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Advice For 1Ls

Looking for some comfort before you embark on your first year of law school? Well, here’s a cold splash of reality from Angela M. Biesiada, who’ll graduate next spring from the The John Marshall Law School in Chicago:
“I’ve read all the cases, I’ve looked at all of the supplements before class, I went to an early bird class! I will tell you this right now, no matter how much preparation you have done prior to law school, you will still feel like you know nothing. This is an incredibly frustrating point in a law student’s life. You essentially go from feeling smart (because you have to be to enter law school) to feeling like that kid in undergrad who never read for class and was drunk/high during class. The professor will call on you, and you won’t know the answer to his question. Even worse, he won’t just pass over you (unless you have a nice professor—but they will not all be that nice). You will be forced to have a dialogue with the professor about a topic you’re unsure about, and most likely you’ll be wrong.”
Yes, we’ve all heard about the transition that 1Ls make academically. In your first two months, you’ll need to completely re-tool your reading, note-taking, time management, and study habits. But according to Biesiada, you should expect another seismic shift. And it can be summed up this way:
That’s right: Your priorities will change and school will come first, second, and probably third. Every minute is valuable as a first year and you’re bound to have plenty of doubts during that time. You don’t need so-called friends who’ll siphon your time and reinforce any negative thoughts you have.
That means, from Biesiada’s vantage point, that you must weigh the value of “everyone in your life, from family to friends to significant others… BEFORE you walk into your first day of law school.”
For starters, she counsels students to focus their energies on friends who fill certain voids in their lives. “…as a 1L, I needed people to bounce ideas off of. I would get out of class at 5:30 and want to talk over my day. Extensively. Essentially, I needed people to talk to, not only about law school, but about the outside world as well.”
Moreover, Biesiada warns 1Ls to dump those old friends who can’t respect their space or support their ambitions:
“Don’t waste any time on people who do not care about you and who do not understand your journey (especially if you’ve spoken to them about the situation). These people are POISON and will mess up your first semester grades. This applies mostly to relationships, although it can apply to friends as well. If you sit down with your significant other/friend and explain your concerns, and your significant other/friend ignores them, then DUMP THEM! I held on to someone who didn’t care about me for the majority of my first semester of law school. This individual was not a good fit for me because, after I explained my issues, nothing changed. I finally realized it . . . in early November.”
What’s the moral of the story? “Examine your relationships NOW,” Biesiada implores, “before you are beat down by the stress of the first semester of law school.”
Source: Law School Academic Success

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