with a client.

Sheryl dickey, Legal Advisor of the LL.M. Pro Bono Program: “You have a long legal career with many twists and turns, and there are many ways you can put your legal education into practice. I have worked in law, taught as a clinical instructor in a law school, and now work in higher education administration. It is so important to remember that there is not just one path to success! One more word of wisdom: Find people at HLS who make you laugh, challenge you, inspire you, and make you happy. The friends you make through your study groups, classes, student practice organizations, clinics, student associations, sports, advocacy teams, or student government are the backbone of your HLS experience.

Ruth L. Okediji LL.M. ’91, SJD ’96, Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law: “Time flies very quickly, and it is important to cherish the opportunity to form new relationships without giving up old ones. Law school has a way of squeezing time, and what often gets lost is the people or loved ones who have played an important role in our lives thus far. While three years will go by very quickly for you while studying law, it can go very slowly for those outside this bubble. You might think you can pick up on these relationships where you left off, but often times people feel left behind and abandoned because we are so immersed in our legal study. Cherish this moment and build new relationships, but don’t let go of the ones that have been so essential to your life so far.

Professor Ruth L. Okediji facing the camera, gesturing and talking to the students.

Credit: Lorin Granger Professor Ruth L. Okediji with students at a Section Welcome Reception.

Jill crockett, Associate Director of Clinical Programs, Harvard Law School: “Join a FS [student practice organization] – it makes the law school much smaller and overwhelming. There are many choices. “

Cindy zapata, senior lecturer in law: “With everything going on in law school, do your best not to forget why you came to law school in the first place. Always remember that you belong here and that you are here for a reason.

Richard Lazare ’79, Howard and Katherine Aibel professor of law: “I would have liked to know before I started law school how many close and lasting friendships I was going to make at HLS. If I had, I might have been even more ambitious in discovering my classmates, especially those with very different life experiences than mine.

Six people gathered around a table in a conference room.

Credit: Tony Rinaldo A meeting of Harvard Defenders, an SPO that represents low-income people in criminal hearings.

Rachel A. Viscomi, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinic: “The Faculty of Law is here to serve you; not the opposite. Try to remember why you came to law school and be intentional about how you are using your time. Also, “Keep your eyes on your own mat. Many years ago I had a yoga teacher who used this phrase to remind everyone not to focus on comparing their own practice and experience with others. At some point, we may need to measure our own performance against others and assess whether someone else is more or less flexible, balanced, or focused than us. The equivalent of law school might be imagining that everyone is smarter, more experienced, or better prepared than us. It is often an illusion and always a distraction from our development. We each have different strengths and challenges. The more we look at who we are, on our own terms, and work to progress from our own starting point, the easier it is to move forward.


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