A Letter to my 1L Self

By: Kylie Hamilton (WFU Law ’20)

If I could give one piece of advice to the person I was on the first day of law school, it would be to ask more questions. Ask more questions to my classmates, both in my class and the classes above me; to my professors, and not just the ones on my schedule; and to the staff who help make Wake Law what it is—a real community.

To my classmates, I wish I had asked more meaningful questions like what their interests were and where they came from, not just if they had understood the assignment from the night before. I wished I asked why they chose to come to Wake Forest for law school or just law school in general. Was it the same reason as me—the cliché “I want to help people and change the world” mentality? I wish I had more frequently asked how they were handling everything. “Easy” is never a word that comes to mind when I get asked how law school is going, but “worth it” always does. Do my peers feel the same way? I wish I had been better at asking how they were managing all the stress associated with being a 1L or just the anxiety of trying to find a place in the world.

To my professors, I wish I had asked for more clarification and insight. What was their opinion on the court’s holding and rationale? Did they agree? Why or why not? What would they have done differently if they were deciding the case or drafting the opinion? Most importantly, I wish I had asked what more I could do to become a better law student overall, what skills I should hone, and what other techniques I could try if I felt that something was not working. How could I have expected them to help me if I was not helping myself?

To the staff that make Wake Forest one of the most beautiful facilities in the country, I wish I had asked how I could help or if they needed anything from me as a student that could make their daily routine  a little easier.

One thing I have realized most during my first year as a law student is that this profession is not something that can be done alone. You need your classmates to constructively compete with you and then vent about the week over Mexican food. You need your professors to challenge you intellectually and encourage you to break boundaries and expectations every single day. You need the security officers, the administrative assistants, the janitorial staff, the maintenance and café workers, and many more to continuously provide a safe and enjoyable environment suitable for three very stressful years full of long days and even longer nights. I entered this profession because I wanted to give back, but it was not until my first year of law school concluded that I realized all of the many people who were giving so much to me so that I can pursue my dream. To them, I will be forever grateful.

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