Per the infamous adage, 3L year is when “they bore you to death.” By the time you reach your last year of law school, you’ve probably (hopefully) figured out the game. You’ve dealt with the 1L “scare,” the 2L “work,” and by this point you just want your bar card so you can practice already!
Your third year of law school can be important for several reasons, though (besides graduation!). So it’s crucial to pay attention, despite how mind-numbingly tiresome it may be. Here are a few things to consider as you try to wake up and keep your head in the game through the home stretch.
In law school, no one ever really tells you that when it comes time to study for the bar, you will basically be starting from scratch. By the time you graduate, you will be well-versed in “thinking like a lawyer,” but those course outlines you’ve saved from Torts and Corporations probably won’t be very useful. For the bar exam, you will need to re-teach yourself all the material, and believe it or not, you will most likely write completely new and different outlines. Does that mean you should coast through Wills & Trusts now? No! Even if you’ve stopped caring about your grades altogether (which you shouldn’t, see below), at least use the bar classes you are likely taking in your last year to learn the basics, familiarize yourself with important terminology, and give yourself a baseline for when bar review season starts.
If you still need to take the MPRE and you’re currently in a Legal Ethics or Professional Responsibility class, you can do yourself a huge favor by taking this class seriously. It may not be the most difficult course, and the MPRE is not the hardest exam you’ll ever take, but they are both required, and studying for one can help you pass the other. Besides, being an expert in the hardline ethical rules for the practice of law will make it easier to keep your law license safe once you get it.
Your GPA Is Still “Subject to Divestment”
As a 3L, you may think your GPA doesn’t matter anymore, but it does! Even if you have a job lined up, things can change, firms collapse, the economy can tank now or later, and you never know when you might need to be sending out your résumé again. Also, now that your classmates are “bored to death,” the competition (and the course curves) are probably a lot more relaxed. You may find it pretty easy to get As in classes with take-home papers, or earn CALIs in courses you’re actually interested in taking now that you have the freedom to choose some of your classes.
Someone May be Depending on You!
Now that you’re a 3L, you probably have the opportunity to work in an externship or clinic. Maybe you’re earning course credit dealing with real-world problems outside the classroom. In my last year, I took an Employment Law clinic and had the opportunity to represent an indigent client in a discrimination case against his former employer. No one, including the supervising professor or our client thought we would win, but we did! It was one of the most worthwhile experiences of my law school career. The client was so happy, he even wrote me an awesome letter of recommendation, which proved useful later.
Now Is the Time to Network
If you do nothing else in your last year, at least put in some quality time networking. The contacts you make now are valuable and can come in handy when you least expect it. What’s more, the professional bonds you forge now can last a life time and follow you throughout your career, no matter where you end up working. If you’re not networking now, you should be—even if you already have a job.
So, if you feel yourself nodding off and gliding effortlessly from the 2L slip into the 3L snooze fest, snap out of it! This is likely your last chance to truly be a student (let that sink in for better or worse!). You’ll see once you start practicing law, being in school can actually be a pretty wonderfully carefree and interesting lifestyle. And, you definitely have more time now than you will as a first year attorney, so make it count!
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And check out these helpful posts:
- The 2L Slip – Academic Success (or Lack of Success)
- The 2L Slip – Balancing On-Campus Interviews and Extra-Curricular Activities
- 3L Bar Exam Tip: Get Your Bar Admission Paperwork Together
- 3L Bar Exam Tip: Know Your State Bar Admission Requirements
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