Navigating law school as a first-generation student

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Photo via Campbell University School of Law

Most who go through law school hate it, but I loved it so much I cried during the last everything, including exams. Now, I get to go to law school every day in downtown Raleigh.

As a child, I wanted to be a ballerina lawyer. While the ballerina portion was a bit more unrealistic (I was good, but not that good), I had no idea what it really meant to be a lawyer. There are no lawyers in my family. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I picked my college based on the school colors red, white and black to match my high school + I picked a law school based on it being in a destination city.

As a first-generation student, the unknowns are boundless, and the fumbles are constant. I thought that by graduating college a semester early, it would help me save for law school. I didn’t know that the grace period on my undergraduate loans would expire before starting law school and require payment. When I made it to law school, the student loan refund that I was expected to live off for the semester was the most money I ever had (or frankly, seen) and I knew nothing about what to do with it. My loving and supporting family couldn’t understand what I was going through despite their best efforts.

I chose a brand-new law school that was not yet accredited without having any understanding of what that meant. And while I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything, there was so much I didn’t know that I could have known with a little help from a lawyer who had already been through the process.

Now, I get to fulfill my dream of never leaving law school by working at one right here in Raleigh, except now I get paid to be here. The best part though, is being able to reach back and give the advice that I needed when I was looking to enroll in college and eventually law. We created 1st Gen Blueprint, a virtual program that aims to do just that. This program gives you a realistic view of being first generation in law at every stage; application, school, and career. It gives you useful information on financial literacy, LSAT preparation, and prioritizing yourself with mental wellness and resiliency. Most of all, it is the passion project of my admissions team who want nothing more than to break down the barriers to law for first generation students. If you too have thought about law as a career but with no one to guide you, let the 1st Gen Blueprint program be your first step.

Contributing writer Morgan Cutright is a NC Native, Lawyer, Campbell Law Assistant Dean of Admissions, Believer in Women in Leadership, DEI Advocate, and a once-aspiring Ballerina. Do you want to join the conversation? Share your thoughts by contributing to our Voices platform.

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