The Small Group Safety Net

December 14, 2011 - 12 AM

J.D., 1L

At the first meeting of my small group, our professor told us to take a look around the room. Everyone we saw, he said, would be invited to our wedding. Many of us grumbled at the comment—just another orientation cliché, we thought, a hyperbole to calm us down. We were wrong.

Our small group bonded so quickly that we now face accusations of seeming more like a family than an academic class. That’s not to say we’re not diverse. My group alone has Rhodes and Marshall Scholars, two rappers, an Air Force officer, a PhD in Economics, a public school teacher, and a labor organizer. We are liberal and conservative, young and old, outgoing and shy. We’re from California, Kansas, Texas, and Florida.

No one has forgotten where they came from. But once we got into the groove of things at YLS, we were all taken by an overriding sense that we’re in this together. Consider the small group your safety net: no matter what you do, they’re not going to let you fall. We share notes when someone is sick, bake cookies when it’s someone’s birthday, and party when the big assignments are turned in. We’ve even travelled together: camping in Rhode Island, skiing in Vermont, spring break in Austin. It’s true, in a way, that we’ve developed a little family.

Before arriving in New Haven, I was worried that I wouldn’t make friends at YLS. I’d heard that Yale was stifling—full of aspiring academics who didn’t know how to have a good time. I’d also come straight from undergrad, and I worried that I’d have trouble connecting with older students. But I quickly realized that it’s not about age or background. It’s about having someone there to pick you up when you freeze on a cold-call in contracts or sleep through your 9:00 AM procedure class. For me, that’s the small group. I’m glad they’re around, and I’m looking forward to all these weddings.