Orientation helps 1Ls start new school year on the right foot
-By Lori Craig
It was a whirlwind week during which they met their classmates, visited Universal City Walk, got the scoop from their 2L Peer Mentors about which elevator to ride when a paper is due at 9 a.m., and even located the building’s rest rooms. And with Orientation complete, the USC Gould School of Law Class of 2014 should be ready to crack open the books for the first day of school Aug. 22.
The Hon. Vijay Gandhi '97 welcomes new
students to USC Law.
USC Law welcomed 200 J.D. students and more than 130 foreign students enrolled in the Graduate and International Programs as exchange students or in the year-long LL.M., M.C.L. and visiting programs.
At an Aug. 16 convocation kicking off a schedule full of orientation activities, United States District Court Judge Vijay Gandhi ’97 administered the New Student Oath to the newest 1Ls and offered some advice for the next three years.
He asked the students to “reconsider success” and view law school as an adventure with three aspects to it. First: experimentation.
“Convinced you want to be a corporate lawyer? Join USC’s Post-Conviction Justice Project. See the other side. The point is, expand your horizons,” Gandhi said.
Second, understand theory but put theory into practice. And third, recognize your ability to deeply affect people and reflect on how you plan to use that power.
|Peer Mentor Ryan Alshak '13 chats with 1Ls.|
“And it will be power,” Gandhi said. “You will develop skills here that will allow you to throw a person in jail, or prevent a person from spending the rest of their lives in prison. If you like to think in dollars, there will be the opportunity for you to save some large corporation millions of dollars, or maybe get millions of dollars for someone who walked away injured.”
Associate Dean and Dean of Admissions Chloe Reid introduced the students to their classmates by recounting some statistics and describing some of their accomplishments.
The Class of 2014 enters with a median LSAT of 167 and GPA of 3.69. Just fewer than 6,000 applicants vied for the 200 slots. More than a quarter of the class graduated college more than three years ago, having come from careers as paralegals, educators, news producers, military servicemen and women, or interpreters. Others pursued higher education; several have master’s degrees, two are Ph.D.s. One founded a successful video production company, while another created an app that is currently selling on iTunes.
“As I describe your classmates, I’d like you to think about how much each of you has to offer the other and ponder on how interesting your classes will be over the next three years with all these different voices in the room,” Reid said.
Vice Dean Alexander Capron also addressed the 1Ls, emphasizing that their classmates will be their greatest asset and friends for life. He urged them to get to know their professors, and take advantage of the opportunities to do so outside the classroom.
|Vice Dean Alexander Capron speaks to G&IP students.|
“Sit down with Prof. Tom Griffiths and see if he’s really right that you can place a tax on sunshine or happiness,” Capron said. “Find out why Prof. Daria Roithmayr thinks racism is an anti-competitive business practice, or why Prof. Mary Dudziak thinks that civil rights law was really a reaction to communism.
“There are a lot of fascinating things that your professors work on, and I hope that beyond any particular subject that you take with them that you will get to know them and they will also be great resources for you.”
At an Aug.15 orientation program for the Graduate and International Programs (G&IP) students, Associate Dean Deborah Call welcomed students from 26 countries, as well as transfer students and exchange students from Hong Kong, Italy, France, Australia and the United Kingdom.
“Become engaged; get involved,” Call said. “The relationships that you develop with our students, with our faculty, and with those in our office will become your life-long connections. What we’ve seen after 10 years of this program is these relationships you build here will last a lifetime.”
|Dean Rasmussen has lunch with 1Ls.|
Other orientation activities for the 1Ls included panels by current students, faculty and staff on topics such as the first-year experience, joining the legal profession, utilizing career services, and various current legal topics. On Aug. 17, they participated in Explore LA!, hopping on public transportation to visit and learn about a number of nonprofit organizations – including Public Counsel, Mental Health Advocacy Services and the Alliance for Children’s Rights – and Los Angeles hot spots, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Universal City Walk and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
Students spent much of the week shepherded by their Peer Mentors, second-year students dedicated to providing guidance and support throughout the 1L year. The mentors were the first to greet the 1Ls at their initial breakfast on campus, gave tours of the law school and ate lunch with their mentees in Crocker Plaza.
Orientation wrapped up on Aug. 19 with a law school community luncheon with many members of the faculty and Dean Robert K. Rasmussen.