Author: jessicalayton

3 Years, 6 Semesters & Countless Hours Studying.

When I started law school in 2019, I never thought that three years would fly by as quickly as they did. I remember thinking that three years seemed like a long time but as a 3L graduating in May I can assure you that three years goes by, one would argue, too fast. Below are a few tips I’d like to pass onto future law school students:

Focus on law school as a whole not as three separate and distinct years.

It is important to look at the big picture when starting your law school career. Your priorities change as you move from a 1L to a 3L. For example, during 1L you are worried about passing, 2L you are focused on being active in clubs/organizations as well as landing an externship, and by 3L you are primarily focused on the Bar Exam and finding a job post-graduation. It can be quite overwhelming to conquer all that has to be done before the end of the three years, however, it is not an impossible task. It’s important to take the time to map out each requirement with its corresponding deadline. On top of all the requirements that Widener implements for graduation, you must fulfill additional requirements outside of law school. For example, typically the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) is taken at an outside testing center after completion of the Professional Responsibilities course. Unfortunately, these rather important mile stones can get lost in the other stresses that law school brings. Make sure to speak with a fellow student or administrator regarding the additional requirements needed in order to become a licensed attorney.

Be an active participant in all things law school.

Don’t allow the stress of law school to pull you away from clubs and organizations. A few of the predominant clubs/organizations at Widener are as follows: Student Bar Association (SBA), Student Ambassadors and Black Law Students Association (BLSA). Some of the major events held on campus via the clubs/organizations listed above are; Trivia Night, Scavenger Hunts, Sporting Events, Dean’s Picnic, Seasonal Contests, and Barristers Ball. School events allow you to meet fellow classmates, upperclassman, alumni, and professors/administrators. Although it is extremely beneficial to be involved in clubs and organizations while attending law school, it is equally important to know when you are involved in too much. I would say my best piece of advice is to learn to say “no” when your plate is too full.

Network as much as possible.

Networking is one of the most important parts of law school. Although networking with lawyers and judges is essential, networking with fellow classmates is equally important. During the duration of law school a student typically spends their time with the same group of 100 or so students. It is important to make strong and meaningful connections with your fellow classmates because after all they could end up being a future partner in a firm, the county prosecutor or even a judge. Your fellow classmates can also become life long friends that support you throughout your law career. It’s always nice to have someone who understands the stresses of law school.

Jump out of your comfort zone.

Push yourself to do things that are outside your comfort zone because in the end it will make you a better lawyer and all around better person. Law school doesn’t last forever so go join that club/organization, submit that application, or go introduce yourself to an attorney/judge. As an unknown author once said “you miss 100 percent of the chances you don’t take.” At the end of the day that one small moment, may make or break a future opportunity. Law school is all about challenging you as an individual. The socratic method in which law schools implement is not for the faint of heart. It tests students on their ability to be quick on their feet while in class. Although it is absolutely terrifying at first, overtime it becomes easier. Messing up a cold call is far from the end of the world although it feels like it at the time. I can promise you that no one will remember you messing up a cold call but YOU. Law school is about, as is anything in life, trying your best.

Good Luck!

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

For most of you, relocating to a new state for school is not out of the ordinary. However, for a girl born and raised in the Garden State (New Jersey) the move to Pennsylvania was rather new. I grew up on the beautiful Jersey Shore which is about 3 hours from Harrisburg. Moving out of New Jersey was never a thought until law school. Harrisburg, the capitol of Pennsylvania, was going to be my home for the next three years while I attended Widener University Commonwealth Law School. My plan all along is to move back to New Jersey to practice law after graduating. I knew nothing about Harrisburg prior to being accepted to Widener. As any responsible, prospective law student would do, I researched the area in order to get an idea of where I’d be living for the duration of school. I was pleased to find out that Harrisburg was a city that had a lot to offer.

My research of Harrisburg uncovered some must see sights for new residents or tourists passing through. The Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex is immaculate. The sheer architecture of the buildings will undoubtably blow you away. The city of Harrisburg has many state and local parks that can be used for leisure activities or recreational activities. City Island, a mile-long island located within the Susquehanna River, has a lot to offer for all ages. My favorite activity on City Island is Water Golf, a miniature golf course. The Susquehanna River is a refreshing sight for those of us who are not used to being land locked. Harrisburg is located approximately 30 minutes from Hershey Park, a chocolate-themed amusement park, which is ideal for all the chocolate lovers out there.

After doing research on the area itself, my attention shifted toward housing. Although Widener does not provide on-campus housing for its law school students, Widener provides its students with a multitude of guides to ensure each student has all the information needed to find housing. Among the many guides Widener provides its students is the suggested housing guide. This guide was extremely helpful when researching apartment complexes. All the apartment complexes listed on the suggested housing guide were within a 20 minute drive from campus. It is extremely important that you take the time to visit each apartment complex in person. I visited about 5-7 apartment/townhome complexes before settling on an apartment. I ultimately signed a lease for an apartment complex not listed on the suggested housing guide. Thankfully, Widener is no more than a 5 minute drive from my apartment. Widener also provides a dining guide which is a list of on-campus dining and off-campus dining. The only on-campus dining option is a Grab ‘n Go area which provides a selection of pre-made food. The only off-campus dining option worth mentioning is a Starbucks located approximately 2 miles from campus. A potential roommate list is also provided by Widener which details each student’s preferences. To be placed on the roommate list you must submit a housing list submission form. All the above mentioned guides can be found on Widener’s website. Widener is without a doubt dedicated to making the transition to Harrisburg living hassle free. For me personally the move to Harrisburg was smooth and extremely comfortable.

Please note that during this pandemic searching for apartments, visiting Widener, and the normal Harrisburg activities may be subject to change.