Expect the unexpected

Photo by Ashley Golledge

Being the first in my family to attend law school, I did not know what to expect and began law school feeling guarded. I prepared myself to face a fiercely competitive and harsh environment full of people waiting to see me fail. I thought the experience would be isolating. After my first semester, I can honestly say, KU Law is not what I expected. I am so glad I was wrong.

As I settled into life as a law student, I realized the environment in Green Hall is a unique kind of competitive. The kind where your biggest competition is yourself. The day-to-day focus is centered around self-improvement instead of direct competition. There is a “join me as I push myself to do my best” mentality around the school. I found myself sitting in a classroom full of people who came from different places, had different experiences, were at different stages of their lives, but were experiencing the same newness of our first year at KU Law. This environment actually fostered inclusion, instead of isolation.

Green Hall has also become an environment where I do not feel intimidated to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. I realized the dreaded cold call did not live up to its hype. We now laugh about a wrong answer given in class because we are all are unsure of the correct answer. It did not take long for cold calls to turn into team efforts with classmates offering to chime in to save each other.

I quickly realized that professors did not use cold calls to terrorize their students. Instead, professors want to gauge the class’ understanding and give students the chance to test their knowledge. The professors at KU Law genuinely want to see you succeed. They want to be here and care deeply about shaping you into a great law student and attorney. I did not expect them to make an effort to remember my name. It may sound small, but it was comforting to hear a, “Hey Lexi, come on in,” when I walked through their door after struggling through a concept in their class.

I’ve heard about the importance of finding a balance between law school and other fun, stress-relieving activities. This still rings true. However, I was under the impression I needed to leave all-things-law-school in Green Hall in order to find this balance. Again, I am glad I was wrong. My classmates turned into good friends who have made my experience that much more inclusive. Spending time with these friends outside of the class setting has been a fun way to take a break from the workload of law school. I find it comforting to spend time with friends who relate to the uncertainty we are all going through in our first year. Few things will be as funny as inside jokes about our law school experience that we have picked up along the way.

— By Lexi Christopher, a 1L from Denver and a KU Law Student Ambassador