Students choose to prepare for law school in different ways – whether it’s taking a course to familiarize oneself with the law school environment or going on that last vacation before school starts. However, one type of preparation people often miss out on is deciding how they are going to present themselves in their law school environment. This is an important factor to consider since your professional reputation starts the first day of orientation. Here a few things to think about before your first day:
When Attending Social Events
Many law schools give cautionary tales about past students who drank a little too much at a school sponsored event and it has affected their job placements. While your reputation may not always be defined by one event, it’s important to present yourself in a manner that you’d be proud of. As a law student, I remember little about what a classmate said during class and more about how they acted at a Bar Review.
Respecting Your Classmates
As the famous quote goes, “what Susie says about Sally says more about Susie than it does about Sally.” From experience, law school can occasionally feel like junior high. With the high level of stress, it’s easy to want to deflect studying a few hours to talk with friends about the latest gossip between classmates. While you may want to indulge about what you heard from someone, it’s important to remember that gossiping is more a reflection of yourself.
Besides gossiping, with so much at stake your first year, it’s easy to get caught into the rat race of wanting to be the best. While there’s nothing wrong with that, you shouldn’t lose sight of how to treat people. I knew a classmate who checked out all the supplements he could for a class a few days before the final for the sole purpose of not letting anyone else use them. I don’t know his grades but that doesn’t matter because all I will remember was how he treated his peers and if I’m working at a law firm he wants to be hired at, that’ll be my opinion of him.
Deciding How to Dress
Unlike college, law school is a professional school and you should dress accordingly. I don’t believe it’s necessary to wear a suit or a blazer to each class, but taking an extra second in the morning to think about what you’re going to wear can make a huge difference. A crop top the first day of class is not a great idea and I promise you there is always time to shower.
Before Posting to Social Media
Social media can be a very dangerous medium. Future employers have access to your personal life and they can decide solely off that if you’d be a good fit for their company. Law schools, also, create Facebook groups and it’s likely your future classmates can gain an opinion of you before they even meet you, based off your Facebook profile. First impressions matter and you want to make it count. I recommend putting your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram on private and if you keep them public, ask yourself: “Would I want my future employer to see this?”
The way you represent yourself as a law student is just as important as the grades you get. A classmate may not remember the Torts grade you received your first semester but they’ll remember how you treated others and how you represented yourself. The good news is that you’re in control of your own narrative and every encounter you have is a chance to make a great impression.
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Other helpful posts:
- Pre-1L Summer Checklist
- The People You Will Meet in Law School
- Want to Get Good Law School Grades? Become a Self-Starter
- How to Think Like a Successful Law Student
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