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Tips for Incoming Law Students

As law schools plan to reopen their campuses to students this fall, first-year law students may be feeling anxious given the current environment of uncertainty.

Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, recently offered a few tips for how incoming law students can get a head start before classes start in fall.

“This uncertainty is troubling because the first year of law school is as important as it is intimidating,” Kuris writes. “One thing that eases this gauntlet is the camaraderie of a close-knit campus and the study groups, activities and chance encounters that germinate lifelong friendships, romances, shared interests and enmities. Fortunately, lawyers are problem-solvers at heart, undaunted by unknowns and unclear precedents.”

SEEK OUT ADVICE

Kuris says one way to prepare for law school is to reach out to current law students or recent alumni for advice.

“If you don’t know any, try to identify current students through campus activities that interest you, or ask your admissions office to put you in touch with someone who shares your interests,” Kuris writes. “They may prove more helpful and encouraging than you imagine if approached with respect, courtesy and focused questions.”

PLAN

Law students balance a number of responsibilities from classes to jobs. To stay ahead, experts recommend that incoming law students reflect on how they best work.

“What time of day do you feel most focused?” Kuris writes. “Where do you like to get work done? What keeps you motivated? What distractions are your kryptonite?”

These are all important questions incoming law students should be asking themselves, Kuris says.

It can be helpful, experts say, to set some goals to accompany your plan.

“Spend a few minutes thinking about what ‘success’ will look like to you at the end of this year or semester,” Kerriann Stout, of Above the Law, writes. “It is much easier to reach a goal if you are intentional about achieving it. Next, create prioritized to-do lists to help you reach those goals.”

FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF

Prior to your classes, experts recommend that incoming students familiarize themselves with first-year law courses.

“Familiarize yourself with the basic concepts of 1L classes like civil procedure, criminal law, torts, property, contracts and legal writing,” Kuris writes. “There are plenty of books, online guides and videos available. Without the pressure of homework and impending exams, you can explore these subjects at your own pace. You might even consider taking an online 1L prep course.”

Sources: US News, Tipping the Scales, Above the Law