Summer Experiences: Advice for the 1L

Theresa, a white woman with dark brown hair, wears a black blouse and pale grey jacket.Kerry, a white woman with brown hair, wears an ivory blouse and navy jacket.Zannah, a white woman with brown hair, wears a white shirt and black suit.By Theresa DiCenzo, Kerry Sullivan and Zannah Tyndall

As a first-year law student, it is understandable to feel overwhelmed about securing the “perfect” internship or externship for your first summer. There is so much pressure to get valuable experience and boost your resume. However, it’s important to keep things in perspective. The reality is any legal experience you gain as a 1L will provide learning opportunities and help you develop as an attorney-in-training.

1. Don’t be worried about getting the perfect or most prestigious experience.

Rather than obsessing over landing a prestigious big law internship, keep an open mind about the range of options available. Smaller firms, government agencies, nonprofit legal aid organizations, and even judges’ chambers welcome 1L interns. The day-to-day work may vary, but every position will allow you to gain exposure to the legal field, build your network, improve research and writing skills, and clarify your own interests.

It’s understandable to have high hopes, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t obtain your top choice right out of the gate. Don’t let the process overwhelm your studies. The most valuable experiences are often unexpected. Over time, you’ll determine what areas interest you the most and what work settings suit you the best. Every position will teach you something useful for the future. The key is to stay open-minded, and don’t worry about checking boxes. Focus on pursuing genuine learning experiences, building skills, and identifying the career paths that excite you. The “perfect” job often comes from unexpected beginnings.

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Embracing Creativity in the Law

By Tiqeece Brown

The legal profession has an antiquated pedagogical style of existence, from court proceedings to the Socratic teaching method. Many lawyers can be conservative and are opposed to taking risks. Therefore, one may speculate this could be the reason why the law is lethargic with advancing particular initiatives. Many feel that creativity should be left outside the law; however, that perspective is erroneous. As society changes, demand for change also increases to meet current needs. As law school has taught many of us, learning the law is not enough; the beauty is applying the law as it comports with the facts of a case. “Making the law dance with the facts” is advocacy, a creative skill set. Creativity and advocacy are inextricably intertwined within the law and should be embraced by the legal profession.

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Managing Stress During Final Exams


Shelby Gilmer By Shelby Gilmer

It’s that time of year again – when the library becomes your second home, caffeine becomes your best friend, and many, many law students become acquainted with high stress and anxiety. You guessed it: it is exam season.

This is my third exam season, and as I look back on my first exam season, I did practically everything wrong. No, not in my studying, but in the way I let the stress of exams control my life. I studied all day, every day, making no time for myself. Law school’s practical reality is that exams require daily hard work for many hours, but that should never mean sacrificing your mental health and overall well-being.

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Surviving Finals: Mental Health Edition


By Leah McLean

As the year is winding down and finals time is fast approaching, it is very easy to get so lost in the pressure and stress of wanting to do well on final exams that we forget to take care of ourselves. Now, I’ve found this to be a common theme amongst my fellow law students, and it is completely understandable. We spend weeks on top of weeks reading, outlining, and studying, with the goal of doing exceptionally well on the final exam. We’re working towards achieving large goals and fulfilling dreams of graduating from our respective institutions and having a large impact on our communities. However, with such large goals, some things can get overlooked, such as getting rest, communicating with friends and family, and putting our mental health first.

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Meet the 2021-22 NCBA Law Student Representatives


Macy AbernethyBy Macy Abernethy

The NCBA Young Lawyers Division created the Law Student Representative program to empower law students to serve their schools and the NCBA through programming and networking. Law Student Representatives provide information to their colleagues about the NCBA and create opportunities for themselves and others to interface with the NCBA through events.

Below, meet the 2021-22 NCBA Law Student Representatives!

Anna Beck, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Why are you involved in the NCBA?

I am involved in the NCBA because the NCBA events I attended as a 1L helped me think about my future career and allowed me to practice networking. I also wanted to encourage students at my school to engage with the NCBA because networking is key to success as an attorney, and you never know where a connection might lead!

What advice would you give to a 1L?

Give yourself grace⁠ – law school is a learning curve for everyone!

What is your area of practice interest?


Why did you go to law school?

I went to law school so that I could use my passions of writing and storytelling to help others.

Cameron Benton, North Carolina Central University

Cameron Benton

Why are you involved in the NCBA?

I joined the NCBA because I was looking to be able to build a community and build professional connections within the state, as I am an out-of-state student from Georgia and had minimal contacts otherwise. So far, I’ve gotten just that and more. My time with the NCBA has made starting law school during an isolating and unusual time feel a lot more normal.

What advice would you give to a 1L?

(1) work smarter, not just harder, (2) go to sleep, and (3) always remember that it’s not what you know, or even who you know, but it’s who knows you.

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NCBA Government & Public Sector Section Summer Scholarship


By R. Wyatt Bland

I would like to thank the North Carolina Bar Association Government & Public Sector Section for awarding me with a $500 scholarship to supplement my living expenses during my internship with the Wake County District Attorney’s Office. I applied for the scholarship this past summer by submitting my resume and a cover letter about my passion for public service.

I strive to live a life of service and make a difference. That goal is why I joined the North Carolina Army National Guard in high school. While attending East Carolina University, I followed my passion for service by striving to embody the university motto of “Servire” – “To Serve” – through various service roles within the Student Government Association and the Student Conduct Board. In my first year as a student representative, I sponsored more legislation than any other member, which led to positive changes in my community, ranging from healthier options at the dining hall to the installation of a crosswalk at a local intersection. I continued to serve in law school as the NCBA Student Representative and vice president, managing partner for the Veterans Pro Bono Project, and editor in chief of the Campbell Law Observer. As the managing partner for the Veterans Pro Bono Project, I led the transition from a project that lacked direction and opportunities to a project now approved by the faculty and Dean to provide pro bono discharge upgrade services.

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Being Thankful for the Little Things


By Trey Ellis

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many, if not all, into some position of discomfort. From business closings to restrictions on in-person gatherings, many aspects of what we consider to be “normal life” have been removed. With much of this “normal life” taken away, it seems natural for us to focus on all the things we don’t have as a result of these circumstances.

However, I would like to challenge everyone to find the positive in what seems like so much negative — to discover the light in what seems like so much darkness. I propose that we concentrate on identifying the things that we still do have under these difficult circumstances, instead of lamenting what we don’t have. More than anything, I want to suggest that we all remain intentional about being thankful for the little things. Let’s make gratitude our new attitude.

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How To Survive Law School


By Sarah Cansler

As soon as you get your acceptance letter into law school, you will start to receive all kinds of unsolicited advice. You should always take such advice with a grain of salt, because everyone’s experiences in law school are different, and you know (or will quickly learn) what you need to do to succeed and stay happy and healthy while you do it.

With that said, I am about to provide—you guessed it—some unsolicited advice about how to survive law school. I’m not here to tell you how to get good grades or your dream job, because there are plenty of people wiser and more experienced than I am who can help you accomplish those worthy goals. Instead, I’m here to give you my thoughts on how to make your three years in law school a tolerable, and perhaps even enjoyable, experience.

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WFU Law School Mom: This Is How She Does It

 By Ashley Oldfield

“I don’t know how you do it!”—that’s the response I usually get when I tell someone that I’m in law school and a parent.  I’m never sure how to respond because, frankly, I don’t know how I do it, either.  Law school is stressful and demanding for anyone, and it’s no surprise that having a family doesn’t make the experience any easier. In the end, I managed to effectively navigate through my first year, and I’d like to share a few of the lessons that I learned along the way.

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NCBA Law Student Reps Experience the Power of NCBA Membership Firsthand

By Brandon McPherson

The NCBA Young Lawyers Division created its Law Student Representative program to empower law students to serve their schools and the NCBA through programming and networking. Law Student representatives serve as the “boots on the ground” at each North Carolina law school, providing information to their colleagues about the NCBA and creating opportunities for themselves and others to interface with the NCBA through different events. As you will read below, the YLD’s Law Student Representative program benefits the representatives in a multitude of ways, while also providing outstanding service to NCBA. Every summer we seek new reps from each school to serve in this leadership position and get connected to the profession. It’s my hope that all of our law student members will consider this opportunity at their respective schools.

All Law Student Division Members are eligible to be a rep. To apply, send a cover letter and resume to Amy Kemple by June 30, 2018.

Avery Barber
Wake Forest University School of Law

I’ve been a student rep for the NC Bar Association at Wake Forest for about a year. I wanted to get involved with the Bar Association because I’ve loved living and working in North Carolina for the past several years. I’ve found that the legal community is full of some of the most intelligent, passionate, and helpful individuals. I wanted to be in a position to leverage my love of networking and North Carolina to help push other law students outside of their comfort zone, to really connect with other people and try new things.

One of the most rewarding opportunities as a student rep was organizing the Legal Feeding Frenzy at Wake Forest. Wake has won the competition for several years, and the bar was set quite high to keep the streak going. While I tried to do my part – sending out emails, collecting food and money donations, reminding people to give – the level of generosity I saw from faculty, students, and alumni left me feeling amazed and grateful. I had the chance to reconnect with previous professors during the collection process and heard from several of Wake’s graduates who participated in past years working in the area looking for ways to keep giving. The Legal Feeding Frenzy tapped into the giving spirit of the local legal community, and I am thankful to have been part of the experience.

Nisel Desai
Campbell University School of Law 

The Young Lawyers Division of the NCBA gives a handful of law students this incredible opportunity to serve their schools, student organizations, build meaningful professional connections, and pay it all forward by serving as a liaison between the law school and our professional association. I’ve learned what it truly means to be part of a profession because of the NCBA: That although our work as lawyers is inherently adversarial, the NCBA enriches the professional development of all lawyers through fellowship, CLEs, and a robust offering of pro bono programs. During my two years of service as a Student Representative, I focused my efforts on encouraging classmates to take ownership of their development as young lawyers by attending CLEs, networking events, and reaching out to leadership in the sections and committees. As a student rep and a member of Campbell’s Student Bar Association, I was uniquely positioned to identify student organizations and Clinical Programs that would benefit from section and committee events. Although I’ve graduated, I hope that the Student Leadership Council at Campbell Law and the North Carolina Bar Association can become further integrated, but I’m proud of the progress we’ve made!

Matthew J. Meinel
University of North Carolina School of Law

Being a student representative for the NCBA at UNC was one of my most rewarding experiences of law school. I enjoyed facilitating connections between law students and the legal community by both bringing practicing attorneys to the law school and getting students out into the legal community.

Because NCBA members practice almost every conceivable area of law, it’s easy to organize events on whatever topic you like. For example, I coordinated a Careers in Privacy & Data Security Law panel to raise awareness of this niche but growing practice area. Additionally, I was uniquely positioned to help other student organizations at UNC connect with attorneys and bring in speakers for the organization’s events, such as an education law panel and a national security law panel.

Furthermore, I participated in and promoted many networking events and other engagement opportunities for law students. Whenever an NCBA section hosted an event or needed volunteers, I would promote that activity to students on campus. By attending these events and otherwise being actively engaged in the NCBA myself, I built a strong professional network during law school and helped other students do the same.