Welcome from Marquette Law School's Student Bar Association President
Many of you do not know me, and I do not know many of you, but believe me when I say that I am so excited that you have chosen Marquette University Law School to continue this journey called life. My name is Adam James VandenHeuvel, and I have the honor to be your Student Bar Association (SBA) President for the 2016-2017 school year. SBA is the student government here at Marquette Law. The primary goal of SBA is to facilitate activities, communications, and relationships between students, faculty, and staff within the law school community, as well as supporting the over 40 different student run organizations at the Law School.
Being new to MU Law School can be exciting or scary, but know that whatever adjectives you may use to describe your experience, there are many people here willing and eager to go through it with you. Last year, when my predecessor welcomed your 2L classmates to Marquette, she created a list of things she wished someone told her when she was entering Law School. I have decided to create a new list of things I wish I would have known coming to Milwaukee and Marquette my first year:
1. Get Involved. Your first few weeks at Marquette are going to be full of new faces, free food, invites to organizations, hundreds of pages of reading, new cafes, restaurants, pubs, and many other things. At times you may feel like Dory, as if you are surrounded by a million distracting shiny things. You will be presented with many opportunities, all of which are great, but you simply cannot do everything! My Advice: Choose a few organizations that you are especially passionate about, and join them right away. You can always join more groups later. Not only will these select organizations help you meet people outside of your classes, they will also provide you great networking opportunities. It may seem like a good idea to join as many organizations as possible, or conversely focus only on academics, but I think that finding a balance will help you “just keep swimming.”
2. Be prepared to make mistakes. Many of you were probably the kid in class who always raised your hand, who always had the answer, and who didn’t have to try as hard as others. Well, law school is new and different. Law school is designed to make you ask difficult questions and answer impossible ones. There will be times when you may get cold called and there is no “right” answer. There are times when you are sure you are right, but then a classmate forms an argument that makes yours look second rate. My Advice: Be thankful. Every time you are wrong, you are given an opportunity to learn something new. Law School is not about right and wrong, it is about the path you take to get to your answer. The law is not as black and white as lawyers like to suggest. Part of the process of becoming a lawyer is making mistakes and learning how to re-think an answer.
3. Find a way to de-stress. I know you have heard this a lot already, but I want you to read it again, from a fellow law student, LAW SCHOOL IS STRESSFUL. My Advice: Find a healthy outlet that helps you relax and de-stress. For some it is meditation. For some it is prayer. For some (not me) it is exercise. For some it is video games. For me it is music. Whatever your outlet is, figure out quickly how to dedicate time into your schedule for that, so that you can succeed at school.
4. You will get a B, and that’s ok. Many of you are undergraduate honors students who only know what a B looks like because of Beyonce. You are competing for honors grades against a group of students who are all as smart and dedicated as you. Law school classes are graded on a curve. This means that the average grade in each class has to be B (or a B+ in some classes). Because of this, you most likely will get a B at some point in your law school career, and that is okay. My Advice: Be okay with getting B’s. Obviously strive for A’s, but don’t let a B (or even a few) shake you. Success in law school is not merely defined by your GPA, but also by your experiences, involvement, and networking. You have much more control over the latter three.
5. Take advantage of all that Marquette offers. We are extremely fortunate to be a part of the Marquette family. Being Marquette students, we have access to discounted student tickets to games, free access to sports facilities, and other on campus resources and activities. In addition to the campus as a whole, the Law School does an amazing job at providing unique and semi-exclusive events at the Law School. On the Issues is a speaker series held in Eckstein Hall that brings in some of the most influential people in the country to discuss important issues affecting Milwaukee, and is completely free. My Advice: Watch the website, read Law News (our biweekly email), read President Lovell’s and Dean Kearney’s emails and take advantage of every opportunity here at Marquette. Before you know your first year will be over.
Once again, I am so excited that you have chosen to make Marquette your home for the next few years. Marquette has an amazing community of students, faculty and staff who are committed to serving those around them in true “Cura Personalis” style.
It is my goal that you never feel like you are alone while you’re at Marquette Law. If you ever need anything or have any questions that you may be too afraid to ask someone else, please let me know. I will do everything I can over the next year to ensure that your experience at Marquette University Law School is the best possible.
See you soon,
Adam James VandenHeuvel
SBA President 2016-2017