By: Aryssa Pasinos
2L at Syracuse University College of Law
They say that the first year of law school is the hardest for many reasons. For some, myself included, it is the first time they are away from family and from home. The move from Southern California to Central New York definitely made my first year of law school a bit more stressful. Adjusting to the climate, making new friends, and getting cold-called are a few other things that I had to learn to juggle. I always thought that the first semester of 1L year was going to be more difficult than the second semester. I had high hopes for myself going into my second semester of 1L year. Classes were going well, I enjoyed the topics a bit more, and I thought I was finally learning “how to law school.” I even attended my first Barrister’s Ball and it was a blast! However, little did I know that just about one week after that night, a pandemic was going to change my life.
What began as a trial period of learning remotely, had extended into the rest of the semester being taught online. In the beginning, I thought that learning through Zoom and Blackboard would be beneficial since all I had to do was log in and sit at home during the lectures. It did not take too long before I realized that online learning was not beneficial to me. What I thought was going to be my best class of second semester, became the worst grade I received. Though, with that being said, as aspiring lawyers, we are taught to adapt to any unforeseeable circumstances that might arise. As a result of these unforeseeable circumstances, the paid internship that I had lined up at a medical malpractice firm in downtown Syracuse fell through. This was actually the main reason why I decided not to go back home to California after the semester. I extended my lease on my apartment and it was already too late when my prospective employer told me that due to the current state of things, they have decided not to hire a summer intern. So, what I had hoped to be a great learning experience turned into me being alone for almost 3 months, only leaving my apartment to go grocery shopping every two weeks.
Now, going into my first semester of 2L year, I have learned that most of my classes will again be taught online. Since failure is not an option, changes must be made on my part to make sure that I still receive the best possible education I can have given the circumstance. Possible changes that must be made regarding my law school education include: better time management skills, avoiding distractions, and taking advantage of fellow students and professors. I don’t see life going back to the way it was before the pandemic hit any time soon. Therefore, legal education for many of us will definitely change. I am not saying that this will be easy, but if I know one thing that each law student is capable of doing, it is the ability to adjust to and make the most out of a situation, regardless of how difficult it may be.
I believe that there are some courses that can successfully be taught online but, I don’t believe that any law course can be a part of that list. Law courses are taught so differently than other classes because they prepare us to think on our feet and be prepared to answer whatever hypo the professor can throw at us. Online learning hinders this Socratic way of teaching/learning. Even though most of what the pandemic has done seems to have negatively impacted my life, I do believe that some good things came out of it. It has allowed me to take a step back and truly appreciate the little things in life. It has also brought into light some social justice issues that have always been present but had been either forgotten or put on the back burner. As aspiring lawyers, we must think about how our actions today will carry over when we become practicing attorneys. This is a thought I plan to have in mind as I go into my 2L year.