Throughout law school, I have discovered things that are mysterious and tedious: from taking exams to choosing extracurriculars, from searching for jobs, clerkships, and fellowships to handling the logistics of bar admission. I am now a third year law student, but some things still remain a mystery and I often find myself full of questions. While law school administrators and professors offer helpful resources, I’ve leaned most heavily on the wisdom of students that have come before me. I find that their perspectives and advice to be the most practical, reliable, and insightful. Now as a 3L, I’ve made it a point to make myself available (whether in person, phone, or email) about topics on which I can offer my thoughts.
When you have a million questions, or when you are overwhelmed or confused, you may not even know where to start and what to ask. Below are some questions and sub questions that you can pose to the upperclassmen at your school. Even better, you may want to find students who can speak to the specific classes, professors, or legal organizations that you are interested in.
- What classes should I take?
- Given my legal interests, what makes the most sense to prioritize?
- What are some classes that would provide a good introduction to this topic?
- What are the classes you wish you would have taken?
- What professors do you recommend?
- What was it like in Professor X’s Y class?
- What have you heard about Professor X’s teaching style?
- What was the workload like in this class?
- Was this class more doctrine or policy heavy?
- How do I prepare for class?
- Where can I get used textbooks or buy them from other students?
- How thoroughly should I go through the readings?
- Should I take notes and how?
- How do I effectively study?
- How do you organize your outline?
- How do you make an attack/short outline?
- Do you use flowcharts or visual aids?
- Do you use flashcards?
- For this class, did you practice with multiple choice questions or essay prompts?
- What materials do you reference during the actual exam?
- How do I build relationships with my professors?
- Is professor X open to helping students outside of the class?
- If you aren’t comfortable with going to office hours, what other ways did you connect with the professor?
- Which professors have a reputation for being enthusiastic recommenders and advocates for students?
- What are other ways to get to know a professor whose class I have taken?
- Should I do directed research?
- How did you go about finding a research topic?
- How did you find your faculty advisor?
- What was the research and writing process like?
- Should I do an internship or externship during the school year?
Extra-curriculars and on campus activities
- How can I learn more about student organizations?
- Are there specific listservs I should join?
- What is the time commitment in this student organization?
- What are the leadership opportunities available?
- Should I join the law review/a journal?
- Why did you choose to/not to join law review/a journal?
- What was your experience as a journal editor?
- Were there opportunities to take ownership of your work?
- What were your favorite parts about working on a journal?
- What were your least favorite parts about working on a journal?
- Did you like that your journal was a generalized/specialized publication?
- What are your tips for the write-on competition?
- What are the pro bono opportunities available?
- Any opportunities that fit my specific legal interests?
- Are there any winter or spring break service trips?
- When do the applications open?
- Where can I learn more?
- Should I be a research or teaching assistant (RA/TA)?
- How can I find opportunities to be an RA/TA?
- What is the professor’s hiring practice – should I reach out to them or wait for an announcement?
- What did you get out of your position?
- How should I approach my job search?
- How did you decide which legal market(s) to look in?
- What is the legal market like in city X?
- What is the culture at this firm/nonprofit/government office/congressional office?
- What was your experience as an intern or summer associate there?
- How did you decide between offers?
- Should I apply for a clerkship?
- Why did you choose to/not to clerk?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of clerking?
- How do I go about learning more about a judge?
- How do you keep updated about recent judicial appointments?
You have the agency to craft a law school experience that fits your interests and goals. These are obviously a mere sliver of the many questions to continuously think about and collect advice on. I hope they serve as helpful starting points!
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