After a stressful cycle of law school applications, you’ve finally picked your home for the next three years – Congratulations! You may be thinking, so what’s next? You may have heard that the first year of law school, or 1L, is not easy. Whether you are transitioning from working or from your undergraduate studies, law school will be a big change.
In order to set yourself up for success, it is a good idea to plan ahead and take care of the smaller things that create unwelcome interferences. You don’t want unexpected tasks to punctuate your busy 1L schedule! This article discusses some of the things you should consider before starting your first day of law school.
1. Moving arrangements
Moving apartments is already a hassle, not to mention moving across states or from one coast to the other. While a change of scene is very exciting, there are many logistics involved. Give yourself plenty of time to learn about neighborhoods in the area, find a location and layout that works for you, hire a moving company, and set up the furnishings in your new space. If you need to commute to school, you should also plan ahead for the transportation – getting a car, buying a bike, learning about bus or train routes, understanding traffic patterns – so that you can get to school efficiently and on time.
2. Setting up a backup system
In law school, you will have a lot of important class notes, readings, sample exams, and writing assignments stored on your computer. Backing up your files is essential. In case anything happens to your laptop – whether it unexpectedly shuts down, you forget to bring it to school, or spill that sticky cup of vanilla latte on it – you can access those documents another way. Your school likely offers cloud services like Google Drive and Box, so just ask! You can also purchase your preferred backup system or backup your files onto a hard drive periodically. It’s worth the peace of mind. Also consider other technology tools that will make your life easier.
Law school is expensive, and being smart with your finances will pay dividends later on. Getting into the practice of setting a budget and sticking to it is helpful for many reasons. This not only keeps you from overspending on things that you don’t need and ensures that you maintain an emergency fund, but also gives you the liberty to indulge in small pleasures like eating out or going to a concert and keeps you on track for saving for bigger purchases and long term goals. Use budgeting apps and templates to develop a system that works best for you.
4. Health insurance and medical care
Law school is a marathon, not a sprint. It is critical to stay physically and mentally healthy so that you can thrive both in your studies and in your daily life. Because healthcare options change with location, you should determine what insurance coverage you need and want. Students can purchase health insurance through their school, or you might be able to continue your old plan. This is also a good time to look carefully at your coverage so you know about the services you can take advantage of. Additionally, if you want specific medical providers with whom you’re comfortable, you might consider spending some time learning about the providers in your law school’s area, so that you don’t have to worry about it when a medical problem comes up.
5. Finding childcare or work
Students with families or other financial obligations need to juggle a lot on top of attending law school, including finding childcare and looking for supplemental income opportunities. Starting early on these will help alleviate stress later on.
6. Learning about your campus and food options
When you get the chance, go to your law school campus to get a sense of where things are. In particular, figure out where your first-year classes will meet. Don’t worry about memorizing everything though; as time goes on, you will get very familiar with the location of the cafeteria, library, professors’ offices, classrooms, and bathrooms. Another question to ponder is whether you want to pack lunch or to buy food on campus. With the former, you should ask whether there are kitchen amenities in the law school, such as a fridge, microwave, or toaster oven. And if you prefer to buy lunch, learn about the surroundings lunch spots, and their wait times during the rush hour (or figure out if there’s an order-ahead option).
7. Get to know your classmates
Your future classmates may become your study group buddies, friends, colleagues, or even clients. Before everyone becomes consumed by the stressors of 1L year, see if you can meet with some people and learn about their backgrounds, legal interest, and hobbies. Finding a community at school will sustain you through the good times and bad.
Looking for some help to do your best in law school? Find out about our law school tutoring options.