5 Secrets to Law School Success from a Top 1L Student

Guest Blogger: Kate Fox, 1L Student

Kate Fox is a 1L at University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a social media intern for BARBRI Law Preview. She attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, obtaining a degree in Marketing with a minor in Applied Statistics. As a first year, she has secured a summer legal internship with FedEx Ground in Pittsburgh… Read More

You will hear all sorts of tips, tricks, and advice from law students and lawyers. Law school is tough, and everyone has their own way of dealing with it. It’s great to talk to current law students at the schools you are applying to and figure out the climate there. Talk to family or friends that have attended law school. There are many secrets to learn, and you’ll come up with some of your own as well!

Don’t Think About What Everyone Else is Doing

Law school is very different from undergrad or other graduate programs. You might have been towards the top of your class before, held leadership positions or been working and gaining experience. But now, you’re in a more competitive environment with a bunch of people just as motivated as you. Don’t underestimate how intelligent or successful the people around you are. Despite how they answer their cold calls or how they dress or what job they get, those people could very well be getting the top grades in the class. The reality is that no one knows how they will handle exams until they happen. For the 15 weeks prior to that, your job is to focus on what study habits work best for you and how well you prepare for class. Don’t get caught up in how many hours other people spend in the library or what supplements they are using. It’s not bad to share information or to learn about different study habits, but don’t let them trick you into thinking your habits aren’t sufficient.

Focus on Your Grades

You probably know how important grades are. If you don’t, sorry to break the news to you now! Grades determine what kinds of internships and jobs you are eligible for, what journals you may be asked to sit on, and what your Latin honors will be upon graduation. It is vital to focus on your grades. Try different habits like study groups, flash cards, supplements and outlining. While not everyone can be in the top 10%, it is more attainable for you if you have help along the way. Ask the academic success administration at your school during orientation if there are any supplemental classes offered to help with exam taking strategy. Ask about free supplements through the library. Anything may help. The most important things you can do are the readings for class and continuous outlining.

Keep Up with Your Physical and Mental Health

This is a big one. As much as grades are important, they aren’t everything. If you run yourself down by not getting sleep, nutrition or stress relief, you will not make it long enough to get an A on that exam. Be a champion for yourself and get yourself what you need. Law school is also a very stressful time, so there may be times where you need to talk to someone about your stress. That is perfectly normal, and it doesn’t have to be a formal thing. Talk to friends or family and keep them updated. Don’t be that one kid that doesn’t call his parents for a month. You need your support system now more than ever. Know your limits and get help if you need it. You must take care of yourself before you take care of business! Check out our article on The 4 Healthy Habits of Successful Law Students to learn more.

Know Everyone You Can

You have probably heard the word “networking” more than you wanted to. It really is important. But, don’t just think of it as an opportunity for a job. Get to know your faculty. They can be the best mentors because they work with students all the time. They could be sources for letters of recommendation for jobs. They often have fascinating careers and are happy to share. Get to know your fellow students. If you are studying in the same city you plan to practice in, look around your classroom. These people will probably work with you, against you or for you someday. Don’t burn any bridges. And finally, get to know your alumni. These people were in your shoes and now they are valuable members of the legal profession. They could give you advice on navigating law school and the job search process. They also know so many people and could refer you to colleagues for jobs or mentorship.

Establish a Routine

You probably know by now how different your work ethic will need to be in law school. It can be overwhelming reading hundreds of pages, outlining, reviewing and going to class. The best way to conquer it is to establish a routine and stick to it. Get a good planner book and write everything down that you want to get done for the week. You must find the time somewhere to get it all done. Think about it often and don’t be afraid to change it throughout the semester. If you need time to socialize with friends or to meet up with family, immediately reschedule your school work. It seems like such simple advice, but you will learn just how challenging it is to stick with a plan.