My school had a two-day orientation. Each school varies on the length of their orientation programs. I have seen orientations lasting from a single day, to an entire week. Wherever you go to school, it is pretty likely that your orientation will be mandatory. You start you character and fitness file for the eventual bar exam you will take on the first day of school, so they will make note of whether you show up or not. So make sure that you are at orientation, because not showing up could compromise your eventual intentions of practicing law.
This will quite obviously depend on your school, but every orientation seems to have a little bit of the same type of activities. The first thing we did was about three hours of administrative tasks: sign-in, receive database passwords, get our student IDs, check out lockers, take professional photos, buy textbooks, etc. Following that, we had a big "Welcome to law school!" assembly in the auditorium where we heard from various administrators about how excited they were for the upcoming year. Then we had a luncheon (bless free food), followed by more information sessions in the afternoon about getting involved and taking advantages of all of the opportunities and services that come with law school. Following that, we had a mixer with all of our 1L class, professors, and law school staff. I wanted to meet some of my professors, but frankly I was too tired and too scared to introduce myself, so I grabbed some free food and then left.
The second day of orientation started with several information sessions. We heard from career services, the financial aid office, student life, etc. We also had the women's basketball coach from the university come and tell us how to get involved outside of the classroom too, in order to keep ourselves sane. Another lunch happened, and then we listened to a presentation advising us not to get involved with drugs or fall into alcoholism, because apparently that is a common occurrence with law students. Lastly, we took a class photo and then had a class barbecue. This ended in the early afternoon hours, because class started the next day - and we had homework to do!
I know one of the biggest questions that incoming students have about orientation is "What should I wear?" Again, this is going to depend on your school. My school specified business casual dress code, but some schools require business professional or even have completely casual dress codes. If your school doesn't specify, a safe bet is always business casual. This means usually nice slacks or a skirt, and a shirt you would wear under a suit jacket. Ladies, business dresses are also appropriate - but make sure it isn't a sun dress.
The first day I wanted to err on the professional side of business casual, so I chose grey slacks, a white oxford-style shirt, and a navy blazer.
I looked very polished and professional, but it was also extremely hot for August. With the blazer, I was more dressed up than most of my classmates, but not so much that I looked out of place. The second day I got my outfit right. I wore a bright blue blouse, and black skinny suit pants.
Overall, this outfit was extremely comfortable, looked polished, and overall was a great choice.
Here are my tips for orientation attire:
- Wear something you wouldn't be embarrassed to be photographed in. Throughout orientation, I took three photos. Remember that.
- Wear something comfortable! I had to walk to the main student union on my university's campus - which was 20 minutes in the August heat each way. Ladies, go ahead and wear flats. Wear something you can walk in for a mile, or sit in for five hours. Somehow, you'll do both.
- If you're unsure, stick to neutral colors. Black, white, grey, and navy are always good choices to blend in if you're afraid of looking too dressed up or down.
- Don't worry too much about it - it's everyone else's first day too!
Things to Remember During Orientation
Orientation, for me, was an extremely stressful experience. Not only was it my first two days living in an entirely new city, but I was jumping headfirst into law school. It was two days of people constantly saying how hard the next year was going to be, giving me a million pieces of information, and trying to wrap my brain around everything that was happening. So here is my advice to you during orientation:
- Take a deep breath. No, seriously. This is stressful, but it's only the beginning. Relax and tell yourself it is all going to be okay. You don't need to start off the semester in panic mode. You've got this.
- Introduce yourself - a lot! You're about to spend three years with the same people every single day. Get to know people, get your name out there, and say hi to your classmates.
- Drink lots of water. You're going to get tired - so you'll automatically reach for the coffee or Red Bull. But drink water too - hydrating properly will help you stay healthy.
- Call your friends, family, or other person you can unload to. I called my mom crying both days after orientation, but I felt so much better after. You need someone you are comfortable with to talk things through.
- Smile. You've made it. You're in law school. You did it.
That's my experience during orientation. I'm sure you have a million questions, so leave them in the comments or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for more updates about starting law school soon!