Orientation is an important part of the starting law school process. In this article, the Law School Toolbox experts share with you some suggestions for surving and optimizing law school orientation.
Before you read the tips, meet the individuals who are sharing advice with you.
Lee Burgess is the co-founder of Law School Toolbox. She graduated cum laude from the University of San Francisco School of Law, was a TA for Contracts and Torts, and was the Managing Editor of the USF Law Review. Lee left her law firm job and became a private California bar exam tutor and law school tutor when she realized her passion for helping students succeed in law school and pass the bar.
Alison Monahan is the co-founder of Law School Toolbox. She graduated from Columbia Law School in 2006 as a Kent Scholar, a Stone Scholar, and a member of the Columbia Law Review. She was also a Civ Pro TA. After law school, Alison clerked for a federal District Court judge and worked as a patent litigator in a large law firm in San Francisco. She eventually left to start The Girl’s Guide to Law School®, which is a leading resource for individuals embarking on a legal career.
Ariel Salzer is a law school and California bar exam tutor for Law School Toolbox and Bar Exam Toolbox. She has taught everything from conjunctions to calculus on four different continents. As a student at the University of San Francisco School of Law, Ariel tutored Torts and led 1L workshops on time management, exam preparation, legal writing, and outlining. After practicing law as a product liability litigator in California for a number of years, Ariel found her way back to teaching and now enjoys helping students find success in their law school classes and on the bar exam.
Ben Nelson is a law school tutor and California and Oregon bar exam tutor for Law School Toolbox and Bar Exam Toolbox. As the oldest child of two professors, he realized from an early age that he wanted to strike out on his own. He eventually settled on law school and graduated from Columbia in 2014 as a Kent Scholar and a Stone Scholar. When he is not tutoring, Ben is a legal fellow for Earthjustice in Denver, CO where he works to protect the iconic American Southwest and Rocky Mountains from overuse.
Suggestions for Surviving/Optimizing Law School Orientation
I didn’t enjoy law school orientation all that much. I felt like everyone was nervous and it felt a whole lot like high school to me (I didn’t really love high school, either). I think my best advice is to try to meet people. A lot of times you can make friends during orientation that help you though those first few weeks of the semester. Try to hang out with people from your section, because those will be the folks you spend the most time with. And if you don’t enjoy orientation, don’t worry about it! School will start soon enough and you will be able to get into the swing of things.
- If you know you’re on the introverted side of the equation, go to events with a friend (even if it’s a brand-new friend). It’s easier to enter a crowded room with someone, as long as you don’t use them as a crutch all night long.
- Don’t worry too much about Orientation. Mine was interrupted by a blackout, and we never made up most of the sessions. The world continued turning. And, unless people are in your classes, you’re unlikely to see most of your classmates all that often during the first year, so don’t stress out too much if you don’t make a ton of new BFFs during Orientation. There’s time.
- Don’t get sucked into the hype of joining extra-curricular activities from day one. You don’t need to spend time on all of that stuff until you get your bearings. If you want good outlines, figure out which group has those and join it, but don’t feel pressured to go to the meetings. It’s understood at a lot of schools that 1Ls will join and attend the first meetings just for the outlines and food.
- Don’t be surprised if it’s a lot like high school: lockers, cliques, gossip.
Be sure to spend as much time as possible socializing and meeting people, but don’t drink so much you don’t show up. Be ready to start seriously working on day one of the first semester. No extended orientations.
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Other helpful pre-1L posts:
- Pre-1L Summer Checklist
- How to Get The Most out of Law School with Extracurricular Activities
- How Being a Law Student and a Functional Human Being Don’t Have to Be Mutually Exclusive
- How to Start Law School Right
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