If you are about to begin your law school career as a 1L, you are probably nervous because of horror stories you may have heard or seen on television. From the Socratic Method to the curve to mountains of reading, first year of law school is a daunting experience. Sometimes, the smallest tricks can make the most stressful situations a lot easier. Below are 5 small steps you can take to start off your first year of law school strong.
Write your notes where you can retrieve them anywhere at any time.
It is crucial to prepare for emergencies, especially technological emergencies. To avoid potential problems with having your notes on a malfunctioning computer, use a program that is retrievable on any device.
This tip helped me during the fall of my first year of law school when my laptop broke right before my contracts class. Thankfully, I wrote all of my notes on Evernote, an app that synced every note between my devices. I quickly pulled up my notes on my phone and continued with the class as if nothing happened.
Attend every Westlaw/LexisNexis event.
Being able to navigate a legal database such as Westlaw and LexisNexis is a vital skill that every law student should know whether for classes or internships. Almost every school hosts on-campus workshops with representatives from these companies who will demonstrate how to use these sites and provide advice that will make finding information more accessible. Legal research is a critical skill for your first-year writing class, so there is no better way to test out your new skills than for your memo- and brief-writing assignments. Plus, most internship and post-graduate jobs will expect you to be adept with using these tools for legal research.
Familiarize yourself with The Bluebook.
The Bluebook is the bane of all law students’ existence. This book guides you on proper style and legal citations. It is primarily used when writing memoranda and notes for law review and other law school journals. You should buy The Bluebook instead of renting it because you will need it throughout law school and during most internships and post-graduate jobs. Helpful tip: Tab each section. Your future self will thank you!
Check Bar Requirements.
During the early months of your first semester, check the bar requirements in the jurisdiction where you plan to take the bar. Some states have deadlines that occur during the first or second year of law schools. Additionally, it is helpful to know what subjects will be tested on the bar so that you can tailor your law school classes accordingly. If you take those classes, you will be familiar with those subjects and bar prep will truly be a review for you!
Tackle Virtual Learning with a Schedule.
The above tips are easily applicable to virtual classes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. While the pandemic may have altered the location of classes for many schools, how you study and prepare for law school will remain fundamentally the same. Most importantly, stick to a schedule and eliminate distractions such as social media and texting—stay focused on the material and stay on track, especially if you resume classes in person later.
Best of luck as you start your first year of law school! You will be a pro in no time.
As the pandemic goes on, law schools continue to deal with how classes will be held—online, on-campus, or a mix of both—many 1Ls are facing the challenge of not only starting law school, but doing so virtually. Returning law students at least have the experience of a partially remote semester under their belts and the benefit of having started law school under “normal” conditions.
The journey to becoming an attorney is a windy road filled with late-night study sessions, high-pressure exams, and tough competition—all of which can contribute to mental health challenges. With an estimated 40% of law students experiencing depression by graduation, it is important to understand that you are not alone if you are suffering from depression.