This week, both residential and online MSL students embarked on their first week of classes. You might be wondering: how do STEM students acclimate to legal studies after undergraduate degrees and/or careers in the sciences?
Well, each year, residential* MSL students participate in an intensive on-campus orientation (internally known as Orientation Maximus), which consists of substantive modules, alumni and faculty panels, endless introductions, and plenty of food and SWAG. The goal is to not only give students a foundation of how to approach legal studies, but also give them a thorough overview of everything they need to know as they start Law School.
Here’s a brief recap of MSL Orientation, which took place last week:
To kick of the week, all new Law School students—LLM, JD, JD-MBA, and MSL students—were welcomed by incoming Dean Kimberly Yuracko, Dean of Students Susie Spies Roth, and Student Bar Association President Richard Minott. Following this welcome, students got to hear from a diverse panel of faculty, administrators, current students, and recent graduates, including MSL Alumnus Angad Verma (MSL ’18). If you attended an MSL Webinar last year, you may have virtually met Angad; he was a frequent webinar guest!
The panelists touched on a wide variety of topics from overcoming Law School jitters to taking advantage of all the resources available to students. Not only do MSL students have access to Student Services at the Law School, but they also have access to University-wide programs, such as Health Services, CAPS, and a variety of other wellness initiatives.
For lunch, students were treated to a plethora of offerings from around Chicago at Taste of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. This event featured hot dogs, deep-dish pizza, popcorn, and a variety of other Chicago staples. Did I mentioned Orientation includes plenty of food?
After lunch, it was time for MSL students to get down to business! Led from Professors Sue Provenzano and Martha Kanter, the substantive modules are meant to give STEM students vital skills that they can use as they start legal studies, such as reading a case, writing a legal analysis, and becoming familiar with legal jargon.
Following the first substantive module, students had the opportunity to get to know their classmates. As we gathered information about our incoming students, we asked them what they were most excited about in Chicago. Based on the word cloud of their responses (below), I think it’s safe to say we have quite an active and interesting group!
For the second day of orientation, students started the morning by attending two consecutive Prof Talks. Prof Talks are a Law School tradition, where professors give short lectures on topics of their research. There were dozens of lectures simultaneously happening, so students had to chose wisely.
For the latter part of the day, full-time MSL students learned about the curriculum from Program Director Leslie Oster, heard from a panel of MSL alumni, got some quick administrative tips—like how to register for classes and book study rooms—and participated in a Campus Challenge team-building activity (aka scavenger hunt).
On the third day of orientation, students participated in more substantive modules with Professors Kanter and Provenzano, as well as a session on Teamwork & Communication Skills with Professor Lynn Cohn. Professor Cohn kicked off her session with a “last person to smile wins” challenge. MSL staff did not fare so well; however, a group of about 5 or so students never broke a hint of a smile…even after being instructed to hop on one leg and spin in circles!
The day concluded with an Ice Cream Social and a curriculum & administration session for the part-time students.
Thursday was an optional day for students, but those who chose to attend had a chance to hear from the Assistant Director of Financial Aid, Zach Weber, get all their outstanding questions answered by MSL staff, and enjoy a Seoul Taco feast.
The substantive modules wrapped up with live grading sessions with TAs. Students broke out into small groups where TAs could offer individualized feedback on a writing assignment.
Once the modules were finished, students joined faculty and staff in the Law School Atrium for more introductions (and, of course, food) at the MSL Orientation Welcome Lunch.
Overall, Orientation Week went as smoothly as we could have hoped. As we’ve come to expect with each new cohort of MSL students, these students thoroughly impressed faculty and staff. They are an interesting, diverse, and engaging group. We are excited to see where this program leads them!
– Mara Jacobucci, Senior Program Coordinator
*Online MSL students also participate in an intensive orientation process, consisting of both synchronous and asynchronous sessions. They work through the same substantive modules as residential students, but from the comfort of their homes, libraries, or offices. More on that soon!