Back to School (and Back to Blogging)

Welcoming the Newest Members of the St. John’s Family

One of my favorite moments of the year is the first day of Orientation.  After a summer of research, renovation, and rejuvenation, the building is suddenly filled with an entire class of new students all at once.  They are eager, excited, enthusiastic, and filled with energy (much of it nervous energy).  They haven’t yet taken a class or briefed a case; they don’t yet know their professors and they don’t know what it’s like to be “called on.” Although they are law students, the actual experience of law school is, for most of them, still a mystery.  And so, Orientation consists mostly of them getting lots of advice from people who do know what law school is like.

The 265 new JD students that we welcomed in August were no different. They spent the first four hours of their law school careers getting advice: they heard from the Associate Academic Dean, from the Dean of Students, from a panel of professors and students (“How to Succeed in Law School”), and from a panel of alumni (“The Profession of the Law”).  And they heard from me.

The full story about Orientation is here.

My main goal in my Orientation speech each year is make our students feel welcomed and to help them relax a bit.  More substantively, I want to tell them about St. John’s School of Law, about the community they have joined.  And, of course, I give them some advice.  Here is a very brief summary of what I told them.

Things to know about St. John’s:

  1.  We are defined by hard work.  Hard work is part of our reputation, it’s part of our culture, it’s part of what has made our graduates so successful.
  2. We are committed to service.  Service is part of our Vincentian identity and heritage, and it is reflected in our clinics, our pro bono program, our Orientation Service Day, and countless other ways in which we use our knowledge and skills to help those less fortunate.
  3. We treat each other like family.  Dedicated faculty, collegial students, compassionate staff, caring administrators, and supportive alumni — all part of what makes St. John’s a family.

Advice about how to navigate law school:

  1. Work hard (see #1 above), but take care of yourself.  Exercise, sleep, socialize (once in a while).  Do not let the demands of law study overwhelm you.
  2. Serve. (See #2 above).  Do not let the pressures of law school cause you to lose sight of the fundamental ideal of the legal profession: Justice.
  3. Be an entrepreneur.  You are the product, and you should view the next three years as a time of product development.

Needless to say, the full speech was longer (and, I hope, funnier).

2 Responses to “Back to School (and Back to Blogging)”

  1. A dream come true! Thanks Dean Simons 🙂

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