There are two typical responses that law students often provide when prompted with the infamous inquiry, So, what are you doing over winter break? The first is generally along the lines of, “Sleeping longer than Rip Van Winkle.” The second usually springs from students’ whose stress levels are still spiking from their last finals, “Reading every supplement for my classes to get ahead for next semester.” Resist the urge to adopt either of these extreme plans and instead, opt for moderation. While you should allow both your mind and body to rest after a taxing semester, you want to refrain from transforming into a complete sloth; otherwise returning for spring semester will feel like a Herculean chore. The following is a list of some suggestions for more well-balanced, winter-break activities:
Do ensure you take time to relax over break. Whether that means grabbing drinks with colleagues after your last final or plummeting face-down upon your long-lost bed, you have earned the right to relax. Do not forget to take advantage of it!
Do Not, however, spend the entire break sleeping or partying. Again, focus on moderation. Take that vacation, celebrate the holidays, sleep for a full day after finals, etc., but do not waste an entire six-weeks on daily hibernation or inebriation because you will regret how it feels come mid-January.
Do spend time with friends and loved ones. A common complaint from the legal community (both law students and practicing attorneys) is that legal work takes a toll on personal relationships, especially if most of your dearest connections have not experienced the realities of the legal realm. Whether making up for lost time with them from the past semester or putting in the hours for future missed plans, use this opportunity to enjoy the holidays with them now and, perhaps, even explain to them why you have been so distant.
Do Not give in to your inclinations to become a hermit who expends all their energy on Netflix binges. Maybe you felt you performed poorly on an exam or maybe your body has finally had enough, but remaining inert all break will leave you feeling potentially more melancholy and definitely extra exhausted. To prevent this from happening, promise yourself you will create at least one fun memory over break that will serve as a happy reminder for when the semester gets tough again.
Do plan for some efficient days. Put aside time to polish your resume, apply to summer jobs, lay out a better healthy lifestyle plan, and so forth. Essentially, set yourself up for a successful semester.
Do Not bury yourself with supplements and self-imposed advanced reading assignments before the semester starts. Though working on a law journal or moot court brief is a necessary component of your 2L/3L year, burning yourself out on voluntarily tasked homework is not. Step away from the casebooks.
Do register for a winter-session course if it will make your semester easier or fulfill a graduation requirement. Although this goes against the notion of R&R and will cut into some of those precious vacation days, winter classes are a great solution for reducing the amount of workload that you will be responsible for during a future semester. They usually account for two-three credits towards the ABA’s nationally mandated 84 and generally only last for about a week (depending on your particular institution’s schedule). Thus, a course you will be compelled to enroll in as a graduation prerequisite anyway, can be completed in the span of one week as opposed to four months, essentially freeing up more time for internship hours, preferential classes, or personal reasons.
Do Not force yourself to register for a course. There are only two situations where it is absolutely imperative to take a class: if you are a 3L who is in danger of not graduating on time because of incomplete credentials, and of course, if you personally want to take one. If your reasons are founded on anything that departs from those two scenarios, think very carefully before signing up. Again, consider other activities if you do not have to and do not want to take a winter course. Your mind will appreciate it when the new semester begins.
Do carve out some alone time. If you have a personal to-do list that is over a mile along, schedule a few days to check-off some of those items (i.e., get a haircut). Also, take care of the personal needs that make you happy, such as going to the gym or reading a fiction book you had to neglect half-way into the semester. It is important to have at least one day of down time where you only have to answer to yourself.
Do Not become socially inept. A few days of personal time is optimal for rejuvenation; A few weeks-worth of alone time, not so much. There is more than enough time to spare for antisocial tactics during the semester.
To recap, use winter break to prioritize your own needs. Ask yourself, what do I feel like accomplishing most over the next six weeks? Would you rather take a full vacation from law school related items? Or a partial break that involves a combination of socializing along with a week of winter classes? Between fall semester finals ending only a mere few days before the major holidays and the major holidays occupying several of the days off, six weeks will feel more like two. Though you may want nothing more than to stare into a law-school-less abyss, do not squander this advantageous time with such pointless activities. Read that book you never finished, grab dinner with those friends you sorely miss, and most importantly, enjoy the holidays! They will be over before you know it.
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