Even if you’ve dreamed your whole life of becoming a lawyer, actually arriving for your first year at law school can be slightly overwhelming. No matter how prepared you think you are, you are about to be thrust into a competitive, fast-paced world unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. What better way to steel yourself than by taking advice from those who have gone before—not to mention from those who will make or break your grades? Read on for some salient advice for brand-new first year law students.
- Make Connections
While good grades in law school are critical for a successful career, almost as important will be the connections you make. Make an effort to make a good impression on your professors, who are typically the ones who will be able to give you excellent career references. And by building relationships with your fellow students, you are already setting up the professional network that will serve you well throughout your law practice.
- Prepare During the Summer
One of the hardest things about law school is the testing, so reading up about how tests are structured in law school and how you can best ace them is a smart step toward success. This is especially important since in most law school courses, your grade will be based solely on the final. And unlike many other courses of study, in law school being in the top 10 percent of your class can be the difference between getting a great job and not getting a job at all.
- Hit the Ground Running
Many summer associate positions and other opportunities are based solely on your first year grades, so you’ll want to start prepping for your final exams on the very first day. Most lawyers agree that meticulously outlining the notes and cases for each course so that you’ll be able to use them as a study guide rather than cramming before the final.
- Use Your Time Wisely
It’s important to know that law school is radically different from undergraduate education simply because of the number of hours you’ll have to put in: approximately 40 hours a week, and double that during finals. Students who don’t put in the time simply won’t succeed; however, equally dangerous is to spend plenty of time doing the wrong kind of preparation. Focus on learning the ins and outs of the cases and the big picture concepts at hand.
- Write Well
Although most students go into law school nervous about the Socratic method, that’s not what you’ll be tested on. Because the only work a professor will see from you is your exam, you’ll need to be adept at writing concise yet detailed, well-thought-out arguments. If you aren’t a good writer, getting a writing coach will be the single best thing you can do to prepare yourself for law school.
For additional tips on how to succeed, you can pick up this great book by Herbert N. Ramy, which is aptly titled… you guessed it, “Succeeding in Law School.”
While law school will take much of your time during the three years you spend on your education, it’s important to care for yourself as well. Make sure you eat well, sleep enough, and avoid doing things that will negatively affect your academic performance.
… On the fence about law school? Check out this humorous video!
- Advice for Brand New Lawyers from Michael Jaccarino (michaeljaccarino.wordpress.com)
- Making legal education more practical (lawprofessors.typepad.com)
- Law schools come up with genius solution for unemployed grads (theblaze.com)
- The 50 Best Law Schools In America (businessinsider.com)