By: Brandon LaRose (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 remain humble and be confident. One’s mental state plays a heavy role in ensuring a positive law school experience. Confidence anchors this idea of mental wellness, the importance of which is emphasized from day one. There is a fine line, however, between confidence and cockiness.
Some students coming to law school feel they are smarter than their peers; perhaps they have been in prior educational experiences. But an arrogant student often won’t feel the need to put in the disciplined work that others invest. After all, they never had to before, so why now? As a result, I have seen friends underperform or act surprised when final grades come out. They don’t seem to realize that law school is an opportunity that should be appreciated and relished. Remaining humble can ensure that the opportunity to attend law school results in growth and accomplishment. By the same token, however, a person can be both humble and confident.
Confidence was hard to maintain when I walked into my first day of law school. As I began to develop friendships, I noticed that my nervous classmates and I all searched for the answer to the same question: “[h]ow well will I do in law school?” Some of the first friends I made had attended Harvard, Duke, and other prominent schools, while I went to Muhlenberg College, which is less well known. I had friends who scored in the 160s and 170s on the LSAT. I scored a 154. I had friends who had gotten into Georgetown Law and UCLA. Wake was one of the highest ranked schools that accepted me.
As my social life grew, my confidence dwindled. Yet in the end, I obtained summer associate positions at a well known firm and corporation in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I hope to practice. So despite my humbler beginnings, I still had the opportunity to interview with many different employers during OCIs. I also gained invaluable networking experience within the Charlotte legal community. However, lacking confidence harmed my peace of mind, which could only have had a negative impact on my performance.
Looking back, I wish I knew that the only confidence I needed was the letter of acceptance that I received from the admissions office. I wish I knew to stop and remember that Wake Forest chose me because Wake believed that I would make a valuable contribution to the school.