It’s hard to believe that 1L year is almost at its end. We made it past the awkwardness of orientation. We survived finals. We chose our first elective. And yes, we’re all still alive to tell the tale. If I could go back to August and offer my first-day-of-school-self some advice, here’s what it would be:
- Law school is hard for everyone. There’s no denying the fact that law school is a challenge. However, there were times when I was sitting in Civil Procedure wondering if I was the only one confused by the Federal Rules. My TAs repeatedly told me I was not alone and I just needed to give it time to sink in. Needless to say, they were correct and many of my classmates were having similar concerns, whether it was in the same class or others. However, I wish I had recognized that everyone struggles in one way or another.
- 1L year is more than just class and readings. Would you believe me if I said 1L year was actually pretty fun? You are surrounded by 200+ people all hoping to make lifelong connections in a new city. Explore Boston, dress up for law prom, and break out your winter gear for Ski Trip! Your classmates will be more than just future colleagues; they will become some of your closest friends.
- Evaluate your study habits; adapt if necessary. Law school is not college, and you shouldn’t treat it as such. You might have been really great at cranking out a paper in one night as an undergrad, but that likely won’t work in law school. Be prepared to change your study habits, and really think about whether your time management and organizational skills are as good as you once thought they were. I personally found taking notes by hand in class and typing them up into an outline was an effective method.
- Think and talk about things other than law school. It’s true. If you go home for winter break and all you do is talk about school, your friends will probably get bored pretty quickly. However, thinking and talking about things other than law school also provides you with a much-needed mental break. Remember that a world exists outside the law school bubble.
- Speak up in class and connect with your professors. Eighty people in a classroom can make it difficult to participate. And if you are anything like me, the thought of going to office hours when you aren’t even sure your professor will recognize you is a little unsettling. However, knowing that everyone has a bad cold call experience makes speaking up a little less daunting, and realizing that your professors actually want to know about your interests and aspirations can completely change how you approach 1L year. Go the extra mile early on!
- Get involved in activities that interest YOU. BC offers so many ways to get involved. You can join student organizations, participate in pro bono spring break trips, become a 1L representative, and much, much more. You shouldn’t feel obligated to sign up for every list that comes your way, but definitely try to expand your horizons. You might find a new interest, or even your career path. However, I would definitely caution against signing up for things simply because you view them as “resume boosters.”
- You will get a 1L summer job. Hearing from Career Services during orientation was a little intimidating but beyond helpful. When it was time to start applying for summer jobs, I already had my resume finalized and cover letters underway. I knew that I was interested in working for a judge this summer, which meant my materials would ideally be sent out before New Year’s. Although a summer job seems far away during first semester, do all you can to have your materials ready to go. And, I would definitely suggest that you cast a wide net when it comes to type of internship and location.
- Rely on upperclassmen for advice. The upperclassmen were in your shoes not that long ago and are more than happy to help. They are great resources when it comes to the job search, advice on professors, outlines, and life in general. Having such a supportive community at BC really made the difference for my 1L year.
- School is your #1 priority. Above all, I think it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that you are training to become a lawyer. There are a lot of changes happening once you begin law school and it’s easy to become distracted. Remain focused, take advantage of your time here, and learn all that you can. Your hard work really will pay off in the long run.