1L Survival Tips

By Naomi Butler, Staff Writer, 1L

During your 1L year, you will face many challenges that you may have never even fathomed in your undergraduate years. Law school is more than just college; it is job training for your career. Choices you may not have had to make in your previous years of education come full circle when you are in law school. Some of these choices seem silly; some rather difficult. But at some point along the way, they need to be made. Let us talk about some of those choices.

Making friends: While everyone is interested in making friends, this may not always be a wise priority for your first year of law school. This is partially because you do not know if these “friends” are still going to be here for year two, or if you are even going to be here for year two; and partially because you just do not have the time to socialize. In addition, maintaining a new friendship can become burdensome in your first year and can even be a distraction. Friends want to hang out, they want to study together, go shopping together, and even go out and eat together. When you are in your first year of law school, this can take away much needed time for homework and your own studies. The key to socializing is balance. Try to keep the “hanging out” outside of class to a minimum unless you are actually studying for midterms or finals.

Exercise: As you have probably figured out by now, law school can be very stressful. One way to deal with stress is to exercise. Exercising at least thirty minutes a day – even if it just involves walking – will give you more energy, wake you up, and have you feeling refreshed. It will also give your mind a break from thinking about school. It is one of the most advised tools to deal with the stresses of law school.

Take time for yourself: It is not selfish to tell people, “No, thank you,” when they ask you to study or to hang out with them down at Gaslamp. It is a good thing to decline invitations and take care of yourself every once in a while. No one else knows what is inside your head or knows your needs like you do. If you are feeling tired, odds are, you probably need that extra hour of sleep. You are not going to do ten percent better on your exams because you spent an extra hour doing homework instead of sleeping. Remember, your brain can only handle so much information at once and any informational intake when you are exhausted will likely be lost. Relax and take a moment to occasionally breathe. You need it.

Limit your alcohol intake: Blowing off a little steam is nice occasionally, but if you are out drinking often, you likely will not retain the same information you would have had you been well rested and at your best. Remember, your body needs rest and so do you.

Pick your study group wisely: Sometimes the people you pick for your study groups do not always work out. They may talk too much about things outside of school work. They can get easily distracted and distract you or other members of your group. Study groups are not like a marriage- you can break up with members of your group and that is perfectly okay. Pick a group that suits your study needs and habits and go from there. Set goals for what your group plans to accomplish during the sessions and stick to it. If that is not working out, you can freely move on and find another group.

Finally: Law school is hard enough as it is. Do not do things that will make it harder on yourself. The curve is tough enough without you creating reasons to fall under it. Re-evaluate some of your choices if you find that after midterms you are not doing as well as you wanted. Sometimes, tests scores have more to do with study habits; other times, it has to do with one’s lifestyle and attitude as well. So, always keep in mind the possible effects of the choices that you make during your first year of law school.


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