August 31, 2016

9 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me as a 1L

9 tips to succeed as a 1L, law school tips, 1L tips, law school advice, 1L advice |

Let me just start off by saying that if you ever feel like dropping out of law school, at least stick around to your 2L year because trust me it is so much better. I read a lot of fellow law school bloggers and because most of them are 1L's, I'm getting to remember how far I've come since I was in their shoes. This got me to thinking about what advice I wish I could go back and tell myself, so here's what I got for you today. Oh, and 9 is my favorite number for all you OCD people that are wondering why I didn't go to 10 :)

1. Remember that this is just school 

And NOT a competition! Yes I realize that there's a curve, but it'll mess up your head if you start seeing your classmates as the enemy instead of allies. And yes, there will be other students who might try to screw you over, but my advice is to just laugh at how psycho they're being about school. 

If you start thinking that you have to be better than everyone else, I promise you that very very soon you are going to be miserable! A final note on the curve, the people who fall off the edge will start to be obvious soon as they stop showing up to class, or do but always unprepared. So don't overthink that curve.

Related: What to expect with the curve

2. Set alarms

Hell hath no fury like a woman professor scorned. Not to call anyone out, but I actually know a girl who missed a deadline my 1L year and it ended up being the deciding factor that made her fail that class. Even if you got by in college or grad school by just remembering due dates, you're about to realize (if you haven't already) that law school is all about having lots of different assignments to do everyday. 

Of course you should be writing this stuff down in your planners, but if there's ever something you have to turn in you better set some alarms or you're going to get busy and forget. 

Related: 6 things to do your first week of law school

3. Go over your finals

After your grades have been posted, email your professors and set up a time where you can go over your finals. Most likely they'll explain to you what was good, what was bad, and where you could've got more points if you did one more step. Hopefully they'll even let you look at an A paper from either your section or a previous year so that you can see what you need to be aiming for.

One time I saw an A paper and realized that there's absolutely no way that I could write that much, but seeing how the student tackled the problem helped me know what to do for the next semester. Even if you're not taking that professor again, most of their tests are structured the same so you can really learn a lot from this.

4. Try really hard in Legal Writing

I once went to a networking event with local alumni lawyers and asked a fresh lawyer what were the best classes he took in law school. He didn't even have to think and said Legal Research and Writing. Why? Because when you're a new lawyer, you're not Harvey Specter yet and will spend a whole lot of time drafting memos for the bigger lawyers. 

Bosses know this so they definitely will have an interest in your writing skills. Also, being on a law journal is prestigious in law school, and this is one way to help you prepare to try to get on one.

Related: Tips for writing your legal memo and your appellate brief

5. Do some public speaking

Whether it's mock trial moot court, board of banisters, or something else, do it at least once.  This is another suggestion straight from that lawyer. Even if you never want to be a trial lawyer, it looks really good on your résumé that you're comfortable speaking in front of others and are a well-rounded candidate. 

Obviously don't overwhelm yourself trying to do too much and neglect your grades, but also don't forget about this until it's too late. If you meet any upperclassmen make sure to ask them if your school is known for any of these teams or if they have a recommendation for you.

Related: Moot court tips

6. Don't read every word

Anyone in academic support that read this would probably go NoOoOoO but I'm reading right along with y'all and I'm telling you that it's just not worth it. As you get further in to the semesters, the reading requirements will increase and the difficulty of the material will also likely increase. This means that if you are bothering to read every. single. word. in your book, you're going to end up spending 4 hours just for one class. Then'll you'll quickly burn out and end up hating law school. 

Learn to prioritize your readings. Professor asks questions from the footnotes? yeah, read those. But a two-page introduction to a chapter where the author is just explaining his opinion on the subject? you can probably skim over that. This is also a skill that you'll need in the real world when you have one day to read through pages of documents. 

Related: How to highlight efficiently

7. KISS for your IRAC

A professor recently went over with my class on everything that should be in an IRAC and I had to hold myself from rolling my eyes. Just like what I was saying, learn to prioritize. Is the citation of your case from important? Almost certainly not, so it doesn't need to to go in this. 

In fact, most of the facts don't even need to go in there. For example, in Garratt v. Dailey, all you really need to know is that a little boy pulled out a chair from underneath an old lady and so she fell and broke her hip. That is one sentence! When you read that short info in your brief, you'll still know enough about the case. 

The issue should only be one short sentence, too. Your main focus should be on the rule and analysis, because that's what's going to be on your final.

Related: How to read a casebook for an IRAC

8. Start doing some Pro Bono

This is one thing that I regret not being involved with more last year. Some schools require it to graduate, but even if yours doesn't you still should try to do some hours every semester. Pro bono is not community service (like volunteering at a food bank). It is you giving free legal help to the community. Because you're not licensed yet, you'll be set up to work with a lawyer or legal service in order to help the clients. This means that you're getting real lawyer experience and volunteering. 

Obviously this will look fantastic on your résumé. Although the volunteering you do might be as small scale as interviewing clients, it's still a skill that you'll probably end up using as an attorney. And in a job interview when they ask about your experience, you can easily connect what you did pro bono with what you can do for that employer. Oh, and the ABA recognizes anyone who does more than 50 hours a year, so that'd look great for you too.

Related: How to squeeze pro bono time into a busy reading schedule and 8 places to look for pro bono opportunities

9. Don't compare yourself to others

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west just as surely as a 1L will fall flat on their face. It's a humbling experience, and you need to roll with it instead of thinking that you're the only one. It might not even be you messing up when you're called on or bombing a test, it could just be that you're sitting in class with a deer-in-the-headlights face thinking wtf omg WTF I don't understand?! 

Just know that it'll happen to you but also it'll happen to everyone else. Law school will suck the confidence right out of you, and when it does you need to be able to look in the mirror and tell yourself that it's not that you're incompetent or don't belong here, it's that this is law school and at times it'll get harder. Just because someone seems like they know more than you doesn't mean that they actually do or are any better than you. Just make it past your 1L year because your 2L year is not near as nerve-racking! 

August 28, 2016

How to Make a Study Plan for Law School

how I come up with a plan on what I need to read for law school. law school studying. law school study plan. law student study plan. law school reading plan. law school scheduling. law school advice. law student tips. law school blog. law student blog. law school blogger. law student blog |

Organize your syllabus

The best way to tackle the amount of work you'll need to do this semester is to first get organized. I recently came across this post on organizing your syllabus and I'm a big fan! I like being able to see everything that I need to do all in one place, and it makes it super easy to just copy down that week's to-do's in my planner. (ps - on the syllabi, the date listed will be the due date)

Once you've seen what you need to do, make goals for how to handle the bigger tasks. My own personal plan is to read daily before class, alternate weekends to either update or review my outline, and create summary review pages every month. The point of making goals isn't to just say "This is what I want to do this semester;" it's to give you something to hold you accountable and remind you to not procrastinate.

Related: Goals for a new semester of law school 

Be realistic with yourself

Again this is before you even start studying, but you need to take 5 minutes and think about your study habits in the past. Chances are, you used to study just okay and now you need to up your game and figure out how to be on top of the ball. Things to consider that might have been a weakness that you need to address: paying attention while reading instead of passively highlighting everything, retaining what you read after a few days, motivation to actually study, procrastinating. 

Think back to how you study for finals and admit what was your biggest obstacle. If you start reading and think ok I need to make sure that I only highlight what's important, and as you're  reading asking yourself is this important enough to highlight? then you are confronting the issue of passive reading, for example.

Experiment with different study styles

You also can consider switching up how you study. Some people prefer to get all of the studying done at once to clear up their evenings, but I personally need a mental break in the afternoons after class before I start reading in the evenings (but I am aware that if a reading takes longer than anticipated, there's a higher possibility that I'll get tired and not read as well). The other day I tried studying with my friend, and she has to listen to basically stoner music to keep her relaxed as she read. But I need absolute silence when I read or I'll get distracted, so I ended up spending 2 hours to read 10 pages. 

Related: My law school study schedule

This also brings up the point that I have to study alone. Being in a public place like a coffee shop or library will just distract me by even the slightest noise. But for other people, the temptation of watching tv or cuddling up in bed and sleeping is too high so they have to go somewhere where's there's not those temptations. I'd suggest during these first few weeks to experiment and see what helps or hurts your studying.

Motivate yourself

I'm saying this because if you sit around and wait to study for when you're super motivated, you're not going to get much done (hello, procrastination). For me, I have to plan out productive days. Since I have a 3-day weekend, I use my Fridays as my get-shit-done days. I wash dishes, do laundry, and pick up around my place while my friends are in class. Then on Friday evenings we go out and have fun. This leaves my Saturdays open for laziness. I'm not just talking about being hungover, but part of me does need a "recharge day" where I can just binge watch Netflix. By the time Sunday rolls around, I have no excuse to not study because after a day of doing nothing I'll be in the mood to be productive, but my apartment is already clean so all that leaves left is to study. Did I put too much thought into this? Probably, but it's what works for me so that I have no choice but to get everything done that I want/need to.

Related: How to balance your time in law school 

Get organized

Whenever it is that you sit down to study, whether it be an all out catch-up day or the day before class, make a list of everything that you need to get done. I personally like to do this in my planner and make little boxes to check off as I go. This helps make sure that after reading 20 pages for one class and 12 for another, you don't forget the 2 page handout a professor gave you as you were leaving class.

I personally don't suggest getting ahead on the readings, because it defeats the purpose. It should be that you kinda self-teach yourself an intro on a topic, and then go to class to have it better explained and burned into your memory. But if you're reading Friday's topic on subject matter jurisdiction and then going to Monday's class on personal jurisdiction, you'll have SMJ fresh on your mind and easily get it confused with PJ. 

I also don't recommend that you split up your readings too much. What I mean by that is if you have 30 pages to read in contracts and 20 pages to read in property for Monday, that you don't read 15 and 10 pages of each class on Saturday and again Sunday. It would be better to read all for one class on Saturday and all for another on Sunday because you usually need to read one assigned chunk at a time to understand it. 


One of the best ways that I've found to actually make myself study is to use the timer method. I'll turn my phone on Do Not Disturb and then set a timer for 25 minutes. I don't allow myself to do anything but study until that alarm goes off (including reading a text). During finals time, I'll get more strict and even pause the timer when I get up to go to the bathroom or something, just to guarantee that I'm studying for the full required time. 

After my alarm goes off, I'll set a timer for 5 minutes and then I have a break. Sometimes I'll get on social media, but usually I'll let myself watch a little bit of a show during my break. No matter what, when that timer goes off I make myself go right back to studying. It's easier to finish a break knowing that I'll be back in 25 minutes to pick up where I left off. And then every few hours my break will be 30 minutes. Usually during these big breaks I try to be productive and shower or cook for myself. I've found that being rigid with myself during the study parts is the best way for me to get through my to-do list for the day. 

let's be friends!


August 26, 2016

Goals for a New Semester of Law School

my goals for the new semester are: read every case, add highlights from the text to notes weekly, update outlines bi-weekly, review outlines bi-weekly, summarize each chapter after reading it, update flashcards monthly, keep an update case list, and to speak up in at least one class a week |

Hellooooo! I hope everyone's semester has started off as well as mine has! Not going to lie, the first day of class as a transfer student was slightly awkward when literally everyone but me was buddied up and sitting in a group with their friends from last year and I was just chilling by myself. But luckily, a girl who was an officer with me in Phi Alpha Delta during undergrad is in one of my classes so I instantly had a go-to person! This is why you should always try to join an organization people. 

A photo posted by Nikki ( on

But anyways now that I'm getting into the flow of school, I thought this would be a great time to set some goals for the semester. Last year I only had two goals: 1) don't drop out and 2) get good enough grades to transfer. While I accomplished both of these goals, they were a little too broad and I think I should've been a little more specific and set smaller goals that would help me achieve my overall goals. So that's what I'm going to do this semester! I'm sharing them with y'all to give you some inspiration to make your own goals and to have some accountability by making mine public. So here goes... 

fall '16 goals |

Read every case

I'll admit, last year I'd start off strong with this but then get sloppy as the weeks passed. I used Quimbee as a crutch instead of an aid and I know I shouldn't have been doing that. Reading someone else's briefs might get you by in general because they tell you the basics about a case, but sometimes you actually need to read them for yourself so that you can pick up on how it connects to the cases you read right before and after them.

My goal for this semester is to at least skim the cases at the bare minimum. I want to have a deeper understanding of my classes so that I will do more than just pass, I will be ahead of the curve. I know if I don't let myself cut corners now, it'll be easier when it comes time to study for the final.

Add highlights from the text to notes weekly

When I read through a casebook, I'll highlight in yellow concepts that I thought seemed important. My favorite part is when the professor tells us to highlight something in the book because we'll need to know it for the test, and I've already picked that out myself. This is why it's important to scarcely highlight only the major parts instead of highlighting everything. And what I don't have already highlighted that my professor mentions, I'll highlight it in pink so that later I know that he wants me to know it. 

Last year I waited until finals time to add all these notes to my texts, and by then I didn't really have time to incorporate much of that into what I was studying. So this semester I want to stay on top of this and add it to my notes every week. This will help me not forget these tidbits until right at the very end, and also help me not have a ton of prep work when it comes finals time.

Summarize each chapter after finishing it

One of my favorite professors last semester always said that, "The rate of learning has to exceed the rate of forgetting." This semester, I'm hoping to put my 20-color pen set to use and make a pretty one-page summary of what each chapter was about, studyblr style. 

My thoughts are that if I do this for each chapter, it will help me review what I just learned. Then by the time I need to study for finals, I also have this that I can go over as a quick reminder. I hope that after each time I finish a summary, I'll review my previous ones so that my rate of learning will exceed my rate of forgetting.

Update outlines bi-weekly

I truly believe in the power of outlines helping you memorize the crazy amount of information that you need to know. However, these can again be something that is easy to start strong on but trickles after a while. Last semester one of my friends invited me to go out of town as a last fun weekend before finals time, but I had to decline because I hadn't even started on my outlines and was starting to freak out.

This year my aim is to stay on top of my game. Not only that, but again I hope to use my colorful pens to make them. I know that statistically, you're more likely to remember something if you write it down, so hopefully this method of creating my outline will help compensate for me typing my notes. When it comes time for finals, I'll still type up what I've written over the course of the semester just so that I can clean it up a bit.

(here's a post on how to get started on outlines)

Review outlines bi-weekly

On my off weeks for updating my outlines, I want to review what I have so far to again exceed my rate of forgetting. I decided to work on my outlines in alternating weeks because really if you go to a class for only 2 days a week then you probably won't cover that much to add to your outline each week. By breaking it up I can focus on reviewing my outline without having to waste time updating it first. 

(btw, don't worry about getting started on your outlines until after like month because you just won't have enough to put in them yet anyways)

Update flashcards monthly

As I add rules to my outlines, I also want to be adding them to the flashcards I make on Quizlet. Again this is coming from experience after wasting two days of study time last semester just getting everything together to study. This also goes towards trying to study throughout the semester by repetition instead of trying to cram two weeks before finals. I don't really get that much information that I need to add to flashcards, so I feel like a once-a-month update/review will be a decent pace of studying throughout the year. 

Another reason why all of this repetition and early studying is important to me, is that last year when it was towards the end of the semester my professor asked me, "What other legal theory that we've learned about this year could the defendant argue?" I couldn't think of an answer off the top of my head because I'd already forgotten the obvious theory, and it was embarrassing when it seemed like everyone else raised their hand because they hadn't already forgot what we learned two months ago.

Keep an updated case list

Even if your professor tells you that he won't require you to cite to cases on a test, having a list with the main facts and rule of each case is still a good idea. Probably the biggest pro of this is that sometimes professors will give you hypotheticals on your tests that are very similar to a case that you've read. One thing that really sucks is when you recognize the fact pattern, but can't remember what the outcome was. Another thing that is that if you could mention that a hypo was similar to X case in your essay, that's a great way to snag a few points and inch up the curve

Because I don't necessarily need to have the cases memorized quite like I do for my outlines, I'm not so worried about doing this a ton throughout the semester. My goal is just to have it done so, again, I'm not real busy trying to prepare to study once it's finals time.

Speak up in at least one class a week

This one is hard for me because as a naturally shy person, my instinct is to sit there in class and let other students be the eager beavers and raise their hands. My main goal for this will just to be actively making myself participate in class and reminding myself not to sit idly by. It's easy for a class (or several) to fly by before you realize that you haven't talked in there once. 

I want to actively participate in class so that if I ever need a recommendation letter or something, my professors can say that I really tried for them. Another reason I want to work on this is that I want to answer the questions that I do know so that when it comes time for a question that I don't know, and the professor thinks I want to call on someone who hasn't spoken up in a while, I'll be blissfully off the radar. 

Final Thoughts

So, there you have my personal goals to make sure that I don't just survive this year, I thrive. If you have any other goals that you think I should consider adding, please let me know! I encourage you all to sit down and think about what you personally need to be doing to make sure that you're killing the law school game this semester!


August 24, 2016

Tips from Law School Orientation

8 steps of a brief and how to use the Cornell note taking method in law school |

Well guys I have now completed two law school orientations. I didn't realize how nervous I had been the first time around until this time when everyone around me was a nervous wreck and I was just like, chill guys. This time when I was given free swag from Lexis I wasn't confused because I knew all about them. And when a professor used a term and then followed it by saying "you'll learn more about this later," I already knew what they were referencing. 

To be honest, it was a little awkward when I'd meet a 1L and they'd ask what section I'm in so I'd have to explain that I'm actually a 2L transfer. But then they'd always ask me about my 1L year or for advice, and obviously I love giving advice about law school so I'd just blab their ears off. What's strange to think about is that as a blogger I don't know if I should be like yeah you should check out my blog! or if that's weird.

My favorite part was went I saw on the schedule that one of the events was titled A Day In The Life Of A Law Student and I could laugh because been there, done that, wrote a blog post about it. There was also a segment titled Thinking Like A Lawyer which just so happened to be my theme for my personal statement when I transferred. Seriously I couldn't have been more prepared for this week haha. 

But that doesn't mean I didn't pay attention! Oh no, my friends. I decided to put my new colorful pen set that just came in to test and make colorful notes you y'all. I know some of this might be repeat or different from what you've just heard, but I figured the more informed you are, the better! Sorry that I don't have tumblr-esque writing lol.

I liked how this orientation really took the time to explain how to write a case brief. They went more in depth than your typical IRAC, but the professor went over it slowly with an example case. (PS if you're struggling to fill these out, here's a post with some help)

orientation: take 2 |

Another great thing that I took from round 2 was a suggestion on how to take notes. You've probably heard of the Cornell Method of note taking, but this professor customized that style for law school. One thing I want to work on this semester is hand writing the summaries of my chapters to hopefully help myself study more, so I'm planning on using this when I do. 

orientation: take 2 |

What you do is on the front split your page into about 1/3 on one side and 2/3 on the other. For 1/3 you'll have the main parts of your brief, and then right beside it on the larger half you can take notes about that brief. That way you're not switching back and forth between the two. On the back you make a summary of that case so that you'll have all this information already together and ready for your outline.

orientation: take 2 |

August 21, 2016

Tips for Starting Your 1L Year, From a 1L and 2L

1L tips. 1L advice. Law school tips. Law school advice. Typical law school schedule. Law school 1L schedule. Law school syllabus. Buying law school books. 1L books. Law school homework. Law school reading. 1L reading. Law school notes |

Told y'all I have lots of amazing guest posts planned coming up! Today I'm super excited to collaborate with a fellow law school blogger on how we're preparing for a new year of law school. 
PS -- Find more from Heather and other law school bloggers in our group Pinterest board!

A little about today's writer Heather from Justifiably Blonde...

School: Syracuse University College of Law
Undergrad: Fredonia
Major: English
Minor: Political Science

As a 1L, everything is fresh! It’s a clean slate when it comes to academics but that doesn’t mean that you can just glide through 1L year. It’s actually the complete opposite. It’s time to buckle down and give it your all, all the time. One thing to keep in mind is that law school – studying, class prep, note taking, outlining, reading, briefing, etc. – is entirely subjective. You have to do what works for you & keep in mind that what may be successful for your peer – say studying with a flash cards – may not be what successful for you – you do better with outlines. In this post, the authors of Brazen and Brunette (BB) & Justifiably Blonde (JB) have teamed up to give our readers advice, from a 1L & 2L perspective, on how to prepare for the years to come.

What does a typical schedule look like?

JB: Here is my class schedule for the fall semester:

tips for starting your 1L year, from a 1L and a 2L |

I’m someone that needs a set schedule for everything, so once my schedule was released, I started to plan out how I wanted the week to look. For example, MWF are great days for me to get all my work done since my class load is light. But one thing that really stuck with me from orientation was making sure that I take time for myself- ex: A stress reliever for me is the gym, MWF will be good days to not only get work done, but also take time to do that. Another thing that my mentor suggested was taking a day completely off from law school. I like this idea and I want to fit it into my schedule to help me wind down at the end of the week. 

Syllabi – More than just a piece of paper with the class policy. 

JB: First and foremost - PRINT THEM OUT. The first thing I did when my syllabi were released was print them out and then actually read them. It seems like a no brainer, but at first I was just skimming through my Torts syllabus but I realized my professor included useful information that I never found in my undergrad syllabi. For example, he talked about how if I am ever unprepared for class email him before hand to let him know. He won’t hold it against me and won’t call on me for the day. If I fail to let him know, and I come unprepared, that’s when it can be considered unprepared and a loss of participation points. Little things like that are extremely useful and unless you read through the syllabus you’d never know. 

BB: The first thing I do once I get the email saying that my professors have been uploading documents is go straight for the syllabus and then get OCD with it. I’ll pick a color for each class and try to make them match (like purple for property) and use this to color code everything. Not all professors make their syllabi the same way so I like to copy the dates over onto a plain Word document and add the color-coded class name at the top so that they all look the same. I’ll use this same color-coding for when I’m writing down my reading assignments in my planner.

You have the syllabus, now how far ahead should you plan?

BB: As a 2L I strongly suggest that you don’t plan out too much reading in advance. If a professor gets just 2-3 pages behind every day for several weeks, then your planner could be up to 20 pages off by the end of the month. I usually spend a little time every Sunday updating my planner with that week’s readings. 

JB: I’ve been planning a little differently, I write things down in two places – my desk calendar and my planner. Once I got the syllabi for each class I made sure to write down whatever important dates were available; mid-terms, assignment due dates, final exam, in both places. I haven’t really color coded my classes when it comes to my planner rather I’ve done it with other things like designating blue to torts so my notebook, folder and the tabs I use for readings are blue and so on for other classes. 

I made sure not to get too far ahead with readings because like Nikki said, not everything goes as planned. So I think I’ll be going about a week at a time with what reading is due that way I don’t get too far ahead and forget what’s going on. 

Where did you get your books and how much did they cost?

BB: I actually just recently purchased my books this past week because I somehow forgot that those were a thing with all of the excitement of transferring. One down side to transferring is that you never know how many hours of a class a school requires, and unfortunately that means I’ll be taking another LRW class and a Negotiation class to catch up. 

I’m being optimistic and assuming that these will be my lighter reading classes so I saved money and rented them used. In fact the only book that I felt like I actually had to buy was my Wills and Trusts book, since it was the only casebook required. In case you’re wondering, here’s the price breakdown of all the books I’ve had to get so far: 

Negotiations: $59 
LRW: $110 (saved $35 because I still have the Blue Book I bought last year) 
Commercial Law: $46 
Wills and Trusts: $254 

JB: So unlike Nikki, I didn’t have the chance to purchase my books beforehand. My class schedule wasn’t finalized until the first day of Orientation so I had no idea what books I needed. I opted to do the pre-pack through my school for the first semester because I was nervous that I wouldn’t have my books in time for classes on Monday. It was one less thing I had to worry about but the downside to this- it’s expensive. I made sure to get used books but I am regretting that decision for my torts book because someone went ham with a highlighter and now I’m having to go over it - It’s a bit distracting. Here's the breakdown:

Civil Procedure                     Torts                                     LCR                               Contracts
Casebook: $174.75   Casebook: $180.00            Casebook: $230.00          4 books: $138.44
Supplemental: $49.00 Supplemental: $ 21.00       Supplemental: $47.00 
Total: a whopping $840.19 – aka I’m broke.

Wait… There’s homework for the first day of class?

BB: If you think the first day will just be a professor going over the syllabus and that’s it, you’re in for a fun surprise lol. Go ahead and assume that your professors have posted reading assignments for the first week already and get started on that. If you can’t find these, it might be safer just to double check with your professor before showing up without reading. 

JB: I couldn't agree more. DO YOUR READINGS. But that alone isn't enough. You need to engage with the text - Highlight, make notes in the margins, write out briefs, take notes on what your reading, ask questions as you go. Be prepared to read things more than once, I haven’t even started classes yet and I already have noticed that I need to read things two or three times to even attempt to understand what in the world is going on in cases. 

How will you take notes?

JB: This completely subjective but keep in mind that if you take notes on laptop – like I do – not all of your professors will allow the use of laptops. MAKE SURE YOU READ THE SYLLABUS TO FIND OUT & PLAN FOR THIS. So for me, using a laptop to take notes is easier because I can type faster than I write so I find that I get more out of my class notes. The downside – your laptop can be such a distraction. But if my classes are anything like my Orange Edge class, there isn’t enough time to do internet searching while actively paying attention and taking notes.

Is there anything else you think is important?

BB: Budget - With every new semester I like to create a new budget. I look at what I stayed on budget last year and what I went over most often, and use that to create a new budget and spending goals. Last Fall I somehow forgot that I would need to make my 9-month school budget stretch a full year through the summer. This meant that during Spring I had to cut spending a lot to cover those costs, so just keep that in mind this semester. The very last thing you want is to have to take out another loan midway through a semester because you blew through all your money too fast.

Update Resume - Law school doesn’t kid around, and pretty soon you’re going to be preparing to apply for summer internships. While you’re too young to participate in the fall on campus interviews (2Ls and 3Ls only), you still need to be getting your résumé updated. If you had a job over this summer you can add that, and if not you can at least add that you’ve graduated and are now going to law school. The American Bar Association actually doesn’t let full time 1L’s work their first semester, but if you’re feeling confident next spring you might could look around for an easy part-time job on campus so you might as well do that now while you’re getting everything together.

August 19, 2016

6 Things To Do Your First Week of Law School

How to start law school on the right foot and how to be a successful 1L in law school! Your first week of law school you need to do your readings and your briefs, speak up in class, put your planner to use, fix your school email, meet with your study group, and go workout |

Ahh this is it! It's so exciting for me to see a lot of y'all starting your 1L year after spending almost a year trying my best to help y'all know what to expect and answer any questions. I know some of y'all won't start for another week (hate you) and others of y'all have already started your 1L year, but my first week starts on Monday so I'm posting about it now. 

The first week of law school is exciting because you're officially a legit 1L after that first class, but I know it can be really stressful trying to pretend like you're not the most clueless person in your section. I'm not as nervous as y'all because this is my 3rd semester of this gig, but I am still nervous because once again it's a new school where I know like no one, new professors that I don't yet know if they're hard or not, and a new school system so I don't know where to find things or what things are. So I'm still in the boat with you and will be taking my own advice for this week.

Do Your Readings and Your Briefs

I've mentioned how I've slowly shifted from writing out briefs to relying on book briefing and Quimbee, but as a fresh faced 1L I wouldn't recommend that to y'all. Until you know what your professor does and doesn't want, make sure that you're carefully reading the book and making briefs for every assigned case. 

6 things to do your first week of law school |
Stole this from my friend SGF :)
The briefing doesn't have to be printed out or anything fancy like that (unless your professor asks) but do make sure you're bringing them to class. Those first few weeks are terrorizing as you wait your turn to be called on, so for your first time it'll really help if you have the answers literally written out in front of you.

Related: How to read a casebook to make a brief 

Speak Up in Class

Ok now there's a difference between adding substance to a lecture and talking just to talk. There was a girl in my section last year who raised her hand all the damn time and I'm pretty sure it was just because she'd been told that's what you need to do to make a good impression. But you're not going to be making a good impression if you're annoying your professor.

I suggest sitting towards the middle of the row a few rows back so that you're easiest to see for your professor. Yes this is a scary place because you can't avoid the professor if you don't know an answer, but they usually call on people with their hands raised so don't let this intimidate you. If on your first day you're thinking plz send help, then it's ok to wait until the second class when you feel more comfortable to speak up. Just make sure you at least try because law school is the kind of place where you really don't want to squeak by unnoticed.

Put Your Planner to Use

The first week of school is a busy time because that's when you start hearing about student organization meetings and pro bono opportunities and internship information. Keep your planner updated because if there's a meeting that you have to go to, you'll need to adjust your reading schedule to make sure that one day isn't super overwhelming. 

On that note, deadlines in law school are no joke so I strongly advise you to put any important due dates (thanks, LRW) in your phone calendar with a first alarm to remind you of it at least 1 day in advance and a second alarm to remind you at least a few hours before the deadline. I'm saying this from experience as the girl who meant to turn in a paper but forgot to do so until midnight when the deadline was 5PM. When there's such a strict curve there's a good chance that a mishap like that will be what takes you from a B to a B- which could also move you down in your class rank. Just make the alarms and it'll be fine. 

Related: The best planners for law school 

Fix Your School Email

First things first, you need to add your email to your phone, computer, iPad, whatever. It still baffles me that as full fledged adults there will still be someone who didn't read the email a professor sent out at like 6 that morning and will blow up the class Facebook page asking where everyone is. Every morning to wake myself, I check my school email, the Skimm, and the weather while still in bed. Then I'm ready for the day and if a class has been canceled I can adjust my alarm and go back to sleep. I'm sure most of y'all do that anyways, but because you're probably at a new school just check to make sure that your phone or whatever is properly receiving and sending emails before the year really gets started. 

Also with your email it wouldn't be a terrible idea to go ahead and add a signature to your school email. When you're in law school you gotta remember that this is a professional school, so you gotta step up your professionalism now. I'd suggest a signature that says something like


Full Name
Yada Yada School of Law, Candidate for Doctor of Jurisprudence  

just so that when you email a professor or potential employer, they'll know exactly who you are and how far along you are in school. 

Meet With Your Study Group

If you've decided to be in a study group, nows the time to get that up and running. If you didn't set that up during orientation, that's fine but you should get it together before everyone  commits to somewhere else. 

At first you really won't need to be meeting too often, because there's nothing really to go over and study. But if y'all feel like it you can go ahead and get together to talk about when you're going to meet or if you need to ask any questions about anything that you're confused about in class. 

Related: How to find study groups in law school

Go Workout

Law school is the fastest schooling I've ever experienced. I know this first week is super overwhelming because you're trying to read everything at first, but trust me when I say take a damn break and go for a jog or something to get your mind off school. I'm telling you right now that if you think Oh I'm just so busy this week I'll wait until next week, then you my friend are probably going to look up one day and realize that it's October and your life has slipped into a law school coma. Law school can be an adjustment so just try to find a way to not freak out 24/7. 

Related: How to Stay Fit in Law School

6 things to do your first week of law school |
Update: She actually did really well in Torts (read how she did it here)

let's be friends!