Saturday, May 12, 2012

What I Would Tell a 1L . . . .

I have finished my first year and am now home for a few days, visiting my parents and regrouping before I start summer work. I've decided that all I really want to do for the next few days are relaxing things that I enjoy: reading novels, watching movies, hanging out with my family, journaling, shopping, running, and getting my blog up to speed (because I can never write as much as I want to when I'm busy with school, so then I have to have a "blog blitz" and write a ton when I have a break).

I've been processing my life over the past year and thinking about what things I'd want to share with a student getting ready to begin their first year of law school. I'm hoping to have the chance to befriend and mentor students in the incoming class, so I'm hoping the lessons I've learned about the first year will prove helpful for some of them. Here are some:

  • Balance is so important. I really couldn't stress this enough. Learning the law is the most absorbing academic experience I've ever had--a lot like learning a foreign language and culture by immersion. And beyond that, the law is limitless--there's always more cases you could read or more supplements you could study. You could work 24/7 and there would still be more that you could learn. So it's really important to know when you've done enough and need to stop working and get rejuvenated. More work isn't always better, it's just more, because eventually you get diminishing returns from your efforts if you never take a breather.
  • Keep up with activities you enjoyed before coming to law school.
  • Keep a journal about your experiences. Not only is it therapeutic, but it's also really fun to read later and think about how far you've come.
  • Go to all the lectures, special speakers, and student panels that you can (and not just for the free food!)
  • Find some friends outside of law school. For me, these are people I met through my church. While I love my law school friends, sometimes it is so refreshing to be around people who aren't stressing about the same things you're stressing about and who have a different perspective.
  • Go to the gym regularly--it will de-stress you and keep you healthy.
  • Don't be afraid to make some major, ambitious goals--if you don't aim for things, you probably won't get them.
  • Find a place besides the law library that can become your own comfortable, motivation-inducing study spot, like a coffee shop.
  • Wear professional clothes on days you have really hard exams/ presentations/ etc., because it will put you in the right frame of mind.
  • Get comfortable with some seriously delayed gratification and learn how to make your own rewards along the way. There is only one final and one grade for each class at the end of the semester, so you're not going to be receiving much feedback during the semester and will have to work for several months without necessarily knowing how you're doing in the class. Also, since you won't be able to see your hard work be rewarded with good grades or feedback along the way, you will need to know when to reward your work yourself with some time off, a movie, or whatever else is relaxing and rejuvenating.
  • And perhaps most importantly: have fun and enjoy the ride.
These are just a few things I've learned from older students, friends, and my own experiences this past year that I want to pass on.

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