Over the last few weeks, I have been mostly focused on the Bar Exam and the craziness that will be upon examinees in T-minus 35 days (ahhh!!!). Today I am going to rewind just a bit and focus on some of our newer friends – those of you who will soon join the ranks of law students, bravely working to become amazing attorneys.
After the Bar, I will be releasing some 1L Survival Packets. These will be complete with subject outlines, study tips and personalized help from me, Katie, any time you may need it! Be sure to check back around the end of July to grab yours.
For now, I just wanted to touch on some of the expectations of your 1L year. For those of you who aren’t law school lingo savvy, a 1L is a first year law student. The term is (mostly) used affectionately by pretty much everyone, from the professors to other students.
If you were anything like me, undergrad was kind of a breeze. You may have had a few classes that tripped you up, but for the most part you were considered to be one of the smarter students and you didn’t have to try for much. I hate to break it to you, but law school will not be like this. If you are reading this and thinking, “whatever, it totally will be,” you really are like me!
I was convinced I was going to tackle law school and ace every test and pretty much just live in perpetual beast mode. I went to every orientation and open house. I practiced briefing cases and thought of questions a professor might ask while reading. Yes, I was a total nerd (just ask my boyfriend), but even will all of the preparation that first semester totally knocked me on my ass. You know that “humble pie” everyone talks about? I had a big ‘ole helping and then some.
After my first year, things came together a little better. I realized three important things that I want to share with you before you begin this journey on the way to attorney greatness.
- You don’t have to study like everyone else.
When I went to all of the orientations, open houses, study groups etc. I was encouraged to take notes on my computer in class and use said notes to make “an outline.” Now, I had never outlined in my entire scholastic career but for some reason I thought it would be a GREAT idea for me to start doing so in the middle of the craziest semester of my life. Spoiler: It wasn’t.
For me, taking notes and outlining, wasn’t the answer. I was much better off making mind-map-like diagrams of each chapter or section of the textbook, and developing an over arching rule. Having a visual was crucial for my learning. I also realized that unlike a lot of my classmates, taking notes in class just wasn’t feasible. I was able to retain so much more information if I was listening attentively and doodling or writing down key words. I would then use these pictures or words to recall the information and use them in my mind maps.
That’s not to say that my way is the best or only way to study either. I had plenty of classmates who used the traditional method and were rockstars. You just need to figure out what your way is.
If you’re not sure about the best way for you to study, shoot me a message or leave a comment and we can talk about it!
- Law school is hard but it’s even harder alone.
It totally sucks starting at a new school where you know no one. Law school seems to be even worse because things move so quickly and the reading never stops. How are you supposed to make friends when all you do is study and eat ice cream (asking for a friend…)?
It is difficult but it can, and must, be done. Check out the area around your school before classes start. Ask people to grab a quick bite at the Mexican restaurant down the street (Shoutout to “Guad” near STCL!!) or organize drinks after a particularly long Civ Pro class (you will have plenty). The thing about law school is everyone is freaked out. I promise if you invite people to do something, especially if it involves commiserating, you won’t be disappointed.
Those people you meet up with during the first few months can even end up being some of your best friends in the world. Don’t miss out on the little rays of sunshine during a kind of dark time.
- Remember your family.
I don’t know if you are close with your biological family but either way don’t forget about the people who represent home. For me, that meant keeping my mom up to date with all of the latest drama. If you have checked out my blog before, you have undoubtedly seen comments from her, even today! Keeping my family close was vital to my physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Even if your biological family isn’t your support system, make sure you have one. Knowing you can call up a friend who is totally removed from law school madness is sometimes just what you need to make it through the day. More than once during my law school career, I used a break between classes to call someone and just complain about the day. It seems silly, but it almost always helped. Make new friends, but don’t forget about the ones you have always had.
So, there ya have it! My three tips to making the most of your 1L year… At least for now. Check back in a few weeks for more tips and practical ways to ace your first semester (unlike me!!). For now, here is a pic of me with my 1L friends, my support group, and some of the people who know me best to this day.