6 Ways to Prepare for Your First Year of Law School

If you’re reading this article, you’re likely gearing up for your first year of law school — something that might feel really new, exciting, and possibly terrifying. One year ago, I was in the same exact position. Now, I’ve been reflecting on all the things I was doing at this time that turned out to be really helpful, and all the things I probably should have done differently. To make sure you’re ready to hit the ground running in just a few weeks, follow these tips.

1. Check your email

If there is any real way to prepare yourself for the start of law school, this is it. Schools send a ton of important information to students via their school email accounts, so if you’re waiting for some sort of law school guide to be mailed to you, know that you’re going to be waiting forever. Everything from instructions on how to set up your Canvas account to billing information and first assignments will be sent to your email, so start checking that BC account regularly if you haven’t already done so.

2. Get settled in your space

I decided to move from New York to my apartment in Massachusetts around one week before the first day of law school. On top of that, I had planned to go on vacation for the later half of that week. Don’t be like me.

If you’re moving, get into your new living space as soon as possible. Once school starts, you’ll want to know where everything is so you can get ready in the mornings without digging through boxes or fumbling around the kitchen. You also won’t want to be worrying about unpacking or buying odds and ends for the new space once assignments start rolling in.

Even if you aren’t moving (or if you already have), you can also do some reimagining of the space now to make sure you’re ready for the school year. For example, if you don’t already have a designated work space set up, now is the time to think about that. Make sure your desk has good lighting and is in an area that’s as quiet as you need it to be, and buy a chair that you won’t mind sitting in for hours on end.

3. Read for pleasure

I usually love reading in the summer but, if I’m being honest, I haven’t wanted to crack open a book since finishing my first year of law school. Take the time now to nurture that hobby, or get back into a reading mindset before law school by starting a light novel.

If reading isn’t your thing, you should use these last few weeks to do whatever it is that you like to do. No matter what your hobby is, you may have less time for it soon. Bake a cake, paint a picture, run a marathon — do whatever it is that brings you joy now, before you become busy with work.

4. Form good habits

New year, new you? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you think you’re going to begin a new and improved sleep schedule or gym regimen in September, that probably isn’t going to happen. I am all about taking the summer to sleep in and treat yourself, but keep in mind that it might be difficult to transition back into an academic routine if you don’t start laying the groundwork now.

Take this time to start on any habits you’d like to maintain for the school year. I already mentioned maintaining a healthy sleep schedule and going to the gym, but some other habits to consider include meal prepping for the week or turning your devices off 30 minutes before bed. If you start turning these tasks into habits now, it’s going to be easier to keep them going when work picks up in the fall.

5. Do your first assignments

Remember when I said I had planned to go on vacation in the days leading up to the start of law school? What I didn’t realize was I would have assignments to complete before that first day. Keep this in mind and prepare accordingly. Most 1L professors won’t start cold calling right away, but I was surprised to see that there often isn’t much build up or introduction before diving into the material. Start off on the right foot by doing the readings and taking notes so you can follow along during your first lectures.

6. Relax

All that being said, take these last few weeks before law school to just relax. Last summer, even though part of me thought I should be spending my time taking 0L prep courses or interning at a law firm, I chose to work at a day camp. I spent my days outside, did arts and crafts, went swimming, and ate ice cream. When classes started, I was no less prepared than everyone else.

Remember, law school is just school. You’ve had first days before and, given where you are now, you’ve done fine! Take a deep breath and spend this time doing what makes you happy.

Tess Halpern is a second-year student at BC Law, and Vice President of the Impact blog. Contact her at halperte@bc.edu.

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