Finding Your Group

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way, 1L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

               Intelligence aside, don’t worry about making friends either. Law schools set you up to make friendships through the section process.

1L is like the first day of college all over again.

Not only are you worried about classes and “if you’ll be smart enough,” a part of you also wonders if you’ll fit in, if you’ll make friends, or if you’ll be that lonely student sitting in the corner for the next three years. Set those worries aside, first of all, you are smart enough, law schools don’t accept people by chance, or as my dean said during orientation, “your application didn’t get stuck with someone else’s and make it into the yes pile by mistake.”

Intelligence aside, don’t worry about making friends either. Law schools set you up to make friendships through the section process. For those of you who aren’t privy to law school class assignment information here’s a quick brief: all 1L’s get assigned to a section, the section normally has 80-100+ people and you’ll have all of your large doctrinal classes with those same students for the duration on 1L. Your sections are then subdivided into smaller groups for your more intensive courses. Moral of the story, your school is essentially handing you 80+ people and guaranteeing you’ll become close with the majority of them by forcing you to spend nearly half of every day in a classroom together.

Furthermore, law schools bring in people from all walks of life.

You have your straight through students, your dual degree candidates, and your ‘mature students’ aka people who have some actual work experience under their belt. You’ll also have various states, countries, religions, and races represented, not to mention different specialties and interests. Playing into those differences your school will house a variety of student organizations and pro bono opportunities while also offering a multitude of workshops and talks.

My point is if you don’t know anyone coming into law school, or you’re worried you won’t find people who share your interests – don’t be. Everyone I’ve met has formed their own little group based on common interests. Your school will help you make those connections because they understand the importance of friendships in law school; after all, it’s those friendships that will help you manage stress, get you through the tough times, and celebrate with you during your good times.

Before I wrap it up, just a quick shout out to my own group of amazing friends that Penn Law has brought into my life. In August I knew no one in the Philadelphia area, just a few months later I celebrated my birthday with nine amazing fellow law students who I now have the privilege of calling my friends.