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Various Activities during the First Year at Law School

published September 20, 2013

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Undoubtedly, most of your time and attention during the first year will be occupied by your classes. There are many extracurricular activities in law school, however, and you should participate in these activities, even during your intense first year of law school. You also need to save some time for yourself and for your family and friends.

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There will be a student governance body, often known as the Law School Council, at your law school. This Council usually has representatives from each of the three law school classes, including the first-year class. If you are interested in participating in law school governance work, you should become involved with the Council activities. You can get involved either by running for election as a class representative or by serving on one of the committees of the Council. These committees deal with a variety of law school subjects, such as the curriculum, faculty hiring, or the placement pro-gram. All of these subjects are critically important to your law school experience. Participation in these activities will give you a better understanding of the resources available from your law school and a more informed perspective on your law study. In addition, you typically will become better acquainted with faculty members and administrators at your law school, who also may serve on these committees.

In addition to law school governance activities, your law school will have many other student organizations available for your active participation. The following is a list of some of the organizations that you may be able to join at your law school:
  • American Bar Association Law Student Division
  • Asian American Law Student Association
  • Black Law Student Association
  • Catholic Law Student Association
  • Christian Law Student Association
  • Entertainment Law Society
  • Environmental Law Society
  • Federalist Society
  • Gay and Lesbian Law Student Association
  • High School Law Teaching Program
  • International Law Student Association
  • Islamic Law Student Association
  • Jewish Law Student Association
  • Justice Foundation
  • La Raza Legal Alliance
  • Law Student Newspaper
  • Legal Fraternities
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • Native American Law Student Association
  • Sports Law Association
  • Women Law Student Association

In addition to the many student organizations, athletic activities are available at most law schools. These activities may be operated as part of the intramural program of the larger university or col-lege of which the law school may be a part. These intramural sports activities provide an opportunity for coeducational participation in sports programs, which are an additional way of building friendships with your law school classmates.


Your law school will present several lectures and other special events, such as debates, panel discussions, and films. Plan your schedule to attend these events and to take advantage of these opportunities. The speakers will be leading advocates and commentators about current legal and political issues. Attending these events will contribute importantly to your intellectual growth as you are exposed to new ideas and have an opportunity to analyze critically the presentations with your classmates.

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There are many places and activities in the com-munity that will be instructive for you to visit. You should take time to visit the courthouse in your community-both federal and state if they are located there. While at the courthouse, sit in and observe a trial and talk to the court administrator about judicial administration issues in that court. Oftentimes, your law school will make it easy for you to observe a trial or appellate hearing by ar-ranging for an actual court session to be held in your law school.

Other interesting and enjoyable trips in the community include visiting a legislator or the legislative clerk, visiting an attorney practicing in an area of your interest, and observing a foreclosure sale. Be creative. Think about ways to add variety to your schedule by observing the law in action. You will find that the lawyers and judges you seek to visit usually will be very happy to talk with you.


If you will be attending law school fulltime, you should try to avoid employment during your first year. Your hours will be more than consumed by your class preparation and attendance, as well as by other law school activities.

If it is essential for you to be employed, to meet your expenses, however, you should limit your employment hours as much as possible. The American Bar Association accreditation standards require that accredited law schools have a policy limiting outside employment to twenty hours per week. Of course, if you are attending night law school part-time, you may work full-time during the day. Your night law school educational program has been designed with your employment needs in mind.

If you must work, try to find employment that does not conflict with your study schedule. Look for work close to the law school to limit your commuting time. In fact, some excellent work op-portunities are in the law school itself, such as working as an assistant in the law library or as a research assistant for a professor. A research assistant job with a faculty member is an excellent educational experience and will enable you to develop a close relationship with a faculty member who can serve as a reference for you when you seek permanent employment after graduation. Because research assistant positions are highly sought after, however, it may be difficult to obtain such a job in your first year of law school.

If possible, find a law-related job so that you can learn on the job by seeing the law in practice. The best way to begin your search is with a visit to your law school Career Services Office. Law firms and other employers post notices of part-time jobs there, and the Office may be able to assist you in obtaining part-time employment while you are a law student. It also can be of great help to you in obtaining summer employment after your first and second years of law school.

Law firms traditionally hire law students to work as law clerks at the firm during the summer break period. Firms frequently use the services of the Career Services Office to identify the summer clerks they will employ. These law firm summer clerkships are in great demand by law students, because they are an excellent educational experience and because law firms frequently hire their permanent associate attorneys from the firm's summer clerkship program. Usually, the second-year students have first priority on the summer clerkship jobs, but the Career Services Office at most law schools will assist the first-year students during the second semester of the first year.

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