We all make mistakes when starting law school, but there are many things you will do right. The Law School Toolbox team is sharing the things they did right when starting law school so you can learn from their experience.
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.
What I Did Right When Starting Law School
- I went to office hours and talked to professors. I really think getting to know your professors is an important part of law school. And, most professors actually like talking to students. I was good about going to office hours and asking questions as they came up. Some of these professors became mentors to me later in my law school career.
- I kept up with the reading. Sometimes it was hard and frustrating, but I did my best to keep up with the reading. Falling behind in law school can be incredibly hard to come back from.
- I spent time with non-law school friends. I went to law school in a City where I was already living, so I already had a friend group here. It was great to spend time with non-law-school friends for a law-school reality check!
I sorted out my housing in advance, and picked the person I wanted for a roommate after meeting on the internet. Since we both arrived a few days before Orientation, we had time to go to Bed, Bath & Beyond and that sort of thing before school got too crazy. It was also handy that my roommate had lived in NYC for several years, so she could show me how to navigate the subway and knew which stores would deliver (which never would have occurred to me to consider as an option).
- I took at least a day off each week and still made time for breaks even when studying got intense. Having a day set aside for fun made me work harder and more efficiently.
- I was extremely judicious with my calendaring and goal setting. Making prioritized (numbered) lists of what I needed to accomplish each day, week, etc., putting all my exams in my calendar from day 1, and blocking off time in a google calendar really helped.
- I wrote practice exams and hypos throughout the semester. This was the number one best thing I could have done for my first semester grades.
I worked relatively hard. I also met a lot of people who are now part of my social and professional network.
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And if you’re starting law school, check out our course for incoming 1Ls: Start Law School Right. You’ll get the feedback and support you need to succeed in law school, from day one!
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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