Five Tips for Starting Law School: With law school orientations set to being shortly, we thought it was appropriate timing to give our five tips for starting law school. These are things that you should keep in mind from the beginning of law school. These five tips for starting law school will help keep you balanced and grounded. They will help you succeed in law school. Not only that, but they maximize your chances of being employed after law school!
Five Tips for Starting Law School:
1. Make sure you really want to go to law school.
This may sound ridiculous, as many of you are reading this because you are going to law school. But really, it is important to think about why you are getting ready to embark on this lengthy journey. Are you doing it because this is something you have wanted for a long time? Are you doing this because your grandpa was an attorney? Or are you doing this because all of your friends are back in a professional school? Before you spend a ton of time, money and stress, make sure that this is what you want to do.
If you are unsure or better yet, even if you are sure, please, please spend some time talking to an attorney. Ask them questions about why they went to school. Or their quality of life. Ask them anything that you think is relevant to this decision. This small investment of time will be well worth the peace of mind!
2. Maintain balance.
Law school is a ton of work. However, it shouldn’t be your life and nor does it have to! If you treat it like a job and invest your time and energy into it appropriately—you can definitely spare free time. Many of our top-performing law students take designated time off each week and get plenty of sleep each night. Like any big change in life, adjusting to the law school schedule will take some time.
But don’t get off on the wrong foot by making law school your life. Maintaining balance also means making sure that you are eating healthy and getting exercise. Since your classes are on a set schedule take the time to map out how you will spend your time each week. Include things like when you will exercise, socialize, run errands and grocery shop. Some students even include things like their set “end time” for studying and their bedtime. If you are looking for a good law school study schedule template, see this post. Also, read this post called “how I took one full day off a week in law school” if you are wondering how you can schedule breaks into your study routine!
Networking doesn’t have to have a bad connotation to it! It doesn’t have to be handing out your business card to everyone or a one-sided endeavor. Think of it, instead, as creating relationships with all different kinds of people. This includes friends and professionals.
Surround yourself with a group of people in law school that are positive people who are relaxing to be around. don’t discuss or obsess over grades, that don’t dwell on an exam after the fact or those that aren’t “fake” happy when others land a good job. Doing this—choosing your “law school friends” wisely, will make your day-to-day quality of life much better!
There are many additional reasons why networking early is important. This is mainly because there is no guarantee that your law school’s career services department will be able to land you a job, let alone a job that you want. Further, the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” couldn’t be more relevant to things like landing jobs. By networking, even at short events like happy hours or school-sponsored lunches with firms, will help you meet all sorts of people.
It is true that many of those that you meet may not be the hiring partners of big firms or the owners of businesses. However, you will meet people that can influence the hiring partners or the owners of businesses. Thus, if these people that you take the time to meet and cultivate relationships with like you, then you are that much closer to landing the job that you want. Plus, the experience of networking, while it may not be “fun” at the beginning, in fact, it will likely be uncomfortable, is something that will get easier with time and will make you better at dealing with people generally. If you are looking for more networking advice, read this post on how to network.
4. Talk to your professors.
Believe it or not, professors are people too! They can be intimidating. However, they are the best underused resource. Many students wait until finals roll around to make an appointment to talk to their professors. This is problematic because your professors are likely to be frustrated when you come in and ask questions that you should have been asking months prior and they are super busy with students doing the exact same thing that you are doing.
Thus, if you make it a habit to stop by your professor’s office hours throughout the semester, asking relevant questions, you are not only likely to be better prepared than your peers, but you will be way more comfortable to ask those pressing last-minute questions (and you will likely get a better response than if your professor had no idea who you are). If you follow through with this tip you will find that your anxiety around finals will be substantially less and you will get the opportunity to meet some very accomplished attorneys (your professors!). Read this post on how to make the most of your professor’s office hours — what to do and what not to do!
5. Learn How to Excel in Law School from the Beginning
We have a post we recently wrote called “how to succeed in law school.” This post gives you ten tips to succeed in law school. These are things that you should be doing right from the beginning of your 1L year in order to succeed in law school. This includes: outlining (yes, start early!), memorizing your outlines, taking practice exams (we tell you which supplements to buy and which exams to focus on!), having a plan for your legal writing and research class, among others.
Do not wait for a semester of bad grades to start focusing on how to do well in law school. Instead, do it right from the beginning! Instead, take these tips for starting law school seriously, and do it right from the beginning!
We have helped many students succeed in law school (and succeed in and transfer to, prestigious law schools, such as the University of Michigan Law School, Cornell Law School, Duke Law School, among others.
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