Surviving the Start: Advice For 1L Students
You’ve well into your first year of law school.
No doubt, you’re stretched. You’re stressing over how much work you need to get done. Still, you’re determined – and eager too. You just need someone to help point the way.
Kerriann Stout, a contributor at Above The Law, recently offered up a few pieces of advice specifically for 1Ls.
“There are few times in my life when I have been more overwhelmed than my first year of law school,” Stout writes. “It is definitely one of those ‘if I could go back and make changes I would’ times for me.”
Learn To Prioritize
Stout mentions how many 1Ls may be eager to get as many things as done at once.
“It seems like the second you walk through the doors for your first day of law school you get hit with a million different things you need do, be, or learn,” Stout writes. “You have to learn a new way to prepare for class (case briefs) and to prepare for final exams (outlines). You have to learn an entire new way of writing (IRACing). You also have to adjust to the concept of the Socratic method and being cold called during class. And these are just a few of the academic things you have to worry about.”
However, she advises against too much worry.
“If you’re going to make it through law school in one piece, you have to pace yourself and learn to prioritize,” she writes. “First and foremost, make sure that you build a solid academic foundation. After you do that, you can start to explore joining clubs and experiential learning like internships and externships.”
Part of prioritizing, according to the bar exam review company BARBRI Group, is creating a healthy routine and sticking to it.
“By establishing a routine early on, you gain control of your stress level and get a leg up on your classmates,” Emily Mermell, a contributor for BARBRI, writes. “Start thinking of your law school routine before your first day of class. When creating this routine, make sure to make time for fun and social events. Overloading yourself with too much work will eventually decrease your level of productivity.”
Make The Most Outside Of Class
While prioritizing is key, that doesn’t mean you have to stick strictly to the books.
Stout says students should be okay with letting loose every now and then—especially considering how long law school takes.
“Law school is an important, serious, and expensive endeavor, but it spans several years of your life and it is definitely okay to have some fun in that process,” she writes. “Make sure that you aren’t filling your calendar to the brim every week with work or résumé-building activities and that you carve out some time (however minimal) to enjoy your life a bit.”
It’s Okay To Feel Lost
Part of going to law school is learning more about yourself.
And that’s what Stout says students should remember. In law school, pretty much everyone is as lost and confused as you are, she says.
“During my 1L year, particularly during the first semester, I often felt like I was totally clueless and the least intelligent person in the room. I engaged in a lot of negative self talk by saying things like ‘you’re not good enough,’ ‘you’re not smart enough,’ and ‘you don’t belong here,’” she recalls. “It wasn’t until I started working and my new colleagues and I were reminiscing about law school that I realized they all felt exactly as I did during their 1L year.”
Rather than beating yourself up over feeling lost, Stout says students should know that they aren’t alone in the process.
“When you feel lost or overwhelmed, remember that it is part of the process, that everyone goes through it, and that there are tons of resources (such as the academic support program at your law school) to help you get through it.”