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Ms. Iachan, why did you decide to go to
I wanted to learn to think and speak like a lawyer,
and make laws that change society.
But you know, Ms. Iachan, that law school is incredibly
demanding. Are you up to the challenge?
I think so. I’m a pretty determined person, with
lots of energy and a good sense of humor. I can make it.
Ok, Ms. Iachan, welcome to the first year of law
Melissa Iachan (Ya-Shan) earned the appellation
1L after graduating last year from Brown University with a bachelor of
arts degree in political science. A quick study, Melissa breezed through
college, juggling schoolwork with off-campus activities such as political
organizing. Exams didn’t require much heavy lifting. In truth, she only
had four exams in four years. Like many undergrads, most of the time she
wrote papers. No sweat. Then came law school. Its packed schedule, demanding
reading, and probing questions from professors weaned on the Socratic
method is a grind, as Melissa quickly discovered. “I sat in all my classes
for the first month and I felt like I was taking Latin,” Melissa says.
“Beyond the archaic language, the legal terms and the structure of arguments
and analysis are not easy to follow.” Did we mention the workload? “1Ls
have twice as much work as any other year. You have to take twice as many
credits,” says Melissa. Professor of Law and History Bruce Mann, who teaches
Melissa’s Property class, agrees that the high expectations and demands
placed on students can be quite daunting. “The first year of law school,
particularly the first semester, is unlike anything students have encountered
before… Because we focus so closely on cases and statutes, we’re teaching
students to read much more closely than most of them have been asked to
read before. We’re trying to develop analytical skills that most of them
have not had to use. Students often are overwhelmed, but they quickly
get over the sense of being shellshocked.”