It probably comes as no surprise that you will face some serious challenges during the first year of law school.
Most entering law students walk into their first semester with a vague understanding of the 1L grading curve, how the law school pedagogy differs from undergrad, and why a law school exam is genuinely unlike any other exam they’ve ever encountered. But, given the importance of a strong start to your law school academic career, nothing about it should be vague or left open to interpretation.
To provide clarity, I’ve compiled a list of the five most common myths I regularly debunk during my 30-Minute Strategy Sessions with incoming 1Ls.
Getting into law school was the hardest part
Ummm, no. Not at all.
It’s true that the volume of applications, and the overall quality of applicants, made the 2020-21 law admissions cycle the most competitive cycle in 20 years. While getting into your dream school may have been challenging, it certainly wasn’t the toughest part of your journey.
Most law students find that the learning curve in law school (most specifically, the first semester) closely resembles a right angle. Not only do substantive classes like Contracts, Torts, and Civil Procedure present new material, but the skills needed to master these subjects and ace the exams are also entirely foreign.
Couple the steep learning curve with the competitive pressure most students experience, and by mid-September, you’ll be thinking the “getting in” part of law school was a breeze!
The first semester is when students can strategically improve their chances for 1L success and is no time for trial-and-error. Mathematically, the fall semester GPA largely determines your year-end class rank; consequently, developing a thoughtful plan before you start law school can significantly help you avoid missteps when it matters most.
In college, you built lifelong relationships, but law school is too competitive to make friends
Law school can certainly foster fierce competition. While it’s essential to do everything to ensure your spot at the top of the class, that doesn’t mean stepping on your classmates as you climb.
Embracing a community of people who know what you’re going through will help you feel less isolated. Your law school classmates are also the people who understand the unique stressors that law school can bring – a trench warfare mentality that forges even stronger bonds than you may have made in college.
Not only is making friends and keeping connected with people a way to stay sane during law school, but it’s also essential to your professional future after you graduate. Your law school classmates will become your future coworkers, opposing counsel, and (hopefully) even clients. Likely, you’ll need a classmate’s endorsement when trying to make a lateral move to their firm as an associate. Therefore, make sure that your classmates respect you and your work ethic.
My boyfriend or girlfriend and I are ‘rock solid’ – 1L won’t break us!
I always warn incoming law students: “Never fall in or out of love during the 1L year.” Because so much is riding on your 1L academic performance, the fall semester needs to be focused primarily on two things: your studies and your physical and mental health. So, in addition to logging 12-hour days in class and the library, you’ll also need to schedule long runs or regular trips to the gym to burn off stress.
A failure to manage the expectations of your friends, family, and significant others about your needs before the all-important first year can result in you looking very selfish and self-centered. It’s no wonder why I repeatedly hear about the annual turkey drop (a Thanksgiving-timed breakup because “you’ve changed”) in the fall of the 1L year.
Law school will indeed change the way you think and view the world, but it may also change how others view you. Before that happens, make sure you sit your friends and family down for an honest conversation about what the 1L year means to you and the trajectory of your professional career, the stressors you feel, and how they can best support you over the next nine months.
Heartbreak right before your fall semester exams is precisely the type of distraction you need to avoid. This summer, take some time to have an honest conversation with the people in your life to explain your new love language and help also manage their expectations about your upcoming availability.
Law school is like undergrad
Spoiler alert: law school is nothing like undergrad. Moreover, your strong academic performance in undergrad isn’t necessarily an indicator that it will be the same for law school.
In undergrad, your grades were likely comprised of homework assignments, quizzes, essays, and exams. Your teachers may have even dropped your lowest test score in some of your classes.
In law school, grades are almost always determined by one final exam at the end of the course. On top of this, professors must grade exams anonymously using a strict grading curve. That means your professor will assess your mastery of the law compared to your classmates, and there’s no room to award extra points to a “favorite” student.
You can’t prepare for law school
Yes, you can! You wouldn’t attempt to run a marathon without training first; likewise, you shouldn’t start law school without first readying yourself for that experience.
Law Preview makes a genuine difference in the lives of law students and future lawyers. Our 48-hour law school prep course readies students for the rigors of law school and provides the skills necessary for academic success and a rewarding law school experience. Leading professors from top law schools around the country teach students like you what will be expected of them when entering law school.
Students receive overviews of the core first-year courses, including Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, and Torts. Beyond substantive doctrine, Law Preview students also develop resources, techniques, and strategies to ensure academic success.
This one-of-a-kind course is not simply a “preview” of the law school experience. It is a carefully designed program that prepares and positions serious incoming students to excel in law school and, ultimately, to flourish as lawyers. Students who take the course learn the best methods for briefing cases, preparing course outlines, and managing their time, all with an eye toward success on law school exams. Along the way, students also learn about life in law school and strategies for securing employment after graduation.
Law Preview does more than give students a competitive advantage. Above all, it produces better law students and, as a result, better lawyers. Students who take the prep course are far less intimidated by the demands of law school and are more comfortable with the distinctive language, discourse, and methods of legal argument. Consequently, Law Preview graduates are less likely to be overwhelmed by the challenges of the law school curriculum. Law school is something to enjoy, not fear, and Law Preview puts your concerns to rest so that you can get the most from your education – right from the start.
But don’t take my word for it. Read how thousands of Law Preview alums have described the impact of their Law Preview experience.
For more information about whether Law Preview might be the right way to start your law school career, download the Law Preview course syllabus.