First Year of Law School Survival Tips

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You’re trembling. Sweat is poring down your face. Everyone is speaking a foreign language. No, this is not a nightmare. It’s your first day of LAW SCHOOL. There’s no need to be afraid. You will survive. As of this writing, no one in my class has died. I am now proud to say, “I am a 2L!” Below are some tips for surviving your 1L year that I wish I’d been given. Remember the old adage “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” So take a deep breath and repeat after me: “I am a 1L, and they can’t kill me!” Then read these tips and follow the advice below because it will help make your 1L year much more manageable.
  1. Participate in moot court and mock trial. But if your coach dips and spits (into a clear plastic bottle no less), run - do not walk - to the nearest exit, but don’t leave before you get a new coach that doesn’t dip and spit. This really happened to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a new coach.
  2. Take all advice given by 2 and 3L’s with a grain of salt. It may be good advice, but then again they may just be messing with your head.
  3. Join a study group. I repeat for slow learners. Study group! Not a group for gossiping or drinking or whatever else groups do. Keep the group small, no more than four people. The group should be made up of people who actually study. Don’t be afraid to quit a study group if no studying occurs.
  4. Make time for things you enjoy! If you have a hobby - fly fishing, underwater basket weaving - don’t give it up. You don’t want to turn into some psycho the other law students whisper about. “Psst. See that guy over there. No, the one with drool all down his front. Yeah! He’s the one who spends 15 hours a day in the library and is still on academic probation.” Long hours in the library do not equal higher grades.
  5. Outline your courses. Don’t rely on commercial outlines; your professor may not have the same perspective on the law as Emmanuel and Gilbert. Do look at outlines from 2 and 3L’s who had your professor
  6. People exaggerate how much they study. Don’t listen to them! Either they are lying to make themselves look better or they’re insane and really do study that much. If they are insane, you don’t have to worry about them because they’ll flunk out due to sleep deprivation.
  7. Legal Practice (or whatever your school calls the dreaded first year writing course) is a colossal bore! Find a way to keep your mind entertained while in class because even Legal Practice professors frown on sleeping during class.
  8. Don’t break the bank on commercial study aids! If you decide to buy them, you can probably get used copies from fellow students. If you’re not sure what study aids to buy (don’t go hog wild and buy all of them), check some out from the law library and see what works best for you.
  9. The quietest person in your class will be number one at the end of the first year! The guy who only spoke when called on is currently at the top of my class.
  10. Law school is exactly like junior high. Everyone wants to know your business, and as soon as someone does know it, they will tell the whole school. So if you've done anything weird (sex change, strange piercing, etc.), keep it to yourself unless you're really into 600 other people discussing it ad nauseam.

Please see the following articles for more information about law school, the bar exam and succeeding in your first year of practice:


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