If you’re a law student and were lucky, you started law school after the worst of the pandemic had passed and were able for the most part to avoid Zoom school. But of course the pandemic still impacts how we do things in law school – all classes must be recorded; some professors still teach their classes live on Zoom or hold virtual office hours. Depending on how strictly in-person attendance is enforced, some students may still prefer to attend class on Zoom rather than come to class. It can be tempting to attend class sitting at home in your PJs! It can also be tempting to just attend class, then go home and lock yourself up in your room. But a big part of law school (and your tuition dollars) is about community and making connections — you are going to class and learning with other future attorneys who you will probably see again in the workplace. Now that we have the opportunity to be in class together again, here are four ways to make the most of your in-person law school experience.
1. Go to class – don’t let Zoom become the norm!
I get it – sometimes I’d rather stay in my room and not leave the house, and sometimes I’d rather just watch the recording of a lecture and be able to pause it or listen to it at 2x speed. But if you’re anything like me, I find that I’m much more easily distracted in my room (especially when there’s no one next to me or behind me who would make me feel guilty if I started going on my phone or checking social media)! Class has become one of the few blocks of time where I can go 2 hours without looking at my phone. Take advantage of being in the same physical space with your professors and classmates. Ask a question in class if you’re confused about something. Discuss the lecture with your classmates right after, while the material and questions are still fresh in your mind. Go up to the professor after class or during break to get any lingering questions answered immediately, saving you time later on when you revisit your notes and realize that you’re still confused about something. Law school is not meant to be done in bed, and the quality of the education you’re getting will be much better in person!
2. Embrace the hallway conversations
The best connections often happen in the between moments and the “chance” encounters. Talk to the people in your class, the person sitting next to you if you don’t know them. Ask people, including people in other class years, to grab lunch or coffee. In my experience, law school can sometimes feel less community-oriented than college did — in law school, many people have family obligations and don’t tend to linger on campus, most people don’t live on campus, and there are fewer opportunities for people to coalesce and naturally interact. I’ve found that I’ve needed to be really intentional about spending time with classmates and friends.
3. Utilize the school’s resources
I like studying in my room, but sometimes this is not the most effective way for me to study, as I can often get distracted. I’ve tried spending more time in the library and have found that treating law school as a 9-5 job can be effective. When I’m in the library, I have a stronger urgency to make the most of my time there and do what I came there to do. Plus, you can take advantage of your school’s resources, including quiet study spaces, standing desks, even electricity (included in your tuition!).
4. Get involved with student org, networking, and social events at your school
Student organizations are a great way to meet students, especially in other class years, who have similar interests and identities as you. Not only do board members spend a lot of time planning events for the benefit of the student body, but they are also often useful ways to learn about a career path you might be interested in. And if that’s not enough incentive, you often get free food (another perk of being in-person)! Sometimes orgs will hold social events, which are opportunities to get to know other students in a casual, low-stakes setting. If an org is hosting a networking dinner with a firm, sign up! These are simple ways to get connected with attorneys and learn about their work and get advice. Don’t underestimate social events either, such as bar review, tailgates, and happy hours. Contrary to what law school culture seems to say, you don’t have to drink to have a good time! During my 1L year, I met several of my classmates at bar review without going crazy. You can be selective about the ones you go to, as they can be draining, but it can also be fun, memorable, and an important part of your law school experience!
There may be parts of Zoom school that you miss. But when I spoke with law students who had to do their 1L year on Zoom, the biggest regret they had was the missed connections and experiences from not being in person with their new classmates and professors. So if we make a conscious effort to not take in-person school for granted, we can make the most of our in-person law school experience!
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