One thing I appreciate about YLS is the emphasis students place on passing wisdom along to other students. When encountering unfamiliar territory in law school (which happens pretty much all the time), the best resource for information is a YLSer who’s been there. More than many other places, fellow students and alumni are happy to make time in their schedules to pass along candid advice based on their experiences.
Although this type of knowledge transfer happens everywhere, it works particularly well here. YLS’s student organizations and administration do a great job planning events that give students a forum to share the lessons they’ve learned looking for jobs, participating on student-edited journals, and building mentoring relationships with professors. Students also can rely on past students’ advice through evaluation databases of summer jobs, clerkships, classes, and more. On a more individual scale, there are opportunities from the admissions process onward to be paired with students a year or two ahead who can answer questions like “How do I choose my classes?” or “What am I doing here with all these people who seem smarter than me?” And anyone can (and many do) e-mail “the Wall,” the law school listserv, to find out where to find a good tailor in New Haven or how to treat financial aid on their tax return.
Note that these opportunities are built into the experience of being a YLS student – they are offered to everyone in some form or another. This is important because not everyone comes to YLS with “insider’s knowledge” of how to get what they want out of law school. For example, there are no lawyers in my family and I attended a large state school that has not historically sent many students to YLS. Before coming here, I had a pretty limited understanding of what lawyers even do on a day-to-day basis, and I did not know what a law journal was.
The answers were bound to reveal themselves to me at some point, but having formal opportunities to ask these questions at a student panel or during a coffee with my Yale Law Women Big Sib was important for me. They connected me with people I may not have otherwise met and also made me more comfortable seeking out people to answer questions on my own. That YLS students value and contribute enthusiastically to this culture of wisdom-sharing is one of my favorite things about being a student here.