It’s true: the first year of law school is usually the toughest. But fear not, you will get through it. Here are some things to help guide new students in navigating academics, future employment, and hopefully, a social life:
1. Understand that law school is going to be difficult. You are among very intelligent and hardworking people. Almost everyone has been used to being one of the most capable students in their respective high school or college. Putting top performers all in one class makes it more difficult to do well, but it also makes it an enriching learning environment. Don’t worry about not getting the top score in the class for every class. Focus on learning and engaging with the material. Know that you are going to have to work late. And unfortunately, accept that there will be some sacrifices to your social life (at least outside of law school).
2. Do what works for you. In the coming days, you will meet people who may have worked longer, scored higher, or done more than you. Don’t feel discouraged. You have done just as much as everyone else in your class to get to this point. Don’t feel the need to suddenly change your entire method of studying because that’s what works for someone else. If you study better with others, form a study group. If you are distracted easily with others, choose to study on your own. Use your time efficiently, because you won’t have much of it!
3. Be open and positive. The law is a big field with countless practice areas. Keep an open mind. You don’t know whether that intellectual property law class is going to change your career plans. Be ready and willing to adjust to changes. Enroll in courses you find interesting. Talk to professors and attorneys from other fields.
4. Talk to people. Create a support system around yourself. Whether it’s friends, a spouse/significant other, your kids, your dog, or whoever. Make sure that you have people outside of law school who will be there when you need a break. But the people who will understand you the best are your fellow classmates. These are your future colleagues, partners, opposing counsels, judges, and government agents. Find that balance and net of support.
5. Stay in the loop. Check your email regularly. Everything will be sent through e-mail. The prime time is noon, when classes are getting out. Be sure to check for student organization meetings and other events; there may be leftover food in Knight lounge, too! Joining student organizations early or simply attending org general body meetings will help you decide which groups you want a leadership position in as a 2L.
6. Don’t have time to go to that event? Make time. You are attending this school to learn, but there is more to law school than just books. Law school is about networking and making connections. Connecticut is a small bar, and by the end of the year you will recognize a lot of the attorneys and/or law firms in the area. Go to events. Introduce yourself and get your name out. But, be sincere about it and try not to treat it as a business card gathering competition. Most importantly, follow up and maintain any connections that you make. Even if you don’t plan on practicing in Connecticut, you never know who you will meet and what doors they might open for you.
7. Most importantly, enjoy your time here. Three years isn’t very long. You have roughly 1,000 days with your fellow classmates, so make the best of them.
P.S. The Internet is a vast place. Be smart about what you post, no matter your privacy settings. If it’s the slightest bit risky or questionable, then err on the side of caution. Otherwise, you might have some explaining to do during a job interview or on your Bar Exam application.