While most law students gasp for the summer as the period of well-deserved rest, the interim months provide a great opportunity to rewhip new discipline into a tired routine without having to open a casebook. Pursuing deliberately curated activities that surreptitiously infuse discipline into daily life may indirectly help breed academic discipline into mentality – a clear advantage come the fall semester.
Whether you’re about to enter law school and this summer represents your last chance to prepare for the academic marathon that awaits, or you’re a law school veteran hoping to breathe fresh energy into your routine, there are small daily adjustments in multiple areas of your life that can influence the way you think—without having to enter the library.
My first semester, I struggled with figuring out the right balance in my diet as I became an overnight vegan shortly before starting classes. Figuring out how my body reacted to the change was an extra stress-variable that added to the list of difficulty with my first semester. The dramatic change required adjustments as I found my brain-power wilt due to insufficient protein. A recently converted vegetarian classmate similarly confessed feeling light-headed at times. Eventually, I found an appropriate balance by shifting to a pescatarian diet, but in retrospect, I wish I had experimented during the summer, rather than during the semester.
Likewise, summer is a great time to bid farewell to or catch up on television. While some classmates recommend watching Making a Murderer, Suits, and The Good Wife for their exposure to the legal profession, an alternative involves no legal thinking. I found that what inspired me most to work hard in my studies, and from which I drew motivation when mine waned, were documentaries of stories of artists and dancers passionate about pursuing a vocation. As much as law students like to think so, the legal professional does not have a monopoly on discipline. Discipline manifests itself in the hours in a bakery, in the repetitive pliés at the barre. My favorite documentaries are Ballet 422 whose young New York City ballet dancer takes on a pioneering choreography commission, Jiro Dreams of Sushi whose Japanese sushi master has never taken a day off, and Chef’s Table, which investigates a different world-class chef’s story of consuming passion and motivating fear in each of 7 episodes.
Summer is also time to recenter or discover your spiritual life by regularly visiting your preferred religious establishment or by spending time with the people or natural landscapes which give meaning to your inner being. Strengthening my faith my first semester proved essential in dealing with the doubts and stress that came with the exam wave.
While most discussion about organization relates to structuring legal arguments, organizing a closet can be equally vital to success. The summer before law school was a seemingly-insignificant but incredibly-wise time investment. Not only does the organization save me time every morning when choosing my clothing, it also gives me mental clarity. If you’re entering you’re second or third year, it can also be a way to organize your new professional attire. Once the semester starts, the discipline of spending a few minutes picking up and cleaning my desk proved a way to feel in control, save time and clear mental and physical space.
Laying on the couch may seem tempting considering the only surface our bodies know during the school year are desk chairs during the semester, however even the workouts you choose are an opportunity to culture discipline. While I had usually opted for varying exercise classes that I could never consistently commit to due to changing gym schedules, I found that once I invented my own program that involved following Youtube videos on ballet and yoga, it was easier to be disciplined and the repetitive quality was relaxing. Everyone has a different preference and body-type, but taking advantage of the summer is a good head start. A fellow classmate’s new pilates routine brought her a physical confidence that is apparent when she participates in class. When I complemented her, she said it takes her about a semester to figure out how much time she had available for working out. Using the summer to play with different times and workouts may prove useful later one.
I also found that just as the movements informed my posture, they indirectly reinforced discipline into my mentality, which eventually translated into academic rigor. And of course, proper posture when standing for cold-calls exudes confidence.
Many students use the summer as the liberation to enjoy a flexible schedule, opting for late night Netflix binging and morning sleep-ins. However, summer is also a prime time to figure out when you are most productive and what sleeping schedule fits your preference. Some students go to bed at sundown, and wake-up at dawn, because they find it optimizes their waking hours. Of course, going to sleep when tired is the easiest way to fall into a natural cycle, however, one part is a bit harder: separation anxiety with electronic devices. Leaving my phone far from bed has been the easiest way to force myself to sleep faster, as it bypasses temptation to web-surf or text. Moreover, recent studies show that the shorter-waved light from electronic devices can inhibit the release of melatonin – the sleep-inducing hormone.
— – —
Want more law school tips? Sign up for our free mailing list today.
And check out these helpful posts:
- Tips for Legal Writing in Your Summer Job
- How to Evaluate Your Summer Legal Job Experience
- Writing Effectively in Your Summer Legal Job
- Making the Most of Your Summer
Looking for some help to do your best in law school? Find out about our law school tutoring options.