Congratulations on finishing finals! Whether it was your first or fifth semester in law school, you should be so proud of what you have accomplished no matter what the outcome may be for you in a few weeks. You have truly earned this break to relax and reflect on your time as a law student, but this is also the time to focus on other matters. So, if you’re beginning to think that re-watching every episode of The Office on Netflix might not be the best use of your time, below are some ideas on how else you can spend your days this winter break:
1. Focus On You
My roommate and I always joke that we enter into finals tired, stressed and worried and leave our last finals as former shells of ourselves. While this may have been more of a reality than a joke, winter break is the chance to focus on you – whether it’s something as simple as eating more than just fast food and drinking something other than coffee and Red Bull. It’s also the time to sleep, whether it’s fitting in that extra afternoon nap or not waking up until noon, just because you can.
This is also the time to do whatever you missed out on during school, like getting a needed haircut or treating yourself to a spa day. Your break is your time to rejuvenate; however, you want to define it.
2. Reflect On The Semester
Notice the heading is “reflect on the semester” not “reflect on your finals.” This is because the time to stop thinking about your finals is the moment your proctor says your time is up – seriously. At this point, there is nothing more you can do to change the outcome and any time spent thinking about what you could have done differently is a waste.
However, it is ok to spend time thinking about the semester as a whole, what worked for you and what didn’t. For example, last winter break I realized I do not need to buy five supplements for one class and I should start outlining a couple weeks earlier than I did so I can spend my last month of the semester solely on practice problems. Reflecting and making little adjustments like this can help make a difference when finals period picks up again next semester.
3. Focus On Others
Once you’ve taken time to take care of yourself, make sure to reach out to your friends and family this break – they miss you. However, keep in mind that unless they have also been through law school, they truly have no idea what you’ve been through these past few months and might ask things that you don’t want to talk about, like your grades and job prospects. Remember that while you’re not the same person you were before you started school there’s no reason to completely shut out the people that care about you. Whether it’s sending a quick text to your friend from college or meeting up with your aunt for coffee, reconnecting is good for both of you to show you still care about the relationship. Plus, maybe your aunt knows a hiring partner at a big firm you’ve been hoping to work for and could help make that connection.
4. Build/Maintain Your Network
Speaking of connecting, winter break is a great time to build your network and or reinforce those connections you’ve made throughout the year. While quick emails to your contacts wishing them happy holidays are normally sufficient, depending on your relationship with the connection, sometimes a hand written card with that little personal touch can make all the difference.
In terms of building your network, this can consist of reaching out to alumni or emailing lawyers at firms where you hope to work. When deciding whom to reach out to, ask yourself: who do I need to know? While this can be time-consuming, maintaining a connection now can make all the difference when you need it most.
5. Set Yourself Up For Success
While it’s highly likely you have had a goal in mind since applying to law school, making professional goals for yourself during winter break is a great way to set yourself up for success in the coming year. Whether it’s making an appointment with career services, perfecting your resume, drafting cover letters or sending out job applications – doing these things now, instead of during school can give you a head start on the competition.
Note that if you’re a 1L, it may be a little early to start the application process, but you can start thinking about your future career in terms of geographical location or what type of law you’d like to go into.
While a semester’s worth of work and finals is a commendable feat you should be immensely proud of – don’t get too comfortable. Law school is a marathon, not a sprint, and you still have a ways to go! Make sure that come the first week of January, you have taken enough time for yourself to come back focused on school and your professional goals whatever they may be.
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