The law school education system is defined by several popular characteristics, such as grueling workloads, stressful exam periods, and a lack of life apart from law school. Pre-law students are constantly forewarned about the amount of work that is required, and accepted applicants receive a steady stream of advice about these topics from the moment they are registered extending through to the final day of 1L orientation.
Other tips often involve the type of obstacles law students should be prepared for and how to handle them practically, such as learning time management skills or treating law school like a job. By the end of the first week of 1L year, law students are well-informed about two primary things: the importance of maintaining stellar grades and the future difficulties of studying for, and subsequently passing the bar. The list of caveats for law students seems endless, but, in fact, are actually just recycled examples of comparable advice that focus on similarly stressed pointers, namely, balancing time with schoolwork and how to pass exams.
While being aware of and following this guidance is crucial to excelling in law school, there are several items that most law students will encounter, but are frequently overlooked through the guidance process. Oftentimes law students will not be made aware of these extra responsibilities until they are either forced to experience it firsthand, or at the brink of scarcely missing certain deadlines or specifications. The following are some of the obligations that you should definitely be made aware of as a law student.
1. The MPRE
Start thinking about the MPRE during the summer after you have completed your 1L year. Not only should you take this exam as early as possible, but it is only offered three times per year, and you will have to take a legal ethics class prior to registering. This knowledge is useful to become familiar with before selecting your 2L courses, so you can create your schedule accordingly.
2. Core Classes
Law schools have specific ABA requirements to meet, meaning there are particular core classes that all law students must take before the bar exam, i.e., criminal procedure, evidence, and corporations. There are two reasons that you should take these during your 3L, not your 2L, year. The first is that many law students will try to complete their core requirements early, so that their 3L year will seem easier. Instead of competing with your entire class, take the classes that interest you during your 2L year to bolster your GPA. You will also have colleagues to ask about particular professors, borrow textbooks from, and ask for outlines. Second, the bar is several weeks after graduation. The later you take those core requirements, the fresher they will remain in your memory and the less cramming you will have to do before the bar.
3. The Truth About Extracurriculars
Extracurriculars look great on resumes because it shows you have more passion for particular interests than just showing up to class to get a degree. Unfortunately, aside from talking points during an interview, employers often overlook these types of activities. If you truly want to participate in a specific club, do not let this tip deter you, but know that more pressing extracurriculars, such as moot court or law journals, are both stressful and require a lot of responsibility and time. Consider securing an internship or externship instead because not only does it look great on your resume, but it also offers experience, potential academic credit, and no additional homework.
4. Job Hunting
If you held a job before entering law school then you are already familiar with the job hunting process. Regardless, finding a job or legal internship will require ample time. When you tack on class, studying, and extracurriculars, combined with having to find a job, those daylight hours shrink even further. Make sure you plan ahead and factor in time for things such as applications and interviews.
Law school years may fly by, but days seem to crawl. Sometimes you will want nothing more than to dash out of class to get home to study and sleep. Although you do not have to do this on a weekly basis, you should try and make an effort to visit professors during their offices hours and set aside time to mingle with colleagues. Your classmates will serve as your colleagues in the real world since everyone is graduating within the same time span. Be respectful and kind to them because you never know who you will run into at a job or need a favor from in the future. As for professors, they often double as attorneys, so they have a wonderful network you can tap into while still in school. This is crucial because professors will not be as available to you once you graduate. Do not waste the opportunity to get to know them. Bottom-line: focus on growing your network both with colleagues and professors now.
There is a lot of information regarding law school for prospective, as well as current law students. While it is extremely important to concentrate on everything from 1L orientation to general advice about succeeding in law school, it is also very useful to seek out the unconventional tips because you never know when one tip may advance your law school experience. Finally, do not forget to pass on helpful information to new or younger colleagues. You’re all in this together, and should help each other!
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