What Is The First Day Of Law School Like?
Even though law school is tough, there is a gentle easing in period with law school orientation. So, you will essentially have two “first days of law school;” your first day of orientation and your first day of classes. Orientation will begin with mainly informative and administrative sessions a week before classes. As orientation progresses, you get exposure to legal writing and research. Then, there is your first day of the semester. This is the day you begin regularly scheduled classes. Here, we will discuss both, so you know exactly what your first day(s) of law school will look like.
What Is The First Day Of Law School Like?
You will begin your law school experience at orientation.
This most likely involves information sessions, headshots, administrative tasks, and a slow introduction to legal writing. Legal writing is essential for both law school and your legal career. Many professors make a point of saying that well-written exams catch their attention the most, and legal writing is the ticket to that. Additionally, legal writing is unlike any other writing you have done before. A lot of the methodology used feels unnatural and will require some easing into.
These first few legal writing classes typically involve reading cases and learning how to dissect them into a case brief form. This is incredibly important for your writing, as well as your class reading. Check out these tips on how to brief a case for law school. Law cases can appear very strange at first, and the ability to discern their meaning is essential. Be sure to pay attention during these orientation classes, as they are laying the foundation for your law school learning experience. Whatever you do, do not undervalue this experience! Come each day well prepared to take notes and give the professor your undivided attention.
After orientation, you dive into your classes.
Orientation typically lasts between a few days and a full week. After orientation ends, you will usually have a weekend of longer before classes begin. Use this time to make sure you have your reading complete (usually handed out during orientation) and are thoroughly organized. Once these tasks are complete, relax! Ensure you are getting lots of sleep, eating well, and taking a moment to unwind before your law school journey begins. Your first day of law school is a lot to take in, and you will be thankful for going in well-rested.
For your actual first day of class, prepare to get up early. Most first-year (full-time) law school schedules involve an early morning class. The time will range by the school but expect to start between 9 or 10 AM. Also, unlike undergrad, you will want to get up with plenty of time to eat breakfast, get dressed, and get to class with time to spare before class. You need to come to your law school with a clear mind and waking up 20 minutes before class will not give you that result.
Many students prefer having 15-30 minutes before class to refresh their memories of the reading or any previous classes. Your first day of law school is no different. In fact, you will probably be quite nervous or jittery your first day, so aim to arrive early for some final reading review.
Prepare for the Socratic Method
Reinforcing your knowledge will ease your anxiety and make you more confident about your cold call. Which brings us to the first significant hurdle of law school, the Socratic Method.
The Socratic Method is a staple of law school and something you will undoubtedly come face to face with on your first day of class – either directly or indirectly. The Socratic Method is a system of question and answer based dialogue that stimulates students’ critical thinking. It would be beneficial to know precisely what the Socratic Method is before your first day of law school.
After, take some time to learn techniques for how to survive the Socratic Method. Commonly referred to as “Cold Calls.” They will be a point of anxiety at first, beginning with day one. Your professors will often describe how they choose to utilize cold calling, which gives you a better idea of what to expect for the semester. Just remember that this is everyone’s first day of law school, and you are not alone in your apprehensions. Everyone stumbles on a cold call and builds their skills up from there. If you are cold-called on your very first day, consider this a chance to better yourself sooner than others!
Get to know your classmates.
Take time to get to know your fellow classmates. You are going through the same journey, and it is good to have support when you feel uneasy. Additionally, friends are always necessary for a stressful environment, such as law school. After speaking with your classmates and buzzing about what is to come when the professor walks in, you will pick a seat, set up your mini office, and get ready to focus.
What you experience in your first-ever law class will vary by school and by the professor. Some professors give no initial reading and ease their students into the ways of law school. Others pack on substantial reading at the beginning of the semester to challenge their students. What is guaranteed on the first day of law school, is you will certainly get a clear idea of what classes require, the professor’s approach to teaching, and what pace your course will be going at. These are essential pieces of information to help you organize and prioritize your study schedule, so be sure to note them!
Subsequently, after your first class, you will likely get the most extended lunch break you have ever experienced (usually between 1 hour to two hours). Some students use this time to read ahead or study, others to unwind before their next class, a few might manage errands with the sizable time provided. It may take a week or two to get into a lunch groove, but just be sure to pick one that works for you. Do not be swayed by what your fellow students do or say they do during their breaks. If you need time to relax and take a breath before another class, by all means, do it!
After your lunch break, you get to relive a law class all over again. You will learn the socializing, focusing, adjusting, and pacing just as you did from your first class. Once the day is complete, you will have the evening to yourself. We recommend taking the time to unwind after your long day. Moreover, this does not only apply to the first day of law school. Burn out is a worry at all times throughout your first year of law school, and you should plan around it best you can. The first way to do this is to give yourself a well-deserved break after several hours of law school classes.
If you have outlining or reading scheduled for that evening, be sure you don’t unwind too long and allow yourself sufficient time to complete your tasks. Taking personal time, however, is always important. If you are worried about time management, try and use a daily study schedule to keep you on track! Give yourself time to recharge before hitting the books again. Because, in the morning, you get to do this all over again!
Remember that succeeding in law school requires preparation. We offer a Law School Prep Course, designed by our CEO and Founder who graduated #1 in her law school class. It helps you to develop skills that will allow you to hit the ground running when you start.