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An Inside Look From The First Semester of Law School

In case you are wondering, the first two months of law school are like clicking the “unlock” button on your car keys to try and open your school locker at the end of the day. Yes, this actually happened to me.

I understand now why so many people confess that the first year of law school is the most difficult. Never in my life have I been surrounded in one room by so many intelligent minds, so many go-getters and type-A personalities. Nor have I ever left a class so mentally drained, confused, and even sometimes discouraged (except maybe after high school calculus).  None of this comes as a shock to me though. I knew that law school would challenge me. What I didn’t anticipate was that at the same time I would be humbled, I would feel so optimistic and empowered.

For me, some of the most comforting aspects of law school involve the peers and the support system that surround me. I can’t tell you how many times at orientation I thought to myself, “wow, everyone is really normal.” What was I expecting? You might be surprised by how easy it is to establish many friendships quickly, especially at a smaller school. I promise it really does help to complain about the conundrums of Civil Procedure to your law school friends rather than to trying to explain it to anyone who isn’t going through it. In addition to my peers, I have been fortunate enough to benefit from the help of so many mentors in the last few weeks. It is such a relief to know that someone before you has survived and is willing to give you the inside tips about professors, test-taking strategies and generally how to navigate this new crazy experience.

In the last week or so, I think I have crossed the boundary between viewing my professors as these walking, talking, star-studded top-of-the-class graduates who might cold call me at any moment, to recognizing them as real humans and appreciating the value that they bring to the classroom. Some professors are good, some are great, some will bake cookies for the entire class of 80 students, and some will start class by singing a Bob Dylan song. And others will, thankfully, sympathetically laugh (and I mean really laugh) when they ask for questions at the end of a long class and they hear you mutter, “maybe we can start from the beginning again?” (Yes, that is also a true story.)

In the midst of the stress and confusion that is the first semester of law school, even on days when the fourth cup of coffee isn’t enough, this is by far the most exciting time in my life. It is very easy to become overwhelmed by the looming choices ahead—which legal path to follow, how to earn stellar grades, etc.—but from my perspective, it is so much more rewarding to focus on the opportunities that now exist in front of me. This is most definitely what keeps me moving forward, and should inspire others who seek a future in law.

Author Alyssa Moscrop

Alyssa Moscrop is a 1L at USC Gould School of Law and a recent summa cum laude graduate of San Diego State University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She also earned an Honors Minor in Interdisciplinary Studies, a Minor in French, and a Certificate in Public Law.

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