New law students deal with lifestyle changes

By Christopher Hicks


The beginning of the school year brings a new crop of law students to the university, and some may have to adjust to a new level of work not seen in their undergraduate studies.

While a law school education can be rigorous and take a good deal of time, university law professors and students offered tips to new students on how to stay sane while making their transition.


Dean Cynthia Fountaine said she has high hopes and expectations of the first year law students transitioning into the law school.

“Students entering law school must be ready to study hard, do the work, and reach out for help and make friends within the program because everyone is in this together,” she said.

Professors also shared their expectations for the semester. Law Professor Alice Noble-Allgire said she is expecting a smooth transition for law school freshmen from their undergraduate studies.

“Many first years enter the program with a great hunger and desire to learn as much as they can about this field and profession,” she said.

First year law students typically try to seek advice and tips from second and third year students. Nolan Sharkey, a second year law student from Fairview Heights, said adjusting to the law school lifestyle takes time.

“Once I learned I didn’t have much of a social life and accepted it, I knew I would do well,” he said. “If you are lucky, you may only have one, maybe two nights a week to yourself. As you progress after your first year, the work may increase, but so does your efficiency as you become more knowledgeable in this field.”

Sharkey recommended students become involved with organizations, get good grades, and become known for the right reasons.


Carissa Harwell, a first-year law student from Flora, said she had anticipated a change in work difficulty from her undergraduate studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

“I knew it would be a lot harder with much higher expectations and such a different environment with more time doing homework and research would be on a whole new level,” she said.

Harwell said she looked up to her best friend’s father, a lawyer, as a role model, prompting her to consider a career in the field. She likes the idea of being in a position to help others, an opportunity a law degree can afford her.

“The law school here offers many opportunities to get involved through clinics, working in small law firms during the summer, and community service events that we participate in throughout the semester,” Harwell said.

Brad Bauer, a third-year law student from Gillespie, said while he wasn’t sure how this year’s law class would adjust to their new lifestyle, he has some tips to smooth over the transition.

“My tips and suggestions for (first-year law students) would be to develop good time management skills, read, pay attention in class, and don’t be afraid to fit in sanity time dedicated to doing non-school related things,” Bauer said.