WOW! Where has summer gone!? It feels like I had just turned in the last final of my first year in law school. I have been reflecting a lot on my first-year in law school, and I have come up with some tips for incoming 1Ls. 1L is an intense year because usually, it is unlike anything that you have ever experienced. The way we are told to think was different for me.
So, what advice do I have for first-year law students?
Focus on Yourself
- Everyone will and does approach law school differently. It is important to remember to do what works best for YOU. You can try to do what a 2L did who obtained an A in the class, but that might not be the method that you need to be successful. Definitely try all different study habits, but do not feel that there is ONE way to study. What works for one may not work for you.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
- Law school can get VERY competitive. Do not be discouraged by the person who knows every answer to the question in class, when you may not even know 100% what the question is asking. Just focus on what you can gain from them through conversation in class and how to proceed further to make sure you are successful.
Mental Health is Important
- IT IS OKAY TO STEP BACK AND BREATHE. You do not have to spend every waking moment thinking about law school or doing law school related things. I understand people want great grades, but mental health is more important. Make sure that you give yourself time to relax. I made sure that I took Fridays OFF. I did NOTHING related to law school, and I did not feel guilty about it. I needed “Me time.” Reach out when you need help! Asking for help is a GREAT thing!
Professor Office Hours
- I personally loved to go to my professors’ office hours when I was confused about something. THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE THERE FOR. At the end of each semester, I would look at my outline, write a small list of what concepts I was confused on, and I went to their office hours to clear any confusion. It is not a bad thing to go to office hours. Do not worry about being called a teacher’s pet. You are trying to better yourself! I do caution that you do not go their office to re-teach the class. Go there for a few questions!
- I personally did not get too involved my first-year because I was more focused on my grades. I wanted to get a handle on what it meant to be a law student prior to trying to join anything. I joined two clubs after my first-semester was done.
Outline Throughout the Semester
- It is important to not save all your studying until the end. It can be easy to do that when you only have one final in a class, but trust me, time goes by fast. I try to outline once the professor is done with a WHOLE concept. I do this because there is nothing else that they will talk to that can go into that section unless it is a review. Once a concept is done, I try my best to put together an outline at that point to make sure I am staying on top of it.
- Do as many practice problems as you can! Practice, Practice, Practice! It is better for you to get it wrong on a practice exam rather than the exam that is worth 100% of your grade! You can try to use old exams that your professors have used. You can also use BARBRI and Quimbee!
- Although law school can be competitive, it is GREAT to have a group of friends to make 1L not suck as bad. 1L will most likely be difficult, but it gets easier when you have that support from other students. It really puts everything into perspective that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It is important to have a strong support system because times will get rough and to have those friends will be great!
Stay on Top of the Readings
- Please, don’t be that person that comes to class unprepared. Prepare properly for class and do the readings.
DON’T TALK ABOUT THE FINAL AFTER YOU TURNED IT IN
- I cannot stress this enough. Leave the final in the classroom. DO NOT talk to classmates about who put what letter down for a multiple choice question or ask everyone how they answered the essay question. This is unneeded stress. I recommend that when you turn in your final that you don’t think about it because there is nothing that you can do at that point to change the outcome.
YOU GOT THIS!! It is VERY easy to doubt yourself and your abilities when in this environment, but you have the tools you need. Study smarter and not harder, and you will be successful in 1L. I CANNOT wait to hear success stories about what you did or did not do in order to be successful. I believe in each and every one of you.
Talk to me throughout 1L. If you need someone to talk to, or you need an outline, I will ALWAYS be here. Do not be afraid to reach out to me 🙂