Published: Aug 23, 2021
Starting as a 1L in law school can be extremely daunting. No doubt, you’ve seen movies and television shows portraying law school as a horrifying place where professors try to embarrass you, and your classmates are your worst enemies. But in reality, law school can provide incredible life experiences and be a place where you can figure out your interests and skills. Read on for tips on how you can make the most of law school and set yourself up for success for both graduation and your future legal career.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Adjusting to law school is hard for every first year. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professor, mentor, or upperclassman for help. They remember how scary being a 1L is and will be willing to share some advice that may make the transition easier for you. Having someone who can understand your experience will benefit you as they have been there and have learned from their experiences. If your classes are still online, don’t worry—there are still ways to build a professional relationship with your professor virtually.
Supplemental Tools Will Clarify
Do you have a class that does not make sense no matter how much you prepare? This is no reason to panic and doubt your abilities. Some material just appears more complicated than it should. Supplemental tools are there to help you work smarter, not harder. They break down topics in a way that allows you to comprehend the material. Consider searching your school’s library to see if it has any supplemental tools, such as Examples & Explanations or Emanual Law Outlines. There are also online bar prep companies such as Barbri and Themis that offer outlines and courses to help you understand your courses. These tools will allow you to show up to your next class or exam with confidence.
Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back
As a 1L, you may be worried about fitting in and not taking any risks or standing out. But you only have three years to make the most of law school—take the plunge and participate in the activities that interest you! You don’t want any regrets over not trying new things when it is time to graduate. Participating in extracurriculars activities will allow you to build valuable skills and experiences that will impress employers. Additionally, you will be able to explore different areas of the law and discover something about yourself and your legal career goals. How will you ever know if litigation is your forte unless you try?
Research Career Paths
As mentioned above, you only have three years at law school before you will have to take the bar and start your legal career. The best way you can prepare for your future is by researching potential future paths. Do you want a summer associate position at a BigLaw firm? Research the firms (using Vault, of course!) to learn more about their practice strengths, culture, hiring criteria, and more. Want a job as a government attorney? Now is the time to research what you will need to do to make that possible. It is best to do the research as a 1L so you have your entire law school career to participate in activities that will bring you closer to your goal—from moot court to internships, and more.
Trial and Error
This is your first time in law school, which means this is a foreign place for you. Studying for law school exams is an entirely new challenge for most. It will take some trial and error to figure out the best way that you learn. Some people succeed with study groups, while others thrive studying solo. Some learn best handwriting notes, while others prefer to type everything out. Some like to outline, while others prepare flash cards. Figure out how you learn best and stick with it! If you aren’t top of your class, reevaluate your study habits and meet with your professor during office hours to seek out additional study materials.
Remember that 1L year is what you make of it! It can be the best time of your life and can set the foundation for your future career. Vault Law is here to guide you through law school and your legal career with our in-depth career advice, law firm profiles, and detailed career guides.
The first month of 1L year is like a whirlwind—from trying to survive the Socratic Method to learning how to outline effectively to figuring out a study method that will land you on top of the curve. And while you are just trying to stay afloat, you may be hearing buzz about post 1L summer jobs, OCI, journals, clinics, and employer receptions.
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.
If you are a 1L, don't miss this chance to hear from experts at top law firms as they discuss legal careers, law school advice, and diversity initiatives!
It’s never too early to start planning for your legal career—even if you are only in the first semester of your 1L year.