First-generation law students share their best advice for the next class
Imposter syndrome. Complicated applications processes. Difficult classes. For first-generation law school students, entering the legal field can feel intimidating. Loyola University Chicago School of Law aims to ease those anxieties with resources, community groups, and involved deans and professors. Here, three first-generation law students share their stories—as well as the biggest piece of advice they’ve learned during their time in law school.
“You’re going to make mistakes. Everything’s trial and error. You’ve just got to learn from it.”
Giovanni Padilla’s advice: Don’t be consumed by what you don’t know
It all happened fast. When Giovanni Padilla interned for the legal department of a sports management company during undergrad in New York City, the work just made sense to him. “That summer I decided to study for the LSAT,” he says.
Padilla’s parents, Mexican immigrants, had no college experience, let alone law school experience. With no family guidance, Padilla studied hard, took an “excessive amount” of practice LSAT tests, and researched law school programs.
Enrolling at Loyola to study health law was the first step. “The first day, I showed up at orientation and was like, “Nobody looked like me,” he says.
Padilla discussed his imposter syndrome with a dean who put him in touch with the Latino Law Students Association. The community helped him feel at home and gave him a forum to reflect on how other people’s chatter about law school being “crazy hard” discourages students with his background from applying. “That’s not to say that law school is not hard—it’s definitely hard,” he says. “But it’s still just school. If you get to this point, I think you should feel capable.”
Wise words: “I think we forget that law school is new to everybody. Even if people have lawyers in their background, it’s still a new way of learning. You’re going to make mistakes. Everything’s trial and error. You’ve just got to learn from it.”