Month: November 2020

In All Honesty

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and final exams are right around the corner. Do I feel prepared? No. Do I ever feel prepared? Also, no.

I’m currently a 3L in the Extended Division. I have three semesters left, and I know at least one of them (Spring 2021) is going to be remote. Classes went remote about halfway through Spring 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was an abrupt change, but Widener’s faculty and staff have done an amazing job managing the transition to remote learning while trying to keep things as normal as possible over the past several months.

Things are far from normal however. I’m in the Extended Division because I work full time during the day. Work is remote, school is remote, I’ve been averaging 10 to 12 hours a day in my home office. It’s absolutely maddening.

I miss talking with my classmates, I miss awkwardly waving to my professors on campus, I miss being able to meet with faculty and staff in person. In all honesty, I’m feeling kind of lost.

I know I’m not learning as much remotely as I would in the classroom, and my grades from last semester showed it. Luckily we had a temporary grading policy that allowed me to keep my GPA up. However, said policy is no longer in place.

As I brace for the stress brought on by finals, and the impact of potentially less than palatable grades, I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you’re considering applying to law school, maybe consider waiting. Wait until the pandemic is under control and in-person classes can resume safely. Get the full law school experience.

I enjoyed the heck out of my first three and a half semesters at Widener, and I’m anxious to get back in class. Remote learning isn’t terrible, but it also isn’t great. I’d give it a solid “meh” overall. But being in the classroom is fun and exciting and stressful and encouraging all at the same time.

I would absolutely recommend Widener Commonwealth Law School, especially their Extended Division program. It’s a small, hodge-podge sort of group, but also a close-knit community. I feel that sense of community has dwindled through remote learning. I would recommend Widener, but I would also recommend waiting (if you can) until you can take in the full experience.

Reflections of a Graduating Student

It’s strange for me to think about how in two weeks I will be starting my last round of law school final exams. To say that the last two and a half years have flown by would be a complete understatement. And so, I find myself reflecting, more now than ever, on those years and cherishing all of the memories that I have made. Because I often have first-year law students ask me “what is there to look forward to?” And while the question seems reasonable, especially because we are in the midst of virtual learning, it also feels personal.

When I first came to law school, I came in with a lot of uncertainty. I wasn’t sure what type of law I wanted to practice. I wasn’t sure whether I would make any good friends. I wasn’t even sure if Widener was the best fit for me yet because I hadn’t had the chance to visit over the summer. However, it became very clear after my first week of classes that there was nothing I needed to be uncertain about. The professors here are amazing and they are always willing to help you. The students here really care about each other and it was easy to make new friends. There is always something going on at the school for you to be a part of, even in the midst of virtual events. I also always felt supported, even when I decided to practice in an area of law that wasn’t as prevalent in this area.

I came in thinking that I wouldn’t belong and I am leaving wishing I had more time to stay. The great thing about Widener though is knowing that I am never really leaving. The alumni system is dedicated to staying in touch and helping out whenever they can. It’s a group that I am now excited to join here soon. It’s easy to think that law school will never end when you’re in the middle of doing the work but now that I am in the end it feels like yesterday that it just started.

Widener Law Commonwealth: Small School, Big Opportunities.

Hello, I’m Matt Latanich and I’m a 3L at Widener Law Commonwealth. As you are surely aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed how law school is taught, how material is learned, and how students interact with one another; but this shall pass, and if there’s one thing law school has taught me, it’s the necessity of maintaining resilience when faced with adversity.

Regardless of whether learning is online or in-person, one common assertion you’ve probably heard about law school throughout your life is true: law school is difficult. This isn’t meant to be discouraging or to sound pretentious. It’s merely the truth. And at Widener Law Commonwealth, the education you will receive—in-person or online—will allow you to develop the skill set necessary to not only pass the bar, but also to become a self-sufficient and competent attorney who is prepared for the actual practice of law.

The small class sizes at Widener Law Commonwealth were massively beneficial for me in two primary ways. First, it allowed for more individualized attention from professors both in and out of classroom, which, coming from a large state school in undergrad, was extraordinarily helpful to me when making the difficult transition to learning law; it also allowed for a back-and-forth dialogue between students and professors during class discussions, which helped me become more familiar with my classmates. Second, the small class sizes that increased my familiarity with classmates led to developing friendships, but more importantly, to developing working relationships with classmates who eventually became study buddies.

I stress the importance of finding people to study with because of the difficulty of law school. In the first year, students completely shed what they previously knew about learning and are taught to think like attorneys. On paper, this sounds easy enough. In practice, it is a fairly daunting task, but entirely possible. Widener Law Commonwealth’s small class sizes helped me find classmates to study with—and those classmates became some of my closest friends. More importantly, however, we helped each other learn how to think like attorneys, how to master difficult material, and how to prepare for exams, all of which were imperative to success in our first year.

The benefits of small class sizes extended to our professors as well. Rarely, if ever, in undergrad did I have professors who knew my name, let alone knew me on a personal level. At Widener, your professors get to know you and you get to know your professors. Not only does this make the overall experience of learning the material that much less difficult, but it also allows for the professors to tailor how they teach that material to individual students—because they know you as a person, not just you as a student. Furthermore, the intimate connections with professors present opportunities far beyond the classroom: networking opportunities, externships possibilities, and even help finding jobs after graduation.

In short, the professors are incredibly talented, extremely approachable, and genuinely care about their students. The people you will meet will push you to become a better attorney day in and day out while providing the necessary support in a stressful, yet rewarding setting. And Widener Law Commonwealth, as a whole, will present opportunities and experiences that are unmatched as your legal journey begins. Check it out. You won’t regret it.