Last year, I didn’t take advantage of having a student advisor as much as I should have. I’m not sure why a lot of 1Ls are hesitant to reach out to their advisor for help; I guess I didn’t really think of my advisor as a resource at the time. Now that I am a 1L advisor, I have a new perspective. Yes, I failed to use my upper-class mentor as a resource, but this blog post is meant to encourage new students to avoid making the same mistake!
Each year, rising 2Ls apply to be student advisors. We go through a brief training process and are given a multitude of resources for advising and assisting our group of three to four 1Ls. Not that many issues have come up in my group of 1Ls this year, but I feel like I have many people to turn to – student advisor program coordinators and Student Affairs Office personnel – if there was a larger issue I could not handle on my own.
Besides this training period and the “meet your 1Ls” kick-off event, there are no mandatory activities. We are given some funds for a lunch out with our group and given the instructions to keep in contact. Other than that, advisors are left to support their 1Ls on their own schedule.
Last year, I don’t think I once reached out to my student advisor with a question. She was a very nice person and I’m sure that she would have helped me with anything I’d asked for; but I didn’t ask.
This year, I am making an effort to regularly send my 1Ls an email about things going on in the tower, along with an invitation to ask questions. Of course I don’t want to flood them with emails every week, but I want to make sure that they are comfortable approaching me with questions. And I wish they would! I’ve gotten a few questions here and there (better than my own track record last year) but I’m always encouraging them to talk to me about class, job searches, and extracurricular activities.
I guess it’s a good thing that none of them are struggling too much, and that they are confident enough in their classes/job hunts/activities to not look for advice. But I can’t help but think that they would benefit from asking more questions, just as I would have benefited from the same thing last year. Law school is such a steep learning curve – you know infinitely more about your environment in September of 2L year than you did September of 1L year; not to mention the real-world contacts and connections that rising 2Ls usually make during their summer internship. This alone is enough to encourage interaction between 1Ls and 2Ls.
And maybe it doesn’t need to be your student advisor that you turn to; now that I look back, I had several different upper-class friends and mentors that I turned to for specific advice. Student advisors are not matched to 1Ls based on interests, so maybe it turns out that you go to other 2Ls for advice about a specific career path or specific activity. But the point is to cultivate relationships with 2Ls and 3Ls – your peers are, and will continue to be, invaluable resources as you advance your legal career.