On Communication Between the Classes

November 19, 2007

C.E., 1L

In the midst of get-to-know-you barbeques and hikes as a 1L class, every so often, a 2L would appear on the scene. My first thought was always, “Who is this incredibly impressive person in front of me and how have they gotten to where they are today?” They were only one year ahead of me in school, but seemed light years beyond me in terms of experience. As classes got started, I would see them in the halls and wondered how they’d gotten to know the place like the back of their hands, and as extracurriculars picked up, I was blown away by how much responsibility they had and by how easy they made things look. I didn’t know how to read the Bluebook, and here was a 2L teaching an entire room full of people its ins and outs like a pro. I was struggling to begin research on the human rights project that was assigned to, and here was a 2L managing 60 of them and soliciting new options for next semester. I was trying to figure out how to write my first brief, and here was a 2L actually submitting a real one to a local court.

Fortunately, in addition to running the show, all of these upperclassmen were also there to bring us up to speed, to help us through the process and cultivate that experience I saw in them and craved for myself. Interclass connections are common at YLS and opportunities abound for mentoring between students, both formal and informal.

On the more structured end of the student-to-student mentoring spectrum is the relationship between 1Ls and their dean’s advisors. On the first day of registration, every first year student was welcomed by a second year dean’s advisor over breakfast. He or she explained the registration ropes and then met up with us later than night to ensure that we were able to acclimate ourselves to the New Haven social scene. My dean’s advisor has stayed in constant contact with our group ever since, treating us to meals every once in a while and checking in to see how our first semester is going.

Then came the connections fostered in the course of extracurricular activities. The Yale Law Women, for example, arrived on the scene to do some mentoring of their own soon after the student organization fair. They broke our class up into groups of 8-10 women and invited each group to the apartment of a 2L for a casual dinner. As I met my 2L hosts, that sense of awe came back, but it soon became clear that they were there to help us become accomplished 2Ls ourselves someday. Over a 2-hour dinner, they patiently answered every question we posed to them, which ranged from grocery shopping in New Haven to our eventual summer job search.

As time goes on, more casual friendships establish themselves, and they are no less rewarding. For instance, I recently found myself as one of the female representatives on the YLS basketball team, set to play our HLS counterpart the Friday evening before the big football game. It turns out that our team captain, a 2L who sets practice times and teaches us plays, is also a participant in Yale’s moot court. Now I know who to talk to if I ever consider participating myself!

This overview is far from exhaustive when it comes to communication between the classes, but from dean’s advisors to student organizations to pick-up basketball, and from bars to groceries to classes to jobs, 2Ls are valuable and accessible sources of information. There are only 600 of us, so the friendships span classes, and I’ve found that it facilitates and accelerates our personal development as students and someday lawyers.