New York Law School students

A 1L Guide to Building Community

Embarking on your journey through law school can feel like stepping into a whirlwind of change and new challenges. It’s normal to feel a mix of exhilaration and apprehension as you approach such a significant new phase of your life and career. But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. At New York Law School (NYLS), the connections you make and the community around you will be among the most rewarding aspects of your time here. Forming connections with your peers may not only ease your transition into law school but also enhance your overall academic experience. After all, one of NYLS’s primary objectives is to ensure that every student can work as part of a team, which requires a deep commitment to partnership between students, faculty, and administration.

Summer Advantage Institute (SAI)

New York Law School student studying

Even before your first semester begins, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with fellow incoming students, faculty, and administrators through the SAI Workshop Series.

The SAI Workshop Series, a six-week summer program beginning in July, introduces students to basic legal reasoning skills and professional standards through interactive virtual workshops led by NYLS faculty and administrators. The program helps you hit the ground running, beginning with orientation. As a means for students to forge deeper connections with new classmates throughout the summer, a Facebook group is created every year for entering students to interact and get to know each other.


New York Law School students

The goal of orientation week in August is to start to teach you how to navigate law school. It’s also a chance to meet fellow incoming students and establish relationships that will last throughout your time at NYLS. Through various activities and events, orientation fosters social interaction, helping you feel part of the NYLS community from day one.

“Orientation is designed to set the tone for the inclusive and supportive atmosphere that defines NYLS,” says Shani Darby, Assistant Dean of Students. “We’re dedicated to creating a professional and family-like environment where students can socialize, connect, and support one another.”

Academic Success

New York Law School students in class

Beginning orientation week, 1Ls have access to the First-Year Academic Success Program (ASP)––a program that pairs first-year students with upper-level mentors to create an environment for collaborative learning and relationship development beyond the classroom.Each mentor, known as a Teaching Fellow, guides a small cohort of 1L students through hour-long weekly skills sessions throughout the fall semester. Through this collaboration, First-Year ASP helps students build a network of support with their peers.

Student Organizations

New York Law School students at orientation

NYLS is home to a vibrant community of student organizations, ranging from the Student Bar Association (SBA) to various student-led affinity groups. These organizations offer countless opportunities to network on and off campus, grow relationships, and build community. The Office of Student Life hosts a fair every September to introduce our newest 1Ls to the wide array of student organizations you can join. View photos from the Fall 2023 Student Organization Fair.

Former SBA president Nelson O. Melgar Martinez ’23 shared some helpful advice for 1L students: “Get involved in school affairs early…The people we meet in law school form the foundation of our network as legal professionals. So, I encourage anyone to expand [their] network via the terrific student organizations the school has to offer.”

NYLS is committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of where they come from, feel welcome and supported throughout their law school journey. Indeed, leaders from several active student organizations characterize the NYLS community as one that nurtures a sense of belonging.

Professional Development

New York Law School students speaking

During your first year, professional networking is just as important as social networking. To prepare you for the networking events you’re bound to encounter, NYLS offers various resources and opportunities to enhance your networking abilities via career skills workshops held throughout October and November.

Every November, NYLS’s First Generation Professionals—our largest student organization that supports first-generation law students—hosts an etiquette dinner attended by several notable alumni and rising leaders in law. Offered at no cost, the interactive program aims to equip students with the tools needed to succeed in professional situations and network effectively.

Our student organizations and academic centers also work together to host professional development workshops that provide introductions to key alumni working in specific practice areas.

As you begin your NYLS journey, remember that you’re part of a diverse and supportive community. Whether through the SAI Workshop Series, orientation events, or involvement in student organizations, there are numerous ways to build relationships with your peers and fellow NYLS community members. The connections you make while at NYLS will not only enrich your law school experience but also influence the trajectory of your legal career. So, seize every opportunity to network, socialize, and build community—you’ll appreciate the impact it brings. Welcome home!