Starting law school is an exciting transition in life! You are beginning the life-changing but challenging adventure of becoming an attorney. Although this new step may be exhilarating, starting law school can also be a difficult and terrifying feat! There are so many unanswered questions so it can be hard to know if you are handling things correctly. Since you’re just starting law school, how are you supposed to know what to expect or how things work?? Fear not my friends, I have successfully survived law school and have the benefit of hindsight! When I was a young 1L, I felt lost. I am a first generation college student and was very unsure of myself. This led me to find the very site you are looking at now! In order to help you through this life-altering moment, I have come up with some questions that I had as a 1L and provided answers based on my experience. My goal is to help clear up some misconceptions of the first year of law school and ease some of the concerns you may have!
I haven’t been Cold Called yet, should I Panic??
First, take a deep breath. Feel better? Good. In the moment, cold calls seem TERRIFYING. I get it, I was worried about looking stupid in front of my colleagues and professors. But honestly, cold calls should not be that scary. Professors do not expect you to know everything about the law (they are actually there to teach you!!) And your classmates are more concerned about getting called on than what you specifically say (except maybe the gunners). And even if you flub a bit, your classmates are likely to forget by the end of the day. As long as you do the preparation, you will be okay!!
Does GPA Really Matter?
Everyone’s favorite answer – it depends. In the grand scheme of things, no. GPA itself does not matter, your overall package does. However, you should still aim for success and some employers do care about your GPA specifically. At OCI (On Campus Interviewsing), especially the ones during summer/fall of your 2L year, firms will only be able to see what your GPA was for 1L year. And firms that offer summer associate positions do look at GPA (among other factors) in evaluating candidates. Although this is true, it is not the end of the world if you do not achieve all high marks. In your first year, your grades are likely curved. Most schools allow professors that teach upperclassmen electives to choose whether or not they will curve their grades meaning your grades will likely go up in 2L and 3L years. So you do not have to completely stress out about what your GPA is and how that one bad grade you got will completely “destroy” your GPA.
When should I Worry about a Job?
Another it depends. Your end goal post-law school (and after the bar exam and certification) likely is to be employed as a lawyer or in some legal capacity. So you should be keeping this in mind as you go through law school. You need to gain valuable experience in law school that will assist you in your practice. This means that you should participate in co-curriculars and clubs and also elect to take practical skills courses. However, you should also determine what your financial situation is and what your post-graduation goals are. Personally, I knew I needed to work during school and was interested in torts and negligence. So I got a job at a personal injury firm in my 1L year and now I have been hired on as an attorney. Also, many people go for elusive “summer associate” positions because firms will offer attorney positions following graduation. It is highly suggested that you spend your summers between 1L and 2L years and 2L and 3L years doing something (studying, working, volunteering, interning, etc) related to law. You should try to find an area of law that interests you, so that you can get relevant experience and also decide if you really want to practice it. Ultimately, you will have to determine for yourself when and what kind of job you get during law school.
What should I Expect Going Forward?
Law school is stressful. True story – my friends and family have noticed a significant difference in my health and wellbeing since finishing law school. With that being said, that doesn’t mean that law school will be the end of you. It is challenging and difficult at times. You may get frustrated A LOT. At the end of the day, however, you are pursuing your dreams, learning so much and gaining valuable skills and connections that will stay with you throughout your practice. Each year of law school is difficult in different ways. But with each year, you will persevere and be shocked by your own abilities. You will make it through your first year, and you will graduate law school! Stay focused, work hard, and surround yourself with a great support system. You’ve got this!
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