By Samuel Scherr, BARBRI Bar Review DLE
Law school is simultaneously one of the most challenging and most rewarding experiences someone can endure. It’s a test of your intellectual ability, your wit, your time management skills, and your ability to handle 8:00 a.m. class on a Friday after a wild Thursday night with your fellow law students. But these are the obvious things every new law student knows (or at least learns on day one).
Here are a few things you didn’t know about law school, but that would be helpful to know from the get-go.
Often, law students begin their law school careers by trapping themselves in their books and lectures and losing sight of their personal self-health and who they are.
If you’re a sports nut, still play those pick-up basketball games. If movies are your thing, still go once a week on Ten-Dollar Tuesdays. Law school is your new job, but it does not define you.
Focus on yourself
Do you. The worst thing you can do in law school is ask someone “how far are you on making your outline” or “how well do you know this stuff?” All that can come from that is worry and panic when it’s revealed that someone may be further along than you. We all get there by exam day.
Focus on what you can control, work hard, and make sure you’re keeping pace with the class. Keeping pace with all of your classmates doesn’t matter until exam day.
First-year grades really do matter most
Your first-year grades are truly the only thing that matters for the big law firm jobs during your second summer.
Nothing else matters. Yes, you need to have good interviewing skills, and yes, you need to present yourself well and have strong extracurriculars. But for the most part, the big law firms that come to interview students during OCI (prestigious “on-campus interviews”) only care about meeting with the top 10% or top 15% of the class – aka, the students with the highest grades.
As such, if big-law interests you, your study habits, case briefing, and day-to-day activities are very important during 1L year. Focus on your classes and do whatever is necessary to ensure your grades are at or near the top.
Want to learn the skills you need to get to the top of the class? Sign up for a Law Preview Law School Prep course and learn core 1L material, exam taking strategies and more, before day one.
If you don’t get a job during OCI, don’t panic
If you don’t lock up a job for your 2L summer (which could turn into an offer for after law school), do not lose your mind.
Less than 25% of students find jobs this way. Your law school will likely have an employment server where you can find jobs, career services will keep an eye on you, plus there are tons of job fairs year-round.
You will find an amazing job. Trust the process.
And don’t forget to create a free student account on the Law Preview Job Network, while you’re at it.
Your classmates are your network
Law school is graded on a curve, and the job market is competitive, so law students are effectively competing against each other to place themselves in the best position to get hired by the best firm/job. But your competition does not have to be your enemy.
Build your social/professional network. Your friend who got the job you wanted may be your ticket to that firm another day. When your classmates’ firms have openings, the first people they reach out to are their friends and those they trust. Do your best to be the person that people want to talk to when their firm is hiring.
About Sammy Scherr
Sammy is a graduate from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, class of 2016. He has been working for BARBRI as a Director of Legal Education for 3 years, assisting students in their efforts to #OwnTheBar in California, Oregon, Hawaii, and Nebraska. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a minor in United States history.
In his spare time, Sammy performs as an MC/DJ/Dancer for an event entertainment company and is working toward securing a real estate agent license in California as well.