A Message to Our New First-Year Students From SBA President Leah Leibl
Third-year law student Leah Leibl is the UND School of Law's Student Bar Association President. She recently addressed the group of new first-year students that will make up the UND Law Class of 2016. She shared with the students a message of finding their passion, being excited to be attending law school and taking advantage of the "family" that is UND School of Law. A transcript of her presentation is below.
Good morning class of 2016, faculty, staff, colleagues,
My name is Leah Leibl and I am the Student Bar Association president. I would like to formally welcome each 1L student to the SBA and remind you that among the dozens and dozens of groups, organizations, clubs, and everything else UND School of Law has to offer, there is something out there for each of you. You have now become a voting member of the Student Bar Association, just by getting in; but more about that in just a while.
Paul Campos, a professor of law at the University of Colorado, wrote a book titled "Don't Go To Law School (Unless)." Do not read it. On top of not having an ounce of time for "pleasure reading" in the next three years, it will only make you mad and sad because you are going to law school. You are going to a law school that makes you feel like part of a family.
I am from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; a whopping two hours north and home to a law school of its own, but UND has been my home for the past two years and I am happy to be back this year. UND School of Law wants to get to know you; who you are, what interests you and what makes you tick. You are not just a number or a blank stare from faculty and staff in the halls, you are a name and you matter. UND also does an excellent job helping students find what will be the right fit for them. Like I mentioned earlier, over the next few weeks (and 3 years) you will be inundated with organizations to join, areas to focus on, Law Review, Moot Court, Trial Team, clerking post graduation, and so much more, but the key for me, and what I think the key for each of you is, to find your own niche. The best part of UND School of Law, is that I was able to do so and was encouraged to at the same time.
To that end, I say, take the classes that interest you, mixed with a little bit of the classes that deal with subjects that will be on the Bar Exam, topped off with a schedule that will keep you happy and not sleep deprived. Law School is an experience. You are here to study and attend class and all the regular school jazz, but it is also about social interactions, developing more as an individual and learning to work well with new people. The UND community is tight-knit, and so is the North Dakota legal community, so how you make your mark in law school will follow you throughout your legal career.
If you are here to become part of that experience and help shape the future, then you are in the right spot. Campos includes in his book, a list of the top 8 bad reasons for going to law school. Number 5 is "Lawyers Do All Kinds of Interesting Work." He then goes on to explain "Everything You've Learned from TV Is Wrong." He is right that the lawyers on Law & Order, Perry Mason and Suits make the law seem much more riveting, perhaps because they manage to solve it all in one hour including commercials. But I disagree with him because lawyers get to do all sorts of interesting work, and you are about to see how that magic happens.
When preparing for my first year of law school, I asked other law students what it was like, how will I study for everything, is everybody friends, can I eat in the library, where is the library, what about the professors? I am sure you are all thinking of similar questions. The only lucky thing for you, is that my mom, a practicing lawyer, did not encourage all of you to watch the movie The Paper Chase as a "get ready for law school" event. The movie features a lot of the Socratic method, intense study groups, and the ups and downs of law school. The movie did not freak me out, but it did hammer home the concept that this IS. NOT. UNDERGRAD. Some of you will need to re-develop study habits, read more, focus harder, and others will find that your old ways are perfectly suited for law school. The beauty of the whole package here is that there is help at every step along the way. Whoever said you are in this alone, was lying. My best piece of advice is to ask for help. You will have years as attorneys where you might not be able to ask for help, but these next three are designed for you to ask and then succeed.
I am passionate about several things in my life, law school and specifically, UND School of Law, are on that list. Being a lawyer is going to be about your passion and drive too, so study hard and learn lots, but don't forget to take time for yourself over the next three years. Find out what you are passionate about by trying new things and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
I am proud to be achieving my goal of going to law school. I am confident UND was the right choice for me, and I really hope each of you finds out why UND is the perfect fit for you. For whatever reasons you are here, embrace them and enjoy your time at UND School of Law. . . and don't forget to ask questions.