Advice for 1Ls: What I Wish I Knew

Even though I start my 2L year in less than two weeks, I still mentally refer to myself as a 1L. It's so weird to think that I'm already a third of the way through law school--it feels like it was just yesterday that I was counting down the days to the first day of 1L. 

I know I learned a lot during my first year of law school, and not just academically. There are plenty of tips I wish I could tell my past self, but, even though I haven't invented time travel (yet!), at least I can share this advice with you. 

You'll Figure It Out

Orientation week was very informative and super fun, but there is one memory from that week that sticks out: sitting in one of the lectures where a professor was teaching us about how to read and brief a case. There were so many new words and so much information to keep track of, even in the short fake case the law school created for orientation. I was overwhelmed and it was only the second day. I can remember thinking to myself, "How am I ever going to learn all of this? How am I supposed to figure this all out?" 

And yet, I did. 

And that's probably the most important thing for you to know, in my opinion. It seems like a lot when you first get started, but that's because you--and everyone else around you--doesn't know anything yet (which is okay, you're not supposed to yet!). You'll soon be speaking with confidence about what you're doing in law school--there have been plenty of times where I'll be chatting with my mom and forget to switch out of my "law school speak."

I promise, you will figure out how to actually be in law school, just give yourself time. 

Try New Study Methods

I began 1L writing out all my case briefs, which, for me, took a lot of time and wasn't very helpful when I was in class. But, I did it because that's what they showed us during orientation and that's what most of my friends were doing with their notes. 

Originally, I kept going with my written briefs because I assumed that was the best way to do it for everyone. But, that's not what I stuck with for the rest of 1L. 

I moved onto book briefing and writing out a single "one-liner" that summed up the case in a single sentence. This worked so much better for me--I was retaining information and it was easy to succeed when I was cold called because I knew which color highlighter to look for depending on my professor's questions. 

Even if many other people are doing things one way, if that method doesn't work for you, switch it up! There's no one way to get through your readings, so try new things until you find something that works best for you. 

Work Hard in Legal Writing

Even though it usually has the fewest credit hours out of you 1L classes, this is probably one of the most important classes you'll take. I spent pretty much all of my 1L summer internship researching and writing memos and orders, and I know that most of my friends did the same in their internships. Plus, this will be what a lot of your first years as an attorney may be like, so it's definitely important to pay attention and take it seriously. 

Plan Your Week Out

I've always been someone who uses a planner to keep my life together (who knows how big of a mess I would be otherwise), but law school has taught me to fill it out week-by-week. I used to plan way ahead in undergrad, sometimes even all the way through a semester, if I had the information to do so. 

However, law school differs a lot from my undergrad experience in that I can only really plan out one week in advance. Readings can change based on how far you get in class (it's very easy to get derailed and off topic), and some professors don't even give you a semester-long syllabus. I also had a professor who updated us weekly on what to read. 

Keep yourself updated on events going on at the law school, too. Lunch talks and networking opportunities (even over Zoom!) are beneficial and if you can make one, why not go? 

Pay Attention to Your Mental Health

I know I probably harp on and on about mental health in a lot of my blog posts, but it's seriously so important to check in with yourself in law school. There's a ton of pressure on you from everywhere and everyone, so taking the time out of your day to make sure you're doing okay is necessary. 

Law school is demanding, and getting burnt out because you're not keeping tabs on your mental health isn't healthy and may set you back a bit if you're unable to focus on class. 

Don't Be Afraid to Have a Social Life

Like I mentioned above, law school is demanding. But friends can help you get through that. If you're anything like me, you may need to study more than you did before law school, but that doesn't mean your whole life has to be studying. 

For me, getting through 1L, especially when we went online due to COVID-19, was made easier because I have a solid group of friends. Your law school friends completely understand what you are going through because they're experiencing it with you. No matter how much you explain law school to someone who isn't in it, they won't fully understand, and that's a plus to having a great group of friends in law school. 

Don't forget about your non-law school friends, though! It's nice to not constantly be talking about something related to classes or externships, and maintaining the relationships you had before law school is incredibly important. 




  1. Hello Rachel!
    I'm a high school student from Switzerland and I plan to go to law school next year. I discovered your blog recently and I find it incredibly interesting and useful. Thank you so much for such a good advice!


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