Believe it or not, I have successfully made it through one month of my first year at law school. At the beginning of my journey, I did not know what to expect, so I was really nervous and unsure if I would be successful. In this first month I have transformed into a law student and I (hopefully) am understanding concepts of law. If you have yet to start law school, I have some good news for you: since I’ve already lived through my first month, I can provide you with some useful advice to make your first month that much easier! Here are some of my reflections on my first month of my 1L year:
Class Is Important
Despite some views, going to class is very important for your learning. Some people were able to get away with not going to class during undergraduate, but that is not the case for law school. Lecture time is an opportunity to discuss what you think you understood from a case while attempting to get to the importance of it. Go to class, it will be helpful to your understanding of law and acing your exams.
Knowing What To Read Vs. Knowing What To Write
Something that was a big struggle for me during my first month was figuring out what notes I needed to take during reading versus what notes I needed to take during class. Yes, you need to read the cases and understand what they say for the purpose of answering cold calls/participating in class. However, the class will help you understand what makes the case significant as per the topic matter. This will help you pull out the rule so you can later apply it to a fact pattern for the exam (or even future practice)!
Student Organizations Are Fun And Helpful
Since law school is already a big time commitment, many people feel like they do not have time for clubs or organizations. However, organizations are very important to partake in. Not only do they provide resources and networking opportunities, they are also looked at positively by future employers and provide a support system/mentors for you in law school.
Find Mentors Where You Can
I have been very fortunate in finding mentors. I currently have two upperclassmen mentors, one female attorney mentor, and a faculty mentor. These people have already walked a path similar to one that you are on now! Mentors can provide useful advice and resources while giving tips about class, employment, and future opportunities!
Friends/Support Groups Are Key
Your social/mental health is important. Having people inside and outside of law school are beneficial to your health and success. For me, I have my boyfriend, my family, and my close friends (law school and otherwise). These people help encourage you to do your best while also looking out for your best interests. Gather a group of people you can trust and build a system of support for your personal needs.
Find Time To Enjoy Yourself
Studying all hours of the day may sound appealing (yeah, no) but it is actually a really easy way to get burned out. If all you ever do is study and never make time for yourself, you will easily get sick of studying. Also, don’t feel guilty for not studying all the time, make time to relax a little!
Do Not Stress About Everything
The worst thing you can do for your success is to stress about literally everything about law school. Don’t get me wrong, you do need to think about that pending exam and being successful. This does not mean you have to worry yourself sick. Trust me, do not stress about every little detail about school, it will endanger your health and nothing is worse than getting sick in law school.
Overall: It Will Be Okay
Take a deep breath and sit down, I am here to tell you as a survivor of my first month, it will be okay. I am not going to lie to you though, the workload is consistent throughout your first year, but it does get easier to manage. You begin to understand the law more and are able to make connections to previous cases or topics. This will allow you to go through cases quicker and actually begin to understand what is happening in class. If you are lost now, it is okay, you’ll get there. Law school is challenging but you can make it through with hard work and a little bit of encouragement!
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