Kellyn McGee

Turning the Page: It Isn’t As Scary

As 2016 moves rapidly towards its end, so does this yearlong snapshot into the lives of the “Alumna and the 1L.”  Kayley, the alumna, is a year and a half out of law school and has been a member of the Georgia Bar for almost that long.  Zandrill, the now-2L, is officially halfway through law school. 

I caught up with the two of them at another great Savannah restaurant (and boutique), Cohen's Retreat. I asked them what was different in their law-related lives now than a year ago.  “It isn’t as scary,” offered Kayley about being a brand-new lawyer. She explained that just after getting bar results, people have a feeling of “whew, I made it. Out of law school, sworn into the bar” but they’re really just getting started.  And that is a daunting realization.  Now, though, she’s feeling more secure in her law practice, where she handles most of the family law matters at the firm where she’s an associate. She’s successfully represented clients in contempt cases and hearings on temporary orders, so those “firsts” are behind her. She also knows the importance of keeping abreast on military support and visitation law while practicing family law in this military town.  She is comfortable practicing in an area of law she’s been working in since law school. 

Since Zandrill was in the middle of exams when we had lunch, I asked how she felt this year as opposed to a year ago when she was taking her first law school exams.  She agreed with the sentiment that “it isn’t as scary,” and added that she doesn’t  “care as much.”  Not that she doesn’t care about the exams or her grades, but she’s been able to prepare for exams without the all-consuming stress that comes with 1L year, those “firsts” are behind her too. She’s also busier this exam period than she was a year ago. She’s president of the law school’s chapter of the National Women’s Law Student Organization and she’s working on her law review note, a draft of which was due shortly before exams.  She’s also on moot court and will be competing in the next year.  She completed an externship in the district attorney’s office this semester and is on the job hunt for next summer.  She’s also still doing some part-time work for one of Kayley’s classmates.  All that on top of a semester of Constitutional Law, Evidence, and other 2L classes. 

As much as I have enjoyed following the journey of these two women this year, I’m even more excited to follow their legal careers.  As I mentioned in the introduction to this blog, I’ve had a personal connection with them since they each began law school: Zandrill was an intern in my previous employers office when she was in high school (and had an idea that she was going to go to medical school!) and many years later showed up at an Open House at the law school.  Kayley is a member of Savannah Law School’s inaugural class and she was my first research assistant (this also means she was there at the beginning of my journey in academia).  These women have made their mark at the school and in the legal community.  I expect that they will continue doing so. 

At the start of this semester, I realized that, unbelievably, this fall began my fifth year teaching.  Over the course of these short five years, I was appointed dean of students (and stepped down after serving for three years), I’ve attended each orientation and watched our students eagerly beginning their journeys and I’ve released tears of joy as we released graduates into our profession.  As this little law school in our quaint town has grown and received great accolades, I am grateful that my path to academia led me here. 

I’m also grateful to Kayley and Zandrill for being willing subjects, with none of us knowing what these twelve months would bring. We each had hopes and dreams for how 2016 would turn out and, while we could not have predicted probably half of the events we’ve experienced, we’re still standing, hopeful as we look towards 2017.  And that isn’t too scary.


Kellyn McGee is, inter alia, a professor, writer, mediator living in Savannah, GA.   Her monthly column as one of Ms. JD’s Writers in Residence is Turning the Page, which chronicles the lives of a newly-admitted attorney and a current law student.

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