Ten law school hacks to start your 1L year on top

If you’re starting 1L year in the fall, you’re about to begin the most important year of your law school career. Doing well during your 1L year leads to a higher class rank, academic honors, and better job offers. Prestigious law firms hire for 2L summer employment opportunities based on 1L grades, and this is why it’s so important to be as prepared as possible before starting your first year of law school.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of ten law school hacks that will help ensure you start 1L year on top!

1. Watch TV (yes, you read that right!)

Looking for something to binge this summer? There are tons of TED Talks and documentaries that you can watch that will expose you to important topics that are beneficial for incoming law students. Topics range from criminal defense and legal injustices to law school teaching methods and habits of top students.

Learn more here.

2. Get some reading in

If you prefer reading over watching TV, download our free Five Must-Reads The Summer Before Law School PDF. This form gives you five recommended readings on a number of beneficial topics, as well as links to where you can find the texts. These readings will give you a better understanding of the law before you start law school.

Don’t forget, our free resources page offers a number of articles and tools that will help prepare you for law school!

3. Create a budget

There’s no avoiding the fact that law school is expensive, but there are ways to mitigate the heavy costs that come along with attending law school. Being financially savvy in law school starts with budgeting.

Law Preview has a free budget worksheet for entering law students that teaches you how to budget while in law school and help you graduate with as little debt as possible. Creating a budget now will not only help you minimize the financial burden of law school, but it will also give you financial planning tools that you can use beyond your law school career.

Lastly, the best way students can minimize law school debt is to start applying to as many scholarships as possible, as early as possible.

4. Apply for scholarships

Whether you’re still in the process of applying to law school, waiting for law school decisions, or if you’ve been accepted, now is the time to be applying to scholarships.

Law Preview offers the One Lawyer Can Change The World scholarship in which students can win up to $10,000 toward 1L tuition. First place is awarded $10,000, second place is awarded $5,000, and the eight runners-up are awarded $1,000 each.

Entering law students can also check out the AdmissionsDean website to find more scholarships available to incoming 1Ls. You can also download our free Scholarship Organizer to help you stay organized throughout the scholarship application process.

5. Start gathering your supplies

A great way to start 1L year on the right track is to make sure you’re organized and ready for day one. Making sure you have everything you need before you start law school is an easy way to eliminate a potential stressor.

Download our Supplies Checklist here.

6. Participate in live Question & Answer sessions

Law Preview hosts live Question & Answer sessions over the course of the spring semester. The session topics include: paying for law school, crushing 1L year, and transferring to a different law school. Students are welcome to participate and ask questions during these sessions, even if the questions aren’t related to the session topic!

Joining these sessions gives you access to Law Preview president, Don Macaulay, as well as guest speakers that include professors or upperclassmen and alumni who succeeded during their 1L year. Asking questions and hearing advice from those who have walked in your shoes is an effective way to help calm those 1L jitters. Sign up for our newsletter for session announcements.

If you are unable to join the sessions, the recorded versions can be found here.

7. Learn about case briefs and outlining

A case brief is a summary of the most significant portions of a court’s legal decision. It captures and condenses relevant information and places it in a format that makes it easy to understand and simple to recall.

When you first start law school, assigned cases can be like reading a new language. Through case briefing, students are better able to digest dense and confusing court opinions. These briefs also serve as study aids when exams approach. Instead of going back and reading entire cases, students are able to return to their case briefs.

Writing case briefs also prepares students for the dreaded law school cold-calling. Law school professors will call on students at random to analyze specific parts of the assigned case. By writing case briefs, students have a dedicated “cheat sheet” to turn to when this happens.

You can read more about case briefs here.

8. Brush up on the law school grading curve

A lot of students assume that undergraduate success is a solid indicator that they’ll do well in law school, but it’s important to recognize that law school is not the same as undergrad.

In law school, your grade is almost always comprised entirely of one final exam. This is a stark difference to the quizzes, essays, mid-term and final exams your grades were likely made up of in undergrad.

On top of this, law schools impose a strict grading curve on students. Law school professors must award A’s only to those students who demonstrate a complete mastery of the material in comparison to the rest of their classmates.

9. Sign up for a 1L strategy session

If you have questions or concerns about starting 1L year, you can sign up for a free 1L strategy session with President of Law Preview, Don Macaulay. Don can help you come up with a plan to start your 1L year on the right track. Just pick a time slot that works for you and get those questions ready.

Students can sign up for a 1L strategy session here.

10. Take a law school prep course

Given the importance of 1L year and the impact it will have on your law career, signing up for a law school prep course is an excellent way to learn how to conquer law school before day one.

Our Law Preview course is taught by real law school professors and simulates a law school class. It offers 48 hours of in-depth learning into core 1L classes, including contracts, property, torts, criminal law, civil procedure, and constitutional law. Law Preview also provides four academic skills workshops as well as a deep dive into legal research & writing. You can download a sample Law Preview course syllabus here.

Be sure to check out our course scholarship page to see if you qualify for a full-tuition scholarship to the Law Preview course. Keep in mind, course scholarships will be posted in February.

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