The Second-Year Experience: Hitting Your Stride in Law School

A Conversation with Brian Ashfar, Second-Year Law Student

Frossard: What is the biggest difference between your experience as a 1L and a 2L?
Brian Ashfar: The biggest difference between the 1L and 2L years has been my approach to school. Finishing the first year is challenging primarily because students really do not know what to expect. With a heavy course load, it is easy to get overwhelmed. As a 2L, you understand how to appropriately balance your studies. Knowing what to study and how to study it can make all the difference in the world come exam time.

Frossard: What activities or organizations do you belong to at JMLS?
Ashfar: I am currently the treasurer of the Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA). I enjoy being part of an organization that is focused on the John Marshall community and bringing attention to critical issues in the legal field. We actually just held a successful event called “Women in the Workplace” and were fortunate enough to have Magistrate Judge Cox speak. Student organizations at John Marshall are truly a great way to get to know many of your classmates and get involved.

Frossard: Why did you choose to attend John Marshall?
Ashfar: I chose John Marshall primarily because of the real-world legal curriculum offered to students. The principles of hard work, diligence, and integrity are valued above all else. Located in the city of Chicago, John Marshall also has the added benefit of being in the heart of the third largest city in the U.S.

Frossard: Which professional skills do you think 2L students should focus on developing?
Ashfar: Networking skills are critical to a law student’s success and your 2L year is the best time to start. Who you know can make all the difference, but how you present yourself can seal the deal (or break it). Hard work is another professional skill I would work on, because reputation is everything in the legal field — everyone remembers the intern/extern that stayed late and put in the extra hours at the office.

Frossard: How do you intend to network with the legal community during law school?
Ashfar: Contacting JMLS alums is the first step to creating the lines of communication that will hopefully lead to more job opportunities in the future. Also, reaching out to family and friends is another great way to position yourself to find a job. JMLS has phenomenal resources and events that can really boost your chances at getting a job opportunity. As a 1L, I attended the “Practice Tracks” event, and it was a perfect opportunity to get to know attorneys in fields I had interests in.

Frossard: Any other words of wisdom you would like to share from the perspective of a 2L?
Ashfar: I think that the best advice I can give to a rising 2L who has yet to find their niche in the legal field is to extern for a judge. I had the opportunity to extern for a federal judge, and it really helped narrow the scope of my legal interest. Working for a judge has many benefits. First, you get a first-hand account of what goes on behind the scenes in a courtroom. Second, the array of cases that your read and research range from patents to criminal law. Third, the intensive research and writing that is required of you is amazing experience that looks great to future employers. Finally, you are able to develop a relationship with someone that can guide you in the right direction and remain a mentor for the rest of your life.