It’s an open secret that law as a profession has been a boys’ club for a very long time. With the field unlocked, it’s clearly a family affair as well. I remember sitting in Anheuser-Busch Hall as a 2L job offer less than hearing my classmates mention that their lawyer father helped them with their cover letter or that they stopped an internship at their mother’s company. I love my mom, and she has supported me however much she could – but her help didn’t include tips on how to Bluebook. I had to find my instructions elsewhere.
First-generation law students who have thought about this know this to come. And for those who haven’t thought of it, happy birthday! Fortunately, this gift comes with good tidings. As you send out requests and prepare for the rites of controversy known as the “Eri Doctrine”, you should know that there are groups that aim to give the first generations some guidance while you do the hard work that a JD requires.
US News offers some great tips on how to get through the application process here. ABA for Law Students has an essay that you should check out as well. You should also be sure to see if your school has a first-generation law association dedicated to helping you with outlines, strategies for taking exams, and possibly some people you can live with while you review the tape. Don’t stress over study groups, even if you’ve been alone all this time. Try to find a well-connected faculty member – they may know a former student looking to get hired.
And please, try to find a mentor. Once you start law school, you’ll get that “they live” glasses moment when you realize there are a lot of us out there. They may already be in your circle! My teacher was just a guy I knew from high school who taught me how to make fried steaks and use a telescope. Only after I mentioned that I was thinking about the law did I find out that it was a retired partner at a company he had been working for for decades. He gave me some advice and some caveats about law school that I quickly forgot – but knowing I knew someone I thought I could do stuck with me.
I had a long history of things becoming easy for me in school. A on the papers did not check the spelling. A warm applause when I did my part to show and say. I probably made the rhombus fit through the triangle hole in the kindergarten. Why should getting dinars be different? Unfortunately, law school was a mediocre experience. After I got a low B in school, I definitely planned to move on after my first semester; I felt broken and out of place. The burden of knowing I was a charlatan was on my shoulder, I called my mentor to tell him that his belief in me was misplaced. To my surprise, he answered honestly, “Congratulations! AB means you’re supposed to be there.” He may have been wrong, but I like to think he was right.
When those roadblocks inevitably come up, you want someone in your corner to say you belong there too. And if it does, send me an email. I didn’t ask how, but if you’re going to school in St. Louis, I can at least tell you where to get a good order of French fries from.
Advice for first generation law applicants [U.S. News]
Chris Williams became Director of Social Media and Associate Editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he worked as a high school Memelord™ student on the Facebook Law School Memes group for Edgy T14s. He has endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University at St. Louis Law School. A former boater who can’t swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humour, he has a love for cycling that sometimes bothers his peers. You can contact him by email at email@example.com and by tweeting at Tweet embed.