Posted: August 8th, 2013
So you started law school this year. Yay!
You’ve finished 1L orientation. *whew*
(Wait for it)
Have the nerves started to set in yet? Well, STOP!
Before you let your emotions take over and put you into a stress-induced panic attack, take the time to review these simple tips that may seem straightforward, but are often overlooked by first year law students each year:
1. Start thinking about your law career path. Criminal law. Family law. Tax law. Corporate law. The law practice areas of today seem endless, don’t they? Make your transition from college to career as seamless as possible by thinking about what area of practice would best suit you. Start thinking about your strengths and interests. Research different areas of practice online and write notes about each one. This tool can give you an idea of what’s out there. Would you like to represent large corporations or individual clients? Is land use & zoning up your alley or is insurance law more your thing? Do you think you’ll work best in a small firm or a large firm? Get your ideas flowing. Schedule an appointment with your career advisor to brainstorm about options and get detailed career insight for your personal strengths and interests.
2. Network. Network. Network. Some 1L students make the mistake of not doing this the first semester and miss out on great available help. Meet professors during office hours. Go to networking events. Apply to on-campus interviews. Connect with the Office of Career and Professional Development. Network with whomever possible during first semester, especially different alumni: Alumni now at law firms, alumni at firms in which you are interested in working, alumni you know in your neighborhood, etc. Even a small connection can give you a huge leg up in looking for 1L or 2L summer employment, and best part? People are naturally willing to help! A simple conversation about their experiences on campus or their careers after graduation can lead into the formation of the core base of contacts that will help you in your future law career.
3. Health is wealth. Maintain a balanced diet. Get regular exercise. Drink plenty of water. Sounds like an elementary school lecture on the food pyramid, right? Healthy living isn’t just instilled in young children anymore. It’s preached throughout your lifespan. So why stop while attending law school? Keeping a proper diet, exercising regularly, and having a regular sleep schedule will give you more energy than that caffeine-laced energy drink. Good health is long-term. Quick fixes like espresso, sugar, and brief cat naps before exams will only work short-term. Before you know it, those late afternoon runs to the coffee shop and stacks of take-out boxes will be taking a toll on your body and mind. Use the gym on campus. Take a walk with an audiobook. Ditch the greasy food for some quinoa and greens. Mmmmmm.
4. Be kind and courteous to your classmates. Everyone already feels that it is one big competition in law school, which can create pointless tension. Instead, practice kindness, consideration, and helpfulness each day. Sounds so easy, right? Try it then — EVERY day. The legal community is small so it’s good to be known as a genuine and pleasant person. Your classmates are the first group of contacts you will make in your law career, so be sure to get your reputation in the legal world off on the right foot. Don’t forget that you’ll be around the same group of people on a daily basis for over a year, so be sure to be nice to your new family of 100+. Offer to share notes or outlines. Make sure you try and get to know 2Ls and 3Ls, too. They are great allies when it comes to advice and tricks of the trade. They might even give away their old outlines and study aids, or even give advice on specific professors’ teaching or grading style.
5. Have Fun! Be sure to take some time out for yourself each week and enjoy the benefits and opportunities that are in store for you at Wake Forest University. Walking paths, world-class gyms, adventure trips, sporting events, and so many more activities are waiting to fill your (albeit limited) free time and reduce the stress levels in your body. Get involved with the various social clubs on campus, SBA fundraisers, and happy hours which can be fun and relaxing as well as circle back to the all-powerful networking rule.
You’ve made it this far along the long law school path, so keep on trucking! Congratulations to you. Excitement and fun (and yes, lots of studying) await you this year. Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride each step of the way!