While it may be relieving that 1L year is over, 2L year will present its own set of challenges – and you should make sure you’re ready for them! It may not be as scary as 1L year, but there will likely be many additions to your schedule during 2L that will require you to adapt to new circumstances. Below are a few things you should consider doing to set yourself up for a successful second year.
Don’t Overload Your Schedule
It can be easy to go overboard when you are finally able to choose your own courses, but be realistic about what your workload will be like! 1L course loads may be heavy, but (believe it or not) they are put together for you in a way that ensures your schedule is manageable (on paper at least). During 1L, most people are involved in clubs or extracurriculars in only a limited capacity, preventing too much overwhelm. For many, this will change during 2L year with the start of more time-consuming activities like law review, other journals, and moot court. Be careful to realistically assess the difficulty and time commitment of the courses you’re taking so that you aren’t stretched too thin.
Keep Your Job Applications and Interviews Organized
For many students, another time-consuming part of 2L year will be applying to and interviewing for jobs. If you participate in OCI, your schedule may be crammed during the beginning of the fall semester with interviews or callbacks – requiring that you depart from what would normally be your study (or even class) time. Even if you don’t participate in OCI, many students will be looking to schedule independently secured interviews around this time. It is important that you plan out time for both your schoolwork and interview preparation, or this will get overwhelming quickly!
Plan to Get Involved in Activities
Whether or not you were involved in extracurricular activities during your 1L year, 2L year is a great time to start increasing your involvement. With some added control over your schedule, many students will find it easier to get involved than during 1L year – and you should take advantage of this! The most time-consuming choices are participation on law review or another journal, moot court or trial team- but these are often also the most highly looked-upon choices, as employers understand how time consuming and intensive they are. Getting more involved speaks to your work ethic and intellectual interests, and also gives employers something to talk to you about during your interview!
Look for Practical Experience
Now is also the time to start seeking out practical experience through externships, clinics or part time positions. While 1L focused largely on classroom learning in preparation for the bar exam, the remainder of your law school career should be used to strike a balance between classroom learning and experiential learning. As with many types of jobs, what you learned in a classroom may not translate perfectly into practice, which is why practical experience is so helpful. Outside of classroom-learned legal research and writing skills, there are a multitude of skills that you need to be a successful lawyer, and hands on experience can help you prepare to enter the workforce.
Mentally Prepare Yourself to Keep Working Hard
After a probably intense 1L year, it may be tempting to sit back a bit more during 2L – especially if you did well during 1L. But, this is a great way to let your GPA and class rank slip! Many courses are still difficult, and while the curve may be relaxed somewhat, it still exists. In addition, most students know how to develop a better game plan and handle on their work than they may have had during 1L, which can cause your performance to slip if you relax your approach too much. If you didn’t do well during 1L you should still be trying to improve – it isn’t too late, and you should be sure to use all of the resources available to you to improve your performance. If you did well, continue doing what works for you – you may be able to streamline your approach somewhat, but don’t abandon tried and true methods.
Take Some Time to Relax
Let’s face it, you probably haven’t truly been relaxed since before 1L began. Summer breaks are the longest you have during law school, and you should use some of that time to relax and do something you enjoy. Avoiding burnout is also crucial, and many students probably feel like they need some time to recover after finishing a year as intense as 1L. While it is important to get some legal experience during this summer, make sure that you take time to relax so you can start 2L year fresh!
2L year may not be as scary as 1L year, but it still presents its own challenges. Fortunately, keeping a few things in mind can help you to approach 2L year right.
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