1L Advice from Some Who’ve Been There
First-year students often feel a mix of excitement, ambition, and anxiety in the early weeks of their law school career. Put simply: Being a first year law student can be overwhelming. To help, we asked some upper-level students for advice on how to successfully navigate the potentially stressful beginning of a legal education. Here’s what they said: Time management
is one of the most important skills for law students. “I wish that I had managed my time better early on,” said 2L John Ferrell, L’ 18. “For the second semester, I scheduled every hour of every day, with certain amounts of time blocked out for each individual class. This made my workload feel more manageable than it did when I simply had a long block of time each day for just studying.”
Having a precise schedule, Mr. Ferrell said, helped cut down on his stress and anxiety.
Many students are tempted to rely on “legacy outlines”
from upper level students, but most professors caution against doing so
, because it is the process of making an outline that instills knowledge and skills. Merely obtaining an outline from someone else won’t cut it.
“I made my own outline,” said 2L Mackenzie Ferguson, L’ 18. “I don't think there is anything more important than this. I did use legacy outlines to help me get a format started, and then to help me if I was completely lost on a topic, but other than that I completely made my own outlines and it was the most helpful thing I could have done.”
Another important tip is outlining early
and keeping up
with your outline. “During my first year of law school I wish I had outlined as the classes progressed,” said 2L Megan Davis, L’ 18. “I waited until towards the end of the semester to begin outlining and it became overwhelming. If I had outlined along the way, all of my time at the end of the semester could have been used to study.”
Lastly, it is important to put everything in perspective
. “Just try your best and remember that grades do not define who you are as a person,” said 2L Morgan Rae, L’ 18. “Its okay to feel lost and like you have no idea what is happening. The first few weeks of law school, I was incredibly confused and felt like I had learned nothing, but then one day the light bulb clicked and I felt like I kind of knew some things.”
Ms. Rae also stressed the importance of asking questions. “If something does not make sense, don't be afraid to ask questions,” she said. “If you have a question, someone else has that same question.”