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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Mongroo

Learning to fit in as a First Generation Law student

To be honest, not until my first semester had passed did I ever think of myself as a first generation law student. My first semester grades were okay, but they weren't what I was getting in college by no means. I was a straight A student in college, and practically my whole life, so this was a whole new level of challenging for me. I more so, internalized my losses and failures and even started to question going to law school in the first place. My journey getting there was tough, who's to say that I should stay? When I initially heard the term "first generation" I thought it only applied to those whose parents did not have the chance to obtain higher education (ANY higher education).

My story was a little more complicated though. Both of my parents actually didn't go to college when they were of school age, if that makes sense. After coming to this country at 20, my dad went to a technical school and somehow managed to get a job at two of the biggest and busiest hospitals in New York City. He worked two jobs, coining the term "weekend dad", up until I started college. My mom on the other hand, decided she wanted a career in education, and went back to school when I was in 5th grade. She ended up with a bachelors degree, so technically, although she was an adult student, she was the first one in my family and in her family to go to college.

But with law school, I was completely on my own, dubbing me a first-generation law student. I have 0 lawyers in my family, I will be the first one. Frankly, its tough navigating this new path on my own, I'll admit it. With college, I at least had my mom to talk to about what gen-ed classes were, what to expect when I walk into class, what professors will be like, etc. But here, I don't really have anyone to help me with that. I followed tons of law school bloggers, and I even managed to get myself not 1, but 2 AMAZING mentors, who are just the best humans on earth. But at the end of the day, we all have unique experiences that make us who we are. To my surprise, on my first day of law school I actually wasn't scared walking into the classroom. I just thought it would be similar to what college would be. I couldn't be more wrong.To put it simply, I really didn't know what I was getting myself into, but I somehow found my way. Now here I am entering my second year, and while I'm taking those major lessons I learned from 1L with me in the Fall, I am also slowly learning how to forgive myself for making those mistakes.

Above all, law school can bear a toll mentally, and its tough dealing with that when you don't know who to run to and just have a vent session. But you do have one person, yourself. As first generation law students and future attorneys, we need to learn to not be so hard on ourselves, especially channeling new grounds. Learn to give yourself credit. We've had no experience with this, no one to tell us anything about law school must less about what Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure actually mean.

Someone once told me, the legal profession is hard for a reason. This isn't cut out for everyone, but that fact that we are here.. means we belong.

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