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WVU College of Law Shane Young

My First Year of Law School

2L Shane Young, of Salem, Ohio, reflects on his first year at WVU Law. He is the 2016 recipient of the 1L Scholarship, Character and Activism Award.

There's a story that Ernest Hemmingway once took a bet that he could write a story in six words or less — and he wrote some of the greatest works in American literature.

True story or not, you’ll learn as a 1L student that the truth can be stretched. One thing is true, however — law school is all about being succinct and brief.

So here is your 1L year in six words, “Work harder than ever; no guarantees.”

To many, that statement may sound horrifying. It may sound different than what the brochure says. However, I’m here to tell you those words are worth every minute that you will spend with your classmates, every late night coffee, and every page you will print off. So enjoy it while you can!

I started in the fall 2015, a bright-eyed new law student with the world at my fingertips. I sat through orientation waiting for my chance to make a difference and swing at every opportunity I could get my hands on. I ran for class president and my new classmates elected me. I was ready to go!

Classes. They are challenging, perhaps a little daunting at first, and thought-provoking. You will read…and read…and read. But you’ll get through them and bond with your classmates.

Shane Young at Times Square

Shane in Times Square

The first break came in October when I traveled to New York City with six of my classmates to the International Law Weekend at Fordham University. This experience would end up kick-starting my career. For three days we tackled the streets of New York City. We met with practitioners and global leaders in International Law. We mingled with law students from countless countries — and we even had a little fun in the Big Apple.

My classmate, Clayton Harkins, and I wound up attending a book release at the firm Baker & McKenzie. They were recently named the world’s strongest law firm, and we were right there in their offices on Fifth Avenue. We had laughs, we ate pizza from street vendors, and we crashed in a hotel room together. We experienced everything the weekend had to offer because we were wide open to the possibilities.

Shane Young, Justice Larry Starcher, and Skyler Assif

Shane with former WV Chief Justice Larry Starcher and Lugar competition teammate Skyler Assif.

In January, I got to compete in the College of Law’s Lugar Trial competition for 1L students. My partner, Skyler Assif, and I had no idea what we were doing, but we jumped in and worked at it anyway. We ended up winning the whole thing! In the end it was less about the victory and more about the time practicing and the experience gained. That is what we will take away from it.

Around President’s Day in February, I took part in a President’s Day Dinner with a celebrity named E. Gordon Gee, President of WVU and former Dean of the College of Law earlier in his distinguished career. It may have not been much but it was a moment of unity between student organizations across the WVU campus. I was proud to represent the WVU Law community and our work on Law School Hill. It really is an honor to have the College of Law on your name badge and I hope you will have the chance to experience that in the future.

Now, at the end of my 1L year, I look back and wonder what it would have been like if I had not welcomed the opportunities presented by WVU Law. I am the outgoing president of my law school class and the recipient of the 1L Character, Scholarship and Activism award. I am the incoming vice-president of the International Law Students Association, treasurer of OUTlaw, and involved with many other organizations.

Shane Young and Justice Breyer

Shane with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer

I have met a Supreme Court Justice, judges on the International Court of Justice, Ambassadors, and Prime Ministers. Next year, I will represent WVU Law as an Executive Student Officer for the International Law Students Association based in Washington, D.C.

Law school is tough, there is no way around that truth. However, law school can be a long corridor with many doors to open, but you have to have the initiative and eagerness to take that walk and open those doors.

If I have to define my personal experience as a 1L in six words, it would be “I worked hard. It paid off.”

So, future WVU Law colleagues, work hard, embrace the opportunities and enjoy the (sometimes fun) ride.

Shane graduated in 2013 from Wheeling Jesuit University with a B.A. in International Studies.

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