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Andrew Morris

Andrew Morris

Andrew Morris was thrilled to find that his professors at NIU Law love teaching and interacting with students. He credits this fact with helping him to adjust to law school while working as a law clerk at a local firm and still making his spouse and four children a priority.

What was your experience as a first-year student like? My first year was hectic. I had to change so many of the ways that I approached so many aspects of school. The second semester indicated that I was starting to get the point. My first year began with (over-) confidence, moved to panic, and ended with a reality check. The second semester began cautiously, proceeded optimistically, and ended happily.

Sum up your first year in one sentence. It was pretty crazy at first, but everything points toward a more tranquil and fulfilling second year.

What was the most rewarding part of your first year? The most rewarding part of the first year of law school was seeing how drastically improved my second semester grades were over my first semester grades. This went against what might be expected. I had far more time to work with during the first semester. During my second semester, I had a LOT more on my plate outside of law school. I had significantly less time to complete the assignments. That made the improved grades that much more rewarding.

What was the most challenging part of your first year? Not knowing how to “do” law school. Considering my performance in undergrad (and at a relatively demanding school), I expected to be able to ace law school. When my first semester grades came back, I was shocked. Maintaining motivation while figuring out what went wrong was quite challenging.

Why are you thankful you chose NIU Law? Because of the teachers. Coming from a respected research school, many—or even most—instructors were in the process of climbing the academic ladder. Their focus was on the next rung of said ladder rather than on the students. I found this to be completely opposite at NIU Law. Here, the instructors are teaching law because they love teaching law, they enjoy interacting with students, they are vested in the local area, and they want to produce the best lawyers possible. This was a completely surprising and refreshing change.

What advice would you give to incoming first-year law students? Read every case at least twice and brief each case. One of the professors told us to do this on my first day. It took me a little while to get used to briefing cases. Sometimes, it was difficult to understand what happened, and some cases were just bizarre. Briefing the cases really helped me get a better understanding of each case, and this helped me immensely when I took my finals. Also, if you do not know a word, look it up. Finally, just don't beat yourself up when you get something wrong. It is better to get something wrong now, and to know why you were wrong, than to get something wrong when you are practicing.

What did you do this summer (externships, clerkships, internships, study abroad, etc.)? I began clerking part-time at Klein, Stoddard, Buck & Lewis in late April. As soon as the semester was over, I began full-time work there and have been averaging 50 hours a week.

How did NIU Law prepare you to succeed in your summer position? While I have used little bits and pieces of almost all of my classes, Basic Legal Research has been the biggest practical help. This is interesting because I found the converse to be true, also. When I started part-time, I found that working at the firm was greatly aiding my Basic Legal Research work and was helping me to understand what it was actually all about. At the same time, I know that without that class, I would have had no clue what to do at the firm.

What is your goal after law school? Both my wife's family and my family live in the northern Illinois region. I hope to find a job that will allow me to stay in the northern Illinois region and that will allow me to pursue my personal interests in law, such as immigration and international issues.

This interview was conducted in Summer 2016. 

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Undergraduate Institution:
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Undergraduate Major: Political Science

Hometown: Rockford, Illinois

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