How to Prepare For and Succeed at Law School Orientation
As summer is coming to a close, incoming law school students are getting ready for law school orientation week. Preparing to begin law school can be very daunting. From getting your course readings completed to figuring out what to wear, just thinking about law school orientation can make even the most confident incoming law school student feel overwhelmed. Walking into an environment where you don’t know anyone or what to expect can be stressful. Here are some essential tips on how prepare for and succeed at law school orientation and beyond!
Hopefully, you made the most of your summer because it may be the last break you get for a while! If not, check out this Pre-law Bucket List. It’s not too late to get in one last vacation or long weekend before law school orientation begins. Now that you are rested and ready, here are some tips to make the most of orientation week and start your three years in law school on the right foot.
How to Prepare For and Succeed at Law School Orientation
Join your law school social network page and/or incoming 1L group page
Social media is a great way to make connections prior to law school orientation. Law schools often have a page for new students to join prior to the beginning of the school year. Another great way to make connections is to create a professional looking LinkedIn profile. Find other incoming law student profiles to expand your network! Additionally, there may be pre-orientation social events posted on the law school social network page. It is a good plan to attend them in order to meet some of your classmates prior to law school orientation week. This will allow new law students to comfortably walk into law school orientation and spot familiar faces. It will be challenging to prepare for and succeed at law school orientation without networking!
Walk through the law school campus prior to orientation
If you’re not sure where to go for orientation and that thought makes you a bit stressful, try doing a practice run! Once you receive your law school orientation schedule, visit the law school the week before to locate the classrooms and/ or spaces where you will be attending orientation events. Also, look at parking options to make sure you know where to park so you will be on time for scheduled classes and events. When orientation day arrives, you will know exactly where to go so you won’t be late for any of the events.
Plan your outfits for the week of orientation
The law school will likely send out an orientation packet that will include attire suggestions. If not, go to the law school website and social media to see if there is a dress code or pictures of students at previous law school orientation sessions. Next, prepare outfits for the week of orientation to ensure you won’t be scrambling around at the last minute to find a pair of shoes or to iron a suit jacket. Most law schools request that you wear business casual attire to most of the sessions and end with a more formal orientation day where you would wear a suit. Make sure to wear comfortable clothing and shoes. You will likely be walking around the law school, so save your 4 inch heels for another time! Here are more wardrobe tips if you are still having trouble figuring out what to wear to law school orientation. In order to prepare for and succeed at law school orientation, you need to look and feel your best!
Plan for lunch breaks
Lunch breaks during law school orientation week are often free time. It is a good idea to figure out if you are going to bring a lunch, go to a campus dining hall, or head off-campus to a local restaurant. Sometimes, your law school will even provide lunch for you on a day or two! If leaving campus, figure out how long it will take you to get there and back. Also, be flexible and prepare to change your plans if you are invited to eat with other law school students. It is important to have an initial plan in place to keep yourself fed throughout the week. Law school orientation days can be long and stressful, so it is a great idea to eat healthy meals if possible. It is essential to be well-rested and healthy to prepare for and succeed at law school orientation.
Buy your materials ahead of time
Do not make the mistake of waiting to buy your textbooks and course materials after law school has already started. You will be expected to have readings completed on the first day! Many students think they can get away with not purchasing casebooks, but it makes completing course readings incredibly challenging. Law libraries usually only have a few copies to loan out and most students are not willing to share casebooks because they are constantly using them. This List of 7 Essentials to Add to Your Law School Shopping List is a great place to start. You will absolutely need a working laptop, a backpack to carry your heavy casebooks around, and some pens and highlighters.
Prepare to learn and study before law school orientation
Learning and studying in law school is completely different than any type of schooling most people have ever experienced before. As you are gearing up for law school orientation, make sure to complete your assigned readings before setting foot on campus. Assignments can usually be found on your course “Twen” Westlaw page, Lexis course page or another platform that your law school might use. In order to survive the Socratic Method of questioning on the reading material at orientation and on the first day of class, take detailed notes. It is very important to make a strong first impression. Many law school students do not prepare for the first day and spend the rest of the semester playing catch-up!
Another great way to prepare for and succeed at law school orientation by is to check out the FREE JD Advising law school prep course. This is an incredible way to get a leg up on study skills, prepare for courses and exams, and understand legal terminology.
Our free law school prep course also covers the substantive law for each of the classes you will take your 1L year (Civil Procedure, Contracts, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Property, and Torts). Lastly, the program teaches you how to make a law school study schedule so you will stay focused and feel less overwhelmed when you start law school. We definitely recommend taking this before orientation week!
Succeeding at Law School Orientation
From the first day of law school orientation, expect a schedule packed with speakers, information sessions, and exciting events. A typical schedule will also include technology training, financial aid sessions, meeting professors, a tabling day for student groups, and may even include attending first sessions of your legal writing course. Here are more incredible tips on how to prepare for and succeed at law school orientation!
Put yourself out there and meet new people
Do not let the first day of law school orientation intimidate you! You have prepared for this and are ready to succeed. Be open and friendly to your fellow students. Remember that they are in the exact same position as you are and are likely nervous about law school orientation. Law school orientation is a great opportunity to network and gain allies. You will be spending the next three years of your life with these people, so orientation is the time to make a strong first impression on your classmates. Networking during law school orientation is also a great way to gain information and resources. When things get tough in school, often your classmates are the ones to help you though.
Be on time
There is nothing worse in law school than being late for orientation and courses. Professors are watching and noting which students appear to be motivated and ready to learn. Some professors even have rules that prohibit you from attending class if you are late. Start off on the right foot by showing up early or on-time for every law school orientation event! When you are an attorney one day, you will realize how important timeliness is in your job. Judges do not look kindly upon attorneys who are late for court.
Think about forming a study group
Orientation week is a great time to form a law school study group. Think about what your study schedule will look like and whether a study group will fit into your routine. You can also check out Should I Join a Study Group in Law School? to determine whether a study group will be beneficial to you. Often, study groups form during orientation week because you are meeting new people. You can prepare for and succeed at law school orientation by looking for other students who are interested in forming a group or who have similar learning styles.
Visit the JD Advising table or attend a bar prep information session
It is never too early to start preparing for the bar exam. A great way to learn about preparing to take the bar exam is to attend an information session like this one. JD Advising not only discusses the bar exam, they also give you tips and resources on how to succeed in your first year of law school. If your law school does not have a JD Advising table during orientation, check out our free resources here.
Visit the Law School Career Services Office
During law school orientation week, make sure to stop by the career services office, or better yet- make an appointment with a career counselor! It is never too early to start thinking about your career. Career counselors can help you craft a professional looking resume (even if you do not have a lot of career experience) and direct you to opportunities for 1L students. You may find a volunteer opportunity or externship that could lead you down your career path!
Further, the career services office will get you on track for planning your first full-time law clerk experience during your 1L summer. They have a wealth of information regarding fellowships, on-campus interviews, and both in-state and out-of-state clerk opportunities. Not only can the career services office help you score a 1L summer position, they will help you prepare for interviews and review your resume for errors. Another way to prepare for and succeed at law school orientation is by getting ahead of the game and visiting your law school career services office.
We should point out that some law schools restrict 1Ls from accessing employment postings until later on in their 1L year, so this option might not be available to all 1Ls right away.
Look for your law school mentor
If you know what area of law you are interested in, set appointments or attend office hours of the professors who teach those subjects. Meeting with professors one-on-one or in a small group is invaluable to finding a law school mentor. You might find that one of your professors is willing to mentor you, or may be able to connect you with someone in the legal field. Many professors attend law school orientation, so it’s a perfect time to meet them!
If you aren’t sure what field of the law you are interested in, visit with professors who teach different subjects and ask questions. A lot of students go into law school thinking they are going to practice in one area and end up in a completely different field. Make connections with mentors to help you decide what will be a good fit for you.
Final Tip: Start Preparing for Law School Orientation Today!
Now that you are feeling prepared and ready to succeed at law school orientation, start by applying these tips! You will definitely feel crunched for time when law school begins, so it is never too early to start planning. Law school orientation may seem stressful, but preparing for it can be fun. Start by going shopping for a new outfit to wear on your first day of law school orientation. Then ask a friend or family member to snap a picture of you looking professional and add it to your new LinkedIn profile! If you still have questions about what to expect, check out this ultimate guide to law school orientation. You’ve got this!