Last summer, I had just finished my first year of law school. Despite being a first generation law student, I was able to survive and thrive in my first year and was looking forward to my second year of law school. I knew that I would face new challenges and adventures, but I was not really sure what to expect from my 2L year. I also knew they called it the “work to death” year, but I really didn’t know what I was in for. You may be stumbling on this right before your 2L year and are currently feeling how I felt last summer. Fortunately for you, I have now survived my second year of law school, and I am here to help you! Here are some things that I wish I had known last summer when I was going into my 2L year in order to help prepare you for yours.
Reflections on my 2L Year
A lot happened in my 2L year. I was very stressed and overworked, but it was worth it. 2L year is the “work to death” year. I was so BUSY – extremely, extremely busy. While taking a packed schedule of upper level classes, I worked for Lexis as a student representative, was the head student rep for another company, the treasurer with the Women’s Law Caucus, competed on the mock trial team, worked part-time as a law clerk, was a Ms JD Writer in Residence, participated in numerous clubs and activities and still stayed on top of my personal life. The classes I enrolled in were more challenging and helped me think about the law in new ways. Throughout the semester, I felt the pressure and constantly had to organize my time and prioritize all my tasks. However, my grades improved dramatically, I gained A LOT of valuable legal experience and accomplished numerous goals.
2L Year is NOTHING Like 1L Year
In your 1L year, you are nervous about being in law school, being successful, finding a job, and surviving. Law school is a new kind of beast, unlike anything you have ever encountered before. You really don’t know what to expect and everyone understands this. You don’t get to schedule your classes, you have to figure out how to understand the law and then how to apply it, and you have to learn how to survive cold calls. Many people will say that 1L year is much more difficult than 2L year. This is not necessarily true. 2L year is difficult but in different ways than 1L year. Yes, you already know how to think about the law and the anxiety of starting law school is over, but you are juggling way more than you did as a 1L. You are going to be so very busy. In your second year, you can participate in co-curriculars, typically people get part-time jobs at law firms or work in clinics, and you are taking on harder classes. On top of this, people begin to think about the bar exam. Your focus shifts from figuring out law school to succeeding in law school.
It is Going to Go By In a Flash
In the moment, I felt like the year went by so slowly. Every week had new challenges, adventures, and struggles. My schedule was packed, and I was drowning in it all. However, suddenly it was Halloween, Thanksgiving, finals, Christmas, New Years, new semester, spring break, and then finals?? Suddenly my 2L year was over. You get stuck in a routine and keep thinking about what is the next thing. Each class or activity leads to the next one, and suddenly the week is over. In the moment you may feel like you have so much to do and things are dragging on and on and on. However, you will soon realize that the year flies by and suddenly you are sitting for your last final exam and become a 3L. In order to be successful, you will need to make sure you stay on top of things and keep everything organized.
It is All Going to be Okay
I remember how anxious and stressed I was on my first week back at the start of 2L year. I was already overwhelmed and afraid that I would not be able to succeed or that I would fall into a slump. I was worried how the year would go, if my classes were going to be too difficult, or if my schedule was going to be too much for me. I wish I could sit down with that past Shirlene and reassure her that everything would be okay. Since time travel hasn’t been invented yet, I cannot tell my past self, but I can tell you. Yes, law school is hard. The second year of law school does not necessarily get easier, just challenging in different ways. There are times when you have to choose studying over fun, have your nose deep in your books or take on a million things at once. It can be a bit overwhelming at times, but it is completely worth it. Being a law student is something that only few get to experience, and it so rewarding. Your 2L year is going to challenge you in ways you can’t imagine, but it will all be for your benefit. You will work hard to accomplish your dreams and become a successful lawyer. So work smart, get yourself in the right mindset, and gain experience from every opportunity you can get. So don’t stress about heading into 2L year – it is just one more big step on your legal journey!
Looking for some help to do your best in law school? Find out about our law school tutoring options.