Advice I Wish I Would Have Known Before 1L

Starting law school can be a really scary experience, especially from how it is portrayed on TV and in the media. Just like starting anything new, it is the unknown that can bother you the most. If you are an incoming 1L - do not be afraid. Law school is tough, but it is certainly not impossible to be successful.

I asked students in my class what some advice they wish they had known going into 1L and this is what we wish we had known:

Introduce yourself to as many people as possible & make friends with those in your classes.
One of the pre-conceived notions that I had about law school is that everyone was competing against each other. At least at my law school, this was not the case at all. My classmates ended up being some of my greatest assets. They will help you with notes if you miss class, help you understand topics better, and be a support system when you are ready to hit a breaking point.

Stay on top of your reading and assignments early on.

At the beginning of the semester, your reading load will likely be less and the material will be a little bit easier. Something that helped me was to read a little bit ahead of my first assignments, so that when the work started to pile up, I was already ahead of the game. On top of that, it will be helpful to get a good organizational system for your notes that will last you the rest of the semester.

Attend information meetings for clubs, teams, and extracurriculars
This is something that I really wish I would have done more often. I always felt too busy to attend a lot of the informational sessions my 1L year, but I ended up missing out on a lot of interesting clubs and events because of it. Even if there is information online about signing up for extracurriculars, attending info sessions in person allows you to meet current members and ask any questions that you may have.

When it comes time to apply for jobs, your extracurriculars are what will set you apart from other students and that is essentially why they are so important.

Outline early and outline often.
I cannot stress this one a lot. You will most likely go over outlining during your orientation, but it is essentially just compiling your notes from each class into one document that you will eventually study off of for the final. My advice is to outline for each class after each chapter or topic or even sometimes more often than that. Personally, I would outline after finishing a topic and reviewing the supplemental resources that were available for that class. That way I made sure that I had all of the information that I needed before completing my outline.

I also loved having my outlines together early because when I would attend review sessions, I could just add those notes directly into my outline and save myself a lot of time. Do not take this advice lightly. Do it and I promise you will be so thankful you did.

Attend social events (even the cheesy ones)
Something that I was so glad that I did my first year was attend a lot of social events. We would have happy hours, talent shows, boat rides, baseball games, etc. throughout the year and this is how I met some of my best friends and got closer with my classmates. It is a great way to relieve stress and many of the people who attend the events will be great connections for the future (they also typically have really great deals for these events because they are sponsored by the school).

Meet with your career counselor and academic counselor early on 
Your career counselor and academic counselor are hired by the school for the sole purpose to help you and you should definitely take advantage of meeting with them. I typically would send my career counselor my resume, cover letters, and writing samples and she would edit them and make sure that they were perfect before I sent them out to employers. She also helped me figure out which type of law I wanted to go into.

On top of that, based on the law I was interested in, my academic counselor helped me plan out my perfect schedule based on classes that she knew I would like and also those that would prepare me for the bar. I did this pretty early on in the year and I am so glad I did.

Take breaks in between your classes
It is so important to give your mind a rest, especially when you have a busy day full of class. Being stuck in the library in between classes is sometimes necessary, but don't forget to take much needed breaks. I loved going for walks during the stay, stopping for coffee, or getting myself a little treat to get through the rest of the day. It really helped me re-energize before I had to go to my next class.

Don't forget about your family and friends
Something that I struggled a lot with was how to balance time with my family and friends. I felt I was pretty bad at being able to see each group of people and I will be honest, some of my friends felt neglected throughout the year. As I have gone through law school, I have gotten better at spending more and more time with my friends and family and making sure to make sure they know I am putting in an effort. Just getting dinner during the week or drinks on the weekend is a quick and easy way to catch up with your loved ones.

Just remember that school comes first and that there will be plenty of time to see your friends and family when you have off for breaks.

Try to raise your hand in class often
This was something that I was really bad at. I am not the biggest fan of public speaking and I never really speak up in class unless I have to. Try to raise your hand in class as much as possible. It is not only a great habit to get into, but it is a great way to be challenged and get to know your professor. Many students have also found that it is much easier to stay engaged in the class when they participate. Just remember, it is okay to be wrong and it happens to everyone at some point. Don't let it bother you too much.

Remember to breathe, relax, and take time for yourself. Law school is stressful, but it does not have to result in a mental breakdown. Take time for yourself and remember that mistakes happen and it is not the end of the world. Enjoy the challenges and learn to grow from each one. Your 1L year will likely be your hardest, but it will also be your most exciting - so don't forget to enjoy it.

Have some advice for incoming 1Ls?? Leave us a comment below!