If you’ve gained admission to law school, you’re starting to realize the hardest part isn’t just getting in — it’s excelling once classes start in next fall.
We’ve asked seven Law Preview alums to reflect back apply 20/20 hindsight to some of your burning questions, like: “Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to students who are about to begin their 1L year?”, “What are the biggest mistakes that you saw classmates make during the 1L fall semester?” and “What were your favorite study aids during 1L and what made them so helpful?”… and, our personal favorite, “What is the one thing you wished you did NOT stress out about during the law school application process?”
Check out the article below to read their objective suggestions for navigating law school and, in some cases, learn what they wished they had done differently.
Stanford Law School
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to students who are about to begin their 1L year?
Before beginning 1L year, take a moment for yourself. Spend time with your family and friends, read the book you have been putting off, and take some time to relax however you enjoy letting off steam. 1L can be a rollercoaster, but you can stay in control if you stay on top of your health, happiness, and schoolwork.
Do whatever academic preparation makes you feel most comfortable. Have you always bought color-coded school supplies during the summer? Do that. Do you like to create a detailed study schedule and stick to it? Do that. Are you just doing things because others who seem to know “more” about law school suggest them? DON’T do that. Law school is likely different than anything you have experienced, but it is still school. If you have gotten yourself this far, odds are you know something about how you personally excel at it.
Make friends who are good for you, avoid discussing grades, and don’t spend time bashing hard classes or Professors you don’t mesh with. Focus on the positive, and your 1L year will be off to a great start. When you struggle (and you will struggle) lean on those you can trust to support you — reach out to a family member, friend, roommate, significant other, pet, or someone at your school. Keep fighting the good fight, stick to your values, and enjoy it — it will be over before you know it.
What is the one thing you wished you did NOT stress out about during the law school application process?
There is no point in stressing over your LSAT score. Do something productive instead: retake the test and improve it and/or write an addendum about why you scored that way. Were you sick? Were you anxious? Was it just lower than your practice scores? Don’t apologize — just be straightforward and honest.
What were your favorite study aids during 1L and what made them so helpful?
I did not use many study aids, but I always purchased and would keep on hand whatever study aids my Professors recommended. Your Professors will know what aids go best with their classes — ask them.
What are the biggest mistakes that you saw classmates make during the 1L fall semester?
I saw classmates skip meals, work all night, and lose themselves in their work. Be yourself and take care of yourself first. Grades don’t matter more than you do.
Did you purchase new/used casebooks, or rent them? What advantages/disadvantages did you experience — and do you plan to do it differently in coming semesters/years?
I purchased new casebooks and plan to continue doing so. I like to do my own highlighting and note-taking, plus I often sell them back when I am finished so it is not prohibitively expensive. Always check out used books and rentals though — someone may return a book in new condition which you can then get for a used/rental price.
How did you handle the competition/stress of 1L? What tactics did you use to avoid the stress that many 1L students experience?
Surround yourself with positive people. Set ground rules if you need to — don’t discuss grades and don’t compare yourselves.
Describe the outlining approach did you employed and when/how you began the outlining process.
I outlined with my study group. For one class, we worked from an older student’s outline. For our other classes, we worked from scratch, splitting up the work. We would all come together to edit and synthesize the sections, with the person who created the section leading the discussion. Furthermore, for some classes, we created attack plans collaboratively as well. We began about a month into classes, but we did not really begin to make progress and wrap things up until around November before Thanksgiving.
What time management strategies did you employ to make sure you devoted the appropriate amount of time to each class during the Reading Period?
I work best when focusing, so I tried to do a class a day (which I strayed from when necessary). It can depend a lot on your Reading Period length, but do whatever you need to do to keep yourself accountable: go to the library, integrate incentives, et cetera.