Law School Insider: Tips for Starting Law School

Welcome to Law School Insider! In this multi-part blog series, you will hear directly from current law students about their favorite courses, law school myths, best pre-law tips, and more!

Tip: Take Care of Yourself

“Schedule your time and make sure to include mandatory time for self-care. Mental health is so incredibly important, do not neglect it! Also, sleep. Staying up an extra two hours to cram will not help. Get your 8 hours. It’s doable!”

-Taylor H. | University of Illinois College of Law

I love being a law student, and you can too! Also, make a list of people, places, and activities that are important to you. Then, every now and then, look back at that list and make sure you’re still in touch with those things. Law school is busy, but don’t let yourself become so busy that you lose the “you” that you were before law school.”
-Haydn L. | University of Michigan Law School

“Ensure that your mental and physical health are as close to 100% as they can be before starting law school.

-Kayla C. | DePaul University College of Law

Enjoy your summer before your 1L year, because law school is a lot of work and you’ll have to be very selective with how you spend your free time if you want to do well.”

-Dan S. | Loyola University Chicago School of Law

“Some days in law school you won’t get everything done that you set out to do, and that’s okay. Take care of yourself, lean on friends and family for support, and keep going. You got this!”

-Skylar R. | Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Specifically block out time each day for personal relaxation where you do nothing law school related. Law school is a completely different beast from undergrad. It will become very easy to drown yourself in work unless you take explicit action to prevent that from happening. The easiest way to do that, in my opinion, is to set aside at least an hour each day to practice a hobby, call friends or family, or go for a walk.”

-Ben T. | University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

Tip: Explore

“There are so many legal career paths unknown to you before law school, so don’t be afraid to follow new or unexpected interests.”

-Sydney S. | Georgetown University Law Center

“Branch out and take classes that further YOUR interests!”
-Jillian W. | New England Law Boston

Do not compare yourself to your peers. Don’t get absorbed in where your peers work or what extracurricular activities they are involved in (such as law review, etc.). Everyone has very different career goals, and it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle where you focus less on your dreams to earn prestige. For example, don’t go into big law just because all of your peers are if you don’t want to do big law. Getting stuck in that cycle will take the joy out of law school, and it shouldn’t be a miserable experience.”

-Tara S. | Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Tip: Make Connections and Ask for Help

Ask questions, and reach out to the 2Ls & 3Ls. They’ll have resources and insight that will be helpful. Also, find your people. People help ease the law school experience. They’ll help you study but also vent and get out your jitters about school.”

-Cierra M. | University of Illinois College of Law

“If your school or student orgs offer to match you with 2L mentors, do it! My mentors have been an incredible resource for me while navigating 1L.”

-Amanda W. | Duke University School of Law

Start networking with lawyers and other legal professionals as soon as possible. You never know when you’re going to find an opportunity or meet someone who can help you out in the future.”

-Justin M. | Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

“Find a study group. Even if it’s just 1-2 other students, it helps to connect on similar struggles and talk through complex legal issues.”

-Vanessa A. | Loyola University Chicago School of Law

“I would advise law students to lean on upperclassmen and each other. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to be transparent with your peers. If you’re having a hard time, someone else is too.”

-Darius C. | Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Ask for help when you need it. I was so surprised that there are so many people around to offer advice and help when I need it. Everyone is in it together.”

-Clara T. | Southern Illinois University School of Law

Tip: Be Prepared

“Outlines are helpful but nothing beats practicing concepts. Practice, practice, practice.”

-Nick S. | University of Illinois College of Law

“Easier said than done, but do not be nervous—law school is not like what you see in the movies. They do cold call, however, the professors are all there to help you. If you do not understand a concept, set up office hours with your professor because they love helping students. Do not be scared to ask questions. Finally, you got into law school and you are more than capable of knocking it out of the park—never forget that.

-Joseph A. | University of Illinois Chicago School of Law

“Stay on top of your assignments but don’t stress the experience too much. Law school is an opportunity, not a burden. Learn everything you can while it lasts.”

-Noah S. | William and Mary Law School

“In terms of schedule and mental effort, law school is closer to a full-time job than it is to undergrad. If you’re coming straight from undergrad, try to change your habits and treat your law school like a workplace: show up early in the morning and put in a full day, and you can go home in the evening and relax (not always, but often). I think the students who feel the most stressed are the ones who try to treat this like undergrad and need the entire first semester to change their habits. The earlier you change your habits, the more comfortable and confident you’ll be!

-Grant L. | UCLA Law

“Be sure to complete assigned readings with advanced time.”

-Matthew M. | UNLV, William S. Boyd School of Law

My #1 tip is to be consistent with readings, assignments, and outlining throughout the semester to avoid having to cram at the end of the semester. Unlike undergrad, law school exams are not something you can prepare for the night or even the week before. I have found it very beneficial to be prepared well before the exam period to be able to answer any questions I have, take practice exams, and really learn the information.”

-Ashley T. | George Washington University Law School

Do your reading, engage in class, take a deep breath, and lean on the new friends you make they will make all the difference in your sanity when finals come around.”

-Margaret B. | DePaul University College of Law

Start working on studying for exams a few weeks before you think you need to. Do the reading but don’t focus on cold calls, prepare for the exams.”

-Khalil R. | University of Chicago Law School

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

-Maciek C. | University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School

Tip: Don’t Give Up!

“The first year is incredibly difficult, and it’s really easy to get discouraged. Law school classes require a very different way of studying and writing than undergraduate courses. Throughout that journey, make sure you hold true to the reason you went to law school in the first place and stay grounded by spending time with your community. You will get through the first year and things do get better.”

-Karen C. | University of California, Davis School of Law

“Law school, compared to undergrad, is a different kind of learning that can seem very challenging at first. Imposter syndrome is very real, but it is best to try and ignore it. As time goes on, you will feel more confident in your abilities and it will get easier. Things that may seem scary and difficult in the beginning will quickly become second nature to you.

-Stella G. | Indiana University Maurer School of Law

“Just know that law school is going to push you beyond what you thought you were capable of. It’s very difficult, and you will often feel like a failure. But, you’ll push through and realize that you can handle anything that comes your way.

-Mallory M. | University of Illinois College of Law

Enjoy your summer and some freedom that comes with it, because that first week of law school is one of the most challenging academic experiences you’ll ever face. There is no ‘syllabus week’. You are expected to come to class ready to discuss material on Day 1.”

-Michael B. | University of Illinois Chicago School of Law

Remember: “You deserve to be here.”

-Austin M. | Marquette University Law School

Enjoy the journey! Law school is tough but it is also highly rewarding. The knowledge you’ll gain puts you in a privileged group of people with real power to make a change in our society, so appreciate the opportunity for what it is and take it one day at a time. Not every day will be a great day, but the three years will fly by.”

-Erica H. | George Washington University Law School