Pop culture has always portrayed law school to be this eerie, competitive environment, taking up all of your time and basically destroying your personal and social life. From films such as Legally Blonde to TV shows like How to Get Away with Murder, law school is always placed into one categorical box: insanely difficult, from the dreaded LSAT to the evil professor putting you blatantly on the spot with the “Socratic method” as their defense to humiliating you. But how much of this eerie stereotype is actually factual? Clearly, this singular vision of law school is exaggerated for entertainment value. Law school is something that can be very rewarding and leaves its students empowered, educated, and on the road to becoming some of the nation’s strongest lawyers and attorneys. Which law institution you attend also plays a huge role in your overall experience and, as you can guess, law school at FSU is unlike any other. 2013 FSU Law graduate Vanessa Espinosa can attest to this, detailing her personal experience with attending FSU Law and how it led her on the road to become a successful attorney.
Her Campus (HC): Tell us a little bit about yourself and the type of law that you practice.
Vanessa Espinosa (VE): I am a Senior Staff Attorney with the Guardian ad Litem Program, which is a state program that provides a strong voice in court and positive systemic change on behalf of Florida’s abused, [abandoned] and neglected children. My area of practice is in dependency law, where my role is to zealously advocate for the best interest of children.
HC: What was your major in undergrad and what made you decide to go to law school?
VE: My major was criminal justice with a minor in psychology. My interest in law school was firmly rooted in my desire to help the most vulnerable seek justice and navigate the legal system.
HC: What was your overall experience with law school at FSU and what was your favorite part?
VE: FSU law school was the best experience. It’s an amazing school, their law professors are dedicated and experts in their field. My favorite part about it was just how much the professors and faculty really care about their students and take the time to help in whatever way they can.
HC: What were some of the main differences you found from undergrad at FSU vs its law school?
VE: The FSU law school is separate from the FSU undergraduate campus. The courses are different. In law school, your entire final grade depends on one exam at the end of each semester rather than multiple exams throughout the semester. The lecturing is also different, some professors use the Socratic method. But at the end of the day, it’s the same Seminole spirit!
HC: Is law school really as time-consuming as the media makes it out to be? Was it difficult to still maintain a social life and make time for yourself?
VE: The definition of a social life is different for everyone. But yes, it is definitely time-consuming. You are recommended not to work during your first year (1L) of law school. During 1L year, you are adjusting to the workload, making new friends, developing study habits and learning the foundation. By the end of 1L year, you should know what works best for you. This will open up more time to get involved on campus and participate in more social activities. The amount of time law students have also depends on what other responsibilities they have outside of law school, such as work, spouse, children, etc. With that being said – yes, you can have a social life. Balance is key.
HC: Is your job what you expected it to be when you were studying at law school? What are some of your proudest achievements doing what you do?
VE: Yes, my job does not feel like a job. I love what I do every day, and I continuously strive to make a difference, one case at a time. I was awarded the Guardian ad Litem Program’s Employee of the Year Award by the Miami Dade CBC Alliance for my dedication and service in 2019. Most recently, I was recently awarded the Judge Daniel P. Dawson Award for the Guardian ad Litem Program’s 11th Circuit’s Attorney of the Year in 2020.
HC: Is the LSAT really as hard and scary as everyone makes it out to be?
VE: It’s only as hard as you think it is. You can always take it again. I also recommend getting a good LSAT program.
HC: What would you advise or recommend to anyone who is thinking about law school?
VE: Believe in yourself and trust the process! Get a good mentor and apply for summer internships.