Per the oft-cited proverb, 2L year is when you’re supposed to be “worked to death.” As a 2L, the “scare” of the 1L year has dissipated, and the “bore” of being a 3L has not yet set in. Perhaps it is the decline of the curve, or summer vacation, but frequently, 2Ls begin to slip. They underestimate the difficulty of their second year, and their class rankings suffer as a result. What are the problem areas, and how can the 2L slip be prevented?
Problem: On-Campus Interviews
2L year usually starts off with OCI season. Some students will have upwards of 15 interviews to research, prepare for, and complete before they can settle into the routine of homework and uninterrupted lectures. What’s worse, call-back interviews are usually off-campus, which requires factoring in additional commute time too. Even if you’re not interviewing through the OCI program, the beginning of your second year will probably start off with at least some thought toward your 2L summer job and interviews you have hunted down yourself, which can also take up valuable time. If you’ve been spending time interviewing or preparing to interview, you could be in danger of the 2L slip.
Calendar like you’ve never calendared before. Keep track of all of your interviews, gym time, social events—whatever is going to be taking time away from studying—and block the hours out on an hour-by-hour calendar. Maybe try color coding it. Then, add in your ongoing static commitments, such as lecture. Your calendar will probably look pretty full, but seeing a visual representation of what time constraints you’re up against can help you be more proactive about carving out hours to study. Now, if you haven’t already, block out your final exams and number the weeks from your first final in decreasing order up until the present. That way, at a glance, you will be able to tell how many weeks you have until your exams.
Next, designate some calendar space each week to class reading, study time, outlining and, importantly, memorization and writing hypos. Once you have everything written in, don’t deviate from your plan if you can possibly help it! If you have to, at least make conscious decisions about which activity the time is getting cut from so you can make it up or redistribute as needed.
Problem: Advocacy Teams and Other Extra-Curriculars
2L year is the time for extra-curricular activities! As a 2L, in addition to spending time on OCIs, I was burning through extra hours leading 1Ls through the moot court program and scoring all their briefs and arguments, editing hundreds of citations for the Law Review, tutoring Torts and conducting 1L seminars on time management and outlining. These were all fantastic opportunities that I was glad I had, but they took up so much time! If you’re participating in something similarly overwhelming, what do you do to make sure your grades aren’t slipping?
Solution: Calendar Some More and Prioritize Like Crazy!
As I alluded to above, your calendar is your friend. If you’re ever uncertain about the time you will need to complete a somewhat open-ended activity, like editing or researching for a brief, overestimate. I also found it really useful in law school to keep an ongoing, numbered list of commitments and projects which I could prioritize and re-prioritize as necessary. This is a skill that also proved incredibly crucial when managing over 200 cases later as a practicing attorney. Write down everything on your plate and number them in ascending order starting with the nearest hard deadline.
Think of these tasks as concentric circles with you in the middle.You need to work your way through what is immediately ahead of you before you can focus on more tangential projects. It’s amazing the peace of mind that can come with knowing what is expected of you, and only having one or two things on your immediate list, rather than fifteen or thirty. Time management is also crucial. If you’re spending twenty minutes out of every hour getting a snack or checking social media, you’re not using this time to your advantage. Figure out a time management technique that works for you. Here is one of our favorites: Circles Method.
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And check out these helpful posts:
- How to Get Stuff Done in Law School
- Dealing with Law School “Time Regret”
- Being a Law Student and Functional Human Don’t Have to be Mutually Exclusive – Finding Balance
- How Many Weeks are Left Until Final Exams?
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