By: Thayse M. Almeida Wall (WFU Law ’20) with contributions by Professor Abigail Perdue
If I could give one piece of advice to the person I was on the first day of law school, it would be to keep in mind how lucky you are. For me, the law school application process started with the infamous LSAT. You might think this test is no big deal, but as a native Brazilian, I only started learning English during college. So I could barely understand the questions when I first read an LSAT exam let alone answer them correctly. But after a year of studying reading comprehension, logical reasoning, logic games, and taking too many practice exams to count, I finally got a score that would allow me to apply for a “well-ranked” law school.
And so the arduous law school application process began: undergrad transcripts, recommendation letters, personal statements, diversity statements, and hundreds of other forms, not to mention hefty application fees. Most responses to my application did not arrive for months, and I could not wait to learn if I had been admitted. I was thrilled when I finally got an acceptance letter from Wake Forest, and I was even happier when I visited the campus. I thought the hard part was over. I was wrong.
By the end of my first week of fall semester, I already understood why Wake Forest is affectionately called “Work Forest.” My fellow 1Ls and I were assigned a heavy workload from day one. We often felt pressured and overwhelmed. Under these challenging circumstances, it was very easy for me to sometimes forget how much I wanted to be in law school or, most importantly, how lucky I am to be here. Looking back, I realize how many people had applied who were not admitted; others could not even apply because they did not have the time, money, or opportunity to do so.
Looking back, I would tell my scared and overwhelmed 1L self:
Do you know that nostalgic feeling you sometimes get about childhood, high school, or college? Well, odds are you are going to feel the same way when you look back on law school. So my advice is to keep in mind how lucky you are to be here and enjoy every moment of this unique experience. Enjoy writing your memos and your briefs and even taking your exams. Enjoy the trial bar competition. Take advantage of interesting pro bono opportunities. Celebrate victorious cold calls. Savor all the other amazing experiences that only law school can provide. Most important, appreciate your mistakes and the chance to ask “stupid questions.” Learn from your wrong answers, from your bad grades, and from classmates who outperform you. Finally, give yourself a license to feel tired and frustrated sometimes, but never to give up or forget how lucky you are.