The First-Year Experience: Tips for Tomorrow’s Law School Graduates

A Conversation with Lauren Adrian, First-Year Law Student

Frossard: What has surprised you the most about law school so far?
Lauren Adrian: I was all business in the weeks prior to law school. Being the first law student in my family, I was compelled to do some extra research in preparation, which reinforced the fact that law school was a highly competitive environment. Some sources went as far as suggesting the possibility of sabotage between students! I came to terms with the thought of having to watch my back once school started, but after the second week I didn’t see any evidence of student sabotage. In fact, my fellow students are all supportive and encouraging. After being in school for half a semester, I am very happy to report that there is a sense of community between the students. Our community thrives on the mentality that we are all in this together!

Frossard: What activities and organizations at John Marshall currently excite you the most and why?
Adrian: Of the diverse list of organizations and activities that are offered at John Marshall, there are three that piqued my interest. My interest in the first two – The John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law (RIPL) and John Marshall’s Intellectual Property Society – is a given considering I’m focusing on intellectual property law. The third interest is John Marshall’s Moot Court Honors program, even though it initially made me uneasy. When I was first introduced to the program, I remember asking myself: Why would anyone be interested in such a program? But I wanted to learn more, so I volunteered as a bailiff. Now I understand why so many students are interested. I would love the opportunity to participate in this program. It has so much to offer! Aside from these three programs, I am just as excited, if not more due to my past experience as a mentor and teaching assistant, about working with John Marshall’s faculty and staff.

Frossard: Why did you choose John Marshall?
Adrian: Like many prospective law students, I was overwhelmed, and at times consumed, by the search for the right law school. The reputation of the school and faculty were really important to me, and with my interest in pursuing intellectual property law, I was naturally drawn to The John Marshall Law School. We’re currently ranked 17th in the nation for IP, and the professors at John Marshall really stood out to me. I had always pictured law professors as stuffy and intimidating, but John Marshall’s faculty is an exception. Despite a great diversity of personalities, they all still share the same passion for the law, teaching, and their students. I never imagined that law professors would be as approachable as they are at John Marshall. It goes without saying that when John Marshall hit a home-run with my top two criteria, I was sold!

Frossard: What have you done differently since the start of law school up until your mid-semester?
Adrian: The biggest change I’ve made since starting school is my approach to outlining. I found that it works best to keep up with outlining as material is covered in class. This allows me to fully master the details of the topic and ask follow-up questions during my professors’ office hours. Then when it comes time for the final exams, it’s more of a review of material I have already mastered. Repetition is a great study aid. A smaller change I have made is participating more in class. The first week I must have looked like a deer in headlights. Now I relish the opportunity to answer questions and get immediate feedback from the professors, and at the same time, develop confidence in my public speaking.

Frossard: Which professional skills had you learned before attending law school?
Adrian: My undergraduate institution provided many workshops and graded courses with the purpose of preparing us for the job search and strategies for being a successful employee. I learned the basics of cover letters, resumes, and interviews. Through the application of these skills, I was hired as a cooperative-education (co-op) student/employee at Briggs and Stratton Corp. in their research and development department. During my co-op position, I was on a rotation of working full time with professional engineers and going to school full time. I learned the inner workings of a large company and the professionalism that is expected in such an environment. Those experiences provided a foundation of professionalism that I’ve been building upon during my legal career.

Frossard: Which professional skills do you think first-year law students need to keep in mind throughout law school?
Adrian: My favorite phrase with regard to professionalism is “you never know whom you might run into.” In other words, always be prepared for an opportunity to present itself. When an opportunity arises be bold and take advantage of it! Another professional skill for first-year students to keep in mind is how you present yourself – not only to your teachers but to your fellow classmates. A few years from now chances are you will be working with, for, or against your classmates in the legal community. Your professionalism and reputation in law school will impact their view of you in the field.

Frossard: How do you intend to network with the legal community during law school?
Adrian: The white elephant for all law students is trying to find a job after graduation. The only way to succeed is to network and to network well. Along with grades, networking is really important to me. Throughout school I plan to have a great balance of school, networking, and career-skills improvement. I believe that career-skills improvement and networking work hand-in-hand. Through the Career Services Office, I plan to take advantage of all applicable workshops and events that will better prepare me for my career and for networking in the legal community. At the same time, I plan to take advantage of all of student-related opportunities to network, including getting involved with student organizations, bar organizations, and various volunteer opportunities.