By Tandis Taghavi
Chapter 1: Muggle Studies
Congratulations, you’ve been accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! Here you will learn the secrets of magic and the laws behind it. Your transformation from a muggle to a witch or wizard will be lengthy and stressful. Through these chapters, I hope to ease the process and explain some challenges you will face, like learning spells (also known as the rules of law).
Both in law school and in the world of Hogwarts, the common phrase “knowledge is power” has been known as an overarching theme. Hogwarts selects students carefully and rigorously for an exclusive education, although the acceptance letter arrives by an owl rather than through ordinary mail (after your first semester of Contracts you might see this again and think Mailbox/Dispatch Rule). The same is true of law school. You will face Professor Snape who smells the fear of 1L’s, abides by the Socratic method, and is terrifying. You may encounter Professor McGonagall who is firm but fair. You could even have a Moody Professor who has a “Mad-Eye” for the law.
There are a few things I wish I was told before I walked into my first week of law school. My parents were not “pure-blood” attorneys. I came into law school totally blindsided. I have now learned law school is a journey and every journey involves learning lessons. I moved 1,300 miles from Texas to San Diego to attend California Western School of Law. A little nerve-wracking is an understatement. I had no idea who my roommates were (we Skyped once), I didn’t know much about the school, and I was terrified I was going to fail out by day two. Everything is new–the people; the language; even the competition (note: do not be alarmed when your jokes start incorporating the law you learned in class, this is a normal side effect).
My first day of class I was dazed and spaced out as I walked hall to hall, staring blankly at all the people around me. I came into law school not knowing what I wanted to practice and not knowing if I would even be good at this thing called “law.” I mean what is “law” anyway?
The Sorting Hat: Do I Belong Here?
Gryffindor? Slytherin? Hufflepuff? Ravenclaw? What house will you belong to? Law school is for courageous, bright, ambitious, and hard-working individuals. While the Sorting Hat places students in a house based on their abilities, law school sorts in various ways. You probably already know law school is going to be challenging (spoiler alert). Knowing this, you have already experienced your first sort. After having studied six months for the LSAT (you know, the test that kills your brain cells second by second), you have now been chosen based on your abilities and accomplishments to come to CWSL.
However, it does not stop there. Through your journey in law school, you will continue to be sorted by course grades, class ranks, admission to Law Review, Moot Court competitions, getting clerkships, and many other categories. (Hint #1: The key is to not panic and do not compare yourself to your classmates. Trust me. It is totally okay to not get accepted into a program. CWSL has various clubs and activities to get students involved. Furthermore, even if your rank is not up to your standards, or you ended up with two C’s, everything will be just fine. Just breathe.)
Much like at Hogwarts, 1L’s do not have a choice in their courses. You will be taking Contracts I, Civil Procedure I, Legal Writing I, Property I, and Criminal Law. Unlike Muggle Studies, an easy course for Hogwarts students (a “gut” course), many of these classes will be difficult and time consuming. Finding a way to balance these classes and maintain your own health and well-being will be vital to success. Law school is a form of initiation into the secrecies of the law and a rite of passage.
There will be days you doubt yourself; days you do not want to go to class; days you wish you were at the beach; days you have breakdowns; days you read the same sentence 23 times. But you will also experience the greatest of days when you finally learn that “to A for life” means A has a present possessory estate in the form of a life estate; or when you get all your readings done for the week over the weekend (Hint #2: Get all of your readings done for the week during the weekend).
Through the good, the bad, and the ugly days, you will learn that strong bonds and friendships are the MOST important thing for your own sanity. Without Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s everlasting friendship, their experiences and triumphs would not have been possible. They grew together and helped each other. They would not have been able to knock down a twelve-foot mountain troll (Troglodytarum alpinum) by themselves; or understand how to brew Polyjuice Potion; or get an A on their Defense Against the Dark Arts midterm without the numerous late-night study sessions and practice of defeating Dementors together. Likewise, in law school you will encounter your peers whose strengths are your weaknesses, and vice versa. Your friends become your lifelines and your life coaches. They are the only other “half-bloods” that understand your frustrations and confusion (Hint #3: find your niche).
Remember, it does not matter who is responsible for letting the troll in; it only matters how you stop the troll from breaking another sink…or your friend. In the words of Harry Potter, “just do something!” (Hint #4: Trust yourself and your abilities. You know more than you think you do). If you find yourself troubled and in doubt, go to the headmaster’s quarters immediately. Find your Professor Albus Dumbledore. Do not let it get to a point where Lord Voldemo…(shhh) tries to corrupt your mind with negative thoughts. At CWSL, know that you are never alone. The Ministry of Magic (student services, academic achievement, career development, etc.) is always available and ready to listen. After all, we are just muggles.
Tandis Taghavi, a 1L at California Western School of Law, was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She completed her bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in business at Texas A&M University. Lastly, but most importantly, she’s a huge football fanatic . . . go COWBOYS!!