Surviving Your 1L Year: Advice From 2L Mindy Lewis

August 12, 2016| By Alexa Brown — Curious what “1L” year really looks like? Cue Mindy Lewis, who was kind enough to answer a few questions and provide some insight on what to expect your 1L year.

Were you nervous about entering Pepperdine Law school, and if so, what eventually calmed those nerves?

I was definitely nervous entering law school, because I had heard so many stories of how scary and difficult law school would be. Getting to know my professors and my classmates calmed my nerves pretty quickly because it was so easy to get along with everyone. That made my transition into law school really smooth, because I felt like I had people in my corner rooting for me from day one.

Pepperdine Law Mindy LewisPepperdine Law hosts a week long induction to Law School for all 1L’s known as “Launch Week.” How was it supportive to have an introductory week? What is your favorite memory from Launch Week?

Launch Week eased us into law school a little bit and gave us a chance to get to know our classmates and professors before classes started, which made the transition much easier, as I mentioned. Not only was it a good time to begin to build relationships, but Pepperdine also had various professors speak to us in both large and small groups about really practical things that we needed to know to get through our first year successfully, like briefing a case and outlining. I don’t come from a long line of lawyers or anything, so a lot of those details and tips were totally new information for me, and I was so glad to have that knowledge in my back pocket before I walked into my first day of classes. My favorite Launch Week memory was being called Elle Woods by the professor leading our smaller group session – she graduated first in her class, so I’ll take it!

Why did you choose to go to Pepperdine Law?

The community here is incredible. My guess is that if you walked up to a bunch of Pepperdine law students and asked them this question, 9 out of 10 of them would say the same thing (the other one would probably say something about the ocean view). The professors are truly excellent, but beyond that, they care about you individually. They check in on you, they want to see you excel personally and professionally, they’re incredibly willing to help you with anything from questions about reading to letters of recommendation for jobs. The students are the same way – willing to help one another, checking in on each other when the semester is toughest, encouraging one another. That kind of community was something I didn’t see other places, and I was just drawn to it. Law school is going to be challenging no matter where you end up, but having this kind of support system behind you makes all the difference.

Students are split into sections their first year, with everyone taking the same courses. In what ways was this helpful to you?

Being split into sections was helpful in a few ways. First, because you’re in a smaller group of people, and you’re with those people every day, you get to know them really well. My section honestly had so much fun together! Being split into sections also means that the professors can engage with you on a much more personal level, and it makes for much more dynamic classroom discussions. I found, too, that sometimes it was helpful that I had friends with different professors. For example, there was a concept in Civil Procedure that I really struggled to understand at first, until a friend in another section explained it to me. Being able to use not only my professor, but the other sections’ professors as resources enabled me to grasp difficult concepts and gain a fuller understanding of the law.

What events, student-run or school-wide, were your favorite to partake in, or did you feel were best in preparing for your impending legal career?

From a career-oriented perspective, I enjoyed all the different panels Pepperdine hosted. Every week, sometimes multiple times a week, different organizations brought panels of lawyers in to speak on different topics, and I went to the majority of them. It was a great way to get a sense of what careers in different areas of the law look like and helped me narrow down the areas of the law I want to pursue after graduation. It also provided easy access to networking opportunities with practicing lawyers.

From a fun perspective, one word: dodgeball. The Student Bar Association puts on an annual dodgeball tournament in the atrium, and it was one of the most fun events I’ve ever been to. The competing teams were all in ridiculous costumes, there was pizza, and some of the professors even played!

Who is your favorite professor from your 1L year and why?

Babette Boliek. She was my contracts professor and I look up to her in about a million ways. She epitomizes all the things I said before about the Pepperdine Law community. She’s brilliant – she has not only her J.D., but a PhD in economics as well. I learned so much about the law in her class, and so much about life sitting in her office. All year, I would go up to her office just to check in with her, and we talked about everything – class, family, the legal profession, shoes, you name it! She pushed me to work harder when she saw I needed that push, she gave me perspective when she saw I couldn’t see the big picture, and she gave me chocolate when she saw I just needed the sugar boost. Seriously, find me on campus and ask me why Professor Boliek is my favorite – I’m just getting started here. She rules.

What was your favorite thing to do when you weren’t studying or in class?

I have a new-found love for workout classes that definitely did not exist when I was in college. It’s such a great stress reliever and a welcome change from sitting at a desk!

What was your favorite memory from your 1L year?

Finals week Olympics! The night before our last final for the year, a whole group of 1Ls went down to Alumni Park and played all sorts of field games. We had all mostly moved into the library by that point, so it was so refreshing to take a break from studying to leave our carrels and play duck, duck, goose.

Do you have any advice for students entering their first year here at Pepperdine Law? Any suggestions on how to navigate potential pressures, or encouraging words that helped you through the year?

The best advice that someone gave me during my first year was to just keep my head down. So much of law school becomes a mental game, and there are a million opportunities to compare yourself to your classmates – that’s a deep, dark rabbit hole you don’t want to go down. Instead of looking around and comparing yourself, keep your head down and do what works for you. You can’t control what other people do or how well other people grasp things, so just focus on being the best student that you can be.