It’s nearly August, and upcoming law students across the country are carefully preparing for their first semester of law school (or the 1L year, as it’s commonly referred as). I graduated 27 years ago from the University of Puget Sound School of Law with a Juris Doctorate degree. Although it’s been a while since I’ve been in a classroom, I still remember a thing or two about law school.
Law school is going to challenge you mentally, physically, and emotionally if you’re not prepared. Here are my top tips to help you enter your 1L year with confidence. Your journey begins now.
During the summer before law school, take the time to connect with current students and recent graduates. Find out if your school has a Facebook group you can join, or reach out to your professors if you have any questions. It’s never too early to begin networking as a new law student.
2) Sharpen reading and writing skills
You’ve been warned: there will be a lot of reading and writing in law school. Reading this summer will help prepare you for the amount of reading you will be doing during the school year. Many law schools will provide a suggestion list with recommended books and resources as an introduction to the legal world. I suggest even reading books you enjoy, especially since you won’t have much time to read leisurely during school. It’s important to learn how to convey your thoughts clearly and concisely on paper. Sharpen up your fundamental writing skills this summer through plenty of practice or studying resources.
3) Develop healthy habits
Before beginning law school, take the time to develop healthy habits that can carry over through the upcoming school year. Yes, law school is a lot of work. The study habits you had as an undergrad may not necessarily serve you as a new law student. Research different study and time management techniques to develop a routine that works best for you.
Skip the late nights and even later mornings this summer – I suggest sticking to a consistent sleep schedule to get your body prepared early school mornings in the fall. Also if you’re not eating healthy, now is the time to start. The rigors of law school can easily lead to high junk food consumption and daily fast food outings. Learning how to whip up quick and healthy meals will help you save both dollars in your pocket and inches off your waistline.
Whether it’s working out at the gym, making art, or playing sports, explore different hobbies and activities that can help you manage the inevitable anxiety and stress that comes with law school. I personally enjoy playing the guitar and practicing Taekwondo as my outlet for stress. Not only does it help clear my mind, I feel good knowing I’m doing something productive and beneficial for myself.
4) Last but not least, enjoy your summer
Don’t forget to have some fun before law school starts! You’ve worked extremely hard to get where you are today, and you deserve time to relax. Don’t get too caught up on preparing for law school that you miss out on your summer vacation. Take a road trip out of town, explore some of Washington’s beautiful hikes, or enjoy a concert or two. Learning to find a healthy balance between work and play is not only critical to academic success, but also to staying sane as a lawyer.