Summer Before Law School Checklist
Congratulations on getting accepted into law school! What an accomplishment! Your first year of law school matters so much because it often affects job prospects after your 1L year as well as after graduation. Accordingly, you should do everything you can to get your 1L year off to a great start. In this blog post, we’re providing you with a comprehensive list of things you should consider doing this summer, in preparation for your 1L year! Continue reading for our Summer Before Law School Checklist!
Summer Before Law School Checklist
The Practical List
Pay deposits and fully accept your seat
Typically, your first deposit due date is around April 15 or May 1. Seat deposits can range between $200 and $1,000, and they are usually non-refundable. Given that many law schools offer admissions on a rolling basis, your first deposit due date could be as late as June or July. You should refer to your acceptance letter for specific instructions.
Also, contact your law school’s financial aid and admissions departments to make sure that the financial deposits and other requested information you may have sent have been processed.
Get a copy of your class schedule
Depending on your law school, you may receive your official schedule before orientation. Many law schools assign you to a section or classes as a matter of course (so you don’t actually have to sign up for classes!). Typically, the classes you will take during your first year of law school include the following:
Civil Procedure: Civil Procedure (Civ Pro) is a procedural class that covers the basics of how a lawsuit is filed in federal court, when federal courts have the power to hear a case, and where to file a lawsuit.
Contracts: Contracts is all about deal-making. You learn how to form a valid contract as well as the consequences of failing to abide by its terms.
Torts: A tort is a civil wrong, like battery, assault, trespass, or negligence. Tort cases can be very interesting!
Real Property: In Real Property, will learn about ownership of property, the right to use someone else’s land, adverse possession, easements, present and future interests, and other concepts that may be new to you.
Criminal Law: Criminal Law tells you what is required of a crime, such as murder. You may also have to learn two sets of laws—common law and the model penal code law—for every crime.
Constitutional Law: Your 1L Constitutional Law (Con Law) class will likely focus on the different branches of government and their respective powers. You might also learn about individual rights and their associated limits.
Legal Research and Writing: This class is important. You will learn the basics of researching, how to write a legal memo, and how to write a brief.
Your law school’s bookstore should have all of the casebooks you need for your first semester. And yes, used casebooks are just fine. If you can purchase textbooks at your school’s bookstore at significantly discounted rates, great. Otherwise, you should consider searching online for the best deals.
Find out your orientation schedule
At orientation, you will meet your classmates and professors and learn about your law school’s expectations. Orientation will provide some insight regarding how much you will be studying, community service, upholding justice, and work/life balance. You will go on a campus tour, and you may have the opportunity to pick up the books you’ve ordered from the bookstore. Your attire should be business casual, and your look should be clean and polished. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Law School Orientation for more information!
Create a study schedule
Making a realistic study schedule can significantly reduce anxiety and assist you with completing all of your tasks. In order to plan your ideal study routine, chose when and where you will study. Next, for each week of the law school semester, plan what you will study. Even more, your schedule should include daily obligations and tasks, such as eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, taking breaks, and commuting to/from school.
Ideally, schedule time to do some of the things you enjoy, such as engaging in your hobbies, and participating in religious and family commitments. More, be sure to schedule 6–8 hours of sleep per night.
Once the semester begins, and on a weekly basis, you will need to plan your daily to-do list and incorporate the same into your study schedule. This list should incorporate everything that you want to get done each day for the whole week. For 1Ls, here is a standard to-do list to get you started:
- Go to class
- Develop your outlines
- Review your outlines
- Practice exams
- Work on legal writing assignments
- Prepare for class (read cases)
- Other: do something you enjoy, exercise
For more study schedule tips, check out our blog post: What should my weekly law school study schedule look like?
Find out your first-day reading assignments
You will need to complete your reading assignments before your first day of class. In law school, professors tend to start covering course material on the first day of classes.
You will need a rolling bag or sturdy bookbag for your heavy casebooks, laptop, and notebooks. A complete set of pens, pencils, highlighters, index cards, paper clips, binder clips, bookmarks, and sticky notes will come in handy. Get the supplies you need before school starts. Not sure what to buy? Check out our shopping list!
Establish your physical exercise and mental health routines the summer before your 1L year. Through exercise, your energy levels can increase, and your stress and anxiety can be reduced. Law school requires that you learn and understand difficult legal concepts. When your mind is clear, you will be better positioned to grasp and retain the law. Be sure to promote better physical health by incorporating physical exercise, healthy meals and drinks, and sufficient sleep into your daily routine.
Time will be your most valuable asset during law school. So, if possible, save some time by stocking up on your routine purchases, such as toiletries and non-perishable foods.
Routine Bill Payments
The biggest advantage of automatically paying your bills is the time you save by doing so. Also, you will not have to remember every bill and due date. Although things happen sometimes, you can avoid unintentional late payment fees by setting up your automatic bill payments. To the greatest extent possible, save valuable time that you could spend studying or relaxing by setting up automatic payments for your bills.
Prepare to move
If you’re planning to move, and if practicable, you should do so at least 4 weeks before your 1L classes begin. This will help ensure that you will be all settled by the time classes begin!
Here are a few highly recommended books:
Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams written by Richard Michael Fischl and Jeremy Paul. (Commission earned when you click on the link. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.) Exams make up the vast majority of your law school grades. Their book discusses how to excel on law school exams.
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones written by James Clear, a leading expert on habit formation. (Commission earned when you click on the link. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.) This book provides useful strategies for building habits that can help in any area of life. We recommend that you read it to help you establish habits that support your physical and mental health, to help you build a great habit-based study schedule!
The Relaxing Side of Things
If possible, take a vacation! Undoubtedly, once law school begins, you will have less time to talk on the phone, hang out with family and friends, scroll the internet, or just sit around and do nothing. You may already be under pressure and have anxiety about the upcoming semester. As such, taking a vacation can improve your physical health by allowing your body the space and time that it needs to heal. Taking a vacation could also promote better mental health. Upon your return, you may find that your anxiety has been reduced and that you are able to better focus. Of course, your quality of sleep could improve, and so could your general disposition. Get refreshed!
Schedule quality time with your family and friends before law school begins
Spending time with your loved ones can strengthen your relationships. Considering that your available time will be greatly reduced once law school begins, you should schedule quality time with your family and friends this summer.
Studying should be your first priority. So, take time to explain how busy you’ll be during your first semester. This way, you would not have undue pressure when you’re not able to immediately respond to every text and phone call, and your loved ones should not feel slighted. Keep in mind, that your 1L grades can determine big firm job opportunities, internship opportunities, law review opportunities, clerkships, and the chances of you passing the bar exam on your first try, among many other things.
In order to further alleviate the stress of not spending the quality time that you and your loved ones are used to, consider giving your friends and family something to look forward to by scheduling some quality time during your winter break.
Support from your loved ones
Your loved ones may ask how they could support your law school journey. Here are a few meaningful suggestions:
- Ask them to be available to speak with you about your law school experience, whether you’ve had a win or just need to vent.
- Ask your loved ones to consider purchasing a tutoring session or two with JD Advising if you feel you’re getting behind
- Request a spa package gift for that moment when you really need to feel relaxed and pampered.
Take JD Advising’s Law School Prep Course
It is important to realize that your academic success during your 1L year of law school can guide the trajectory of your law school and legal career. Through JD Advising’s free law school prep course, you will learn how to succeed in law school.
This course has had thousands of students enroll since its inception in 2021. It has received great feedback (4.76 stars out of 5!), and was recently mentioned in U.S. News & World Report as being a helpful law school resource!
The prep course includes a review of the law that is covered in your core 1L classes. You will receive an overview of Real Property, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Torts, and Legal Research and Writing. It contains about six hours of substantive review.
The prep course also covers critical skills such as outlining, preparing for class, time management, legal writing, exam taking, and more. For instance, you will learn:
- how the first year of law school is different than undergrad;
- how to efficiently read law school cases;
- how to brief law school cases;
- the Socratic method and how to be as prepared as possible to talk in front of your class;
- how to use IRAC, how to practice IRAC, and where to find practice exams;
- study supplements to save you time; and
- how to make a realistic study schedule.
One of the most crucial law school skills is outlining. In this prep course, you will learn how to outline and how to learn your outlines. Other bonus features include:
- Q&A with a first-generation third-year Harvard Law student;
- Q&A with authors of Law School Done Right: Proven Tips for Success from Recent Grads who Killed it; and
- Q&A with a Legal Writing Professor.
Additional teachings include–but are not limited to–helping you decide whether to join law review, whether to intern at a law firm and/or work as a judicial clerk, and how to prepare for on-campus interviews.
Once law school begins, consider tutoring
At JD Advising, our tutors that have graduated at the top of their class and are ready to help you succeed in law school.
Offerings include online, one-on-one private tutoring sessions, or group tutoring sessions. Tutoring equips you with the skills you need to succeed in law school. JD Advising is proud to say that many former students showed significant increases in their GPAs after receiving one private, one-on-one tutoring session. Click here to sign up and/or learn more about the JD Advising Law School Tutoring Program!