We are here!! After months of waiting and—at least for me—years of daydreaming, the JD Class of 2021 finally arrived on campus last week for our 1L Orientation.
Although I was super excited about Orientation, if I were to be honest, I was also a little nervous about meeting all these ridiculously talented and accomplished people.
(Of course, some of the first people I met worked for the Peace Corps and the United Nations before law school… Which is not intimidating at all!)
Yet, the big theme of Orientation seemed to be: “You’ll be fine. (And if you’re not fine, there’s help available.)” Representatives from the various HLS departments and offices reminded us that they were here to support us.
Our speakers acknowledged that we were probably feeling anxious, and tried to reassure us. At his welcome address, Dean Manning shared a key tip that he received when he was a 1L: “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan pointed out that when she was a 1L, she didn’t have her life figured out (and that she turned out just fine.) Associate Dean Jessica Soban emphasized that she and the entire Admissions Team are “very good at [their] jobs, and none of [us] are here by accident.”
Most importantly for me, however, I also got to see it in practice. The 2Ls and 3Ls who were present throughout Orientation (e.g. members of the Board of Student Advisers (BSA), Resident Assistants, Affinity Group and Student Government leaders) played a key role in humanizing the law school. These upper-year students were fantastic role models and showed me, through their presence and actions, that: (1) people do survive 1L and go on to become 2Ls and 3Ls, and (2) yes, there are plenty of HLS students who are warm, humble, and caring.
I was also very grateful to be starting HLS with friends from the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) Law Fellowship Program, which we completed this summer:
We also spent a good chunk of Orientation with our Section. HLS is a big school, but our Sections help to make it feel cozy and small.
It you’re unfamiliar with HLS Sections, they are a little like the Hogwarts Houses: 500+ first-year students are sorted into smaller groups of about 80 students each by a mysterious, possibly singing, Sorting Algorithm; each has a brave and wise Head of House (Section Leader, in my case the wonderful Professor Jon Hanson); and students quickly grow to become part of a Section community with its own personality, traditions, and culture.
Now, I’ve only been at school for about a week, but I can already tell you that Section 6 is the best. (Every other section would probably say the same thing, but we’re actually the best.)
Section 6 has traditionally been a very supportive one, and upper-year Section Sixers often remain involved as mentors to new 1Ls. For example, I was assigned a “Big Sib” who reached out a few weeks before Orientation and, last week, Professor Hanson (who is also our Torts professor) brought in 2Ls (Gladiatorts), 3Ls (Wartortles), “5Ls” (Tater Torts) and even “25Ls” from the Section 6 family to speak with us and give us advice!
(I know, this is amazing—I really feel like I won the Section Lottery!)
We also had a range of social events last week, including: a Welcome BBQ, a LAWn Party, lunch with our BSAs, and various Affinity Group receptions. The HLS Student Government also brought the 1Ls to Boda Borg, which involved themed questing in a real-world gaming environment!
The LAWn Party at the Holmes Field
All in all, I had a fantastic time at my 1L Orientation. I feel supported, I made friends, and I feel like I found a space where I think I can belong.
Now I just have to actually start studying!
Genevieve Antono is a 1L at Harvard Law School and a graduate of both Columbia University and The University of Hong Kong. Prior to immigrating to the United States, Gennie lived in Jakarta, Singapore, Toronto, and Hong Kong. She spent the year before law school working as a Legal and Compliance Analyst at The Blackstone Group. This summer, she interned at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz through the SEO Law Fellowship Program. She loves eating fried food and drinking beer, especially at Japanese izakayas.