Your first year of law school can make or break you. It WILL impact your future as an attorney because it sets you up (or holds you back) from career opportunities during and after law school.
So as you start your first year, it’s important to keep three things in mind:
1. This is law school, this is not undergrad.
You can’t rely on your experience from undergrad to succeed, or even get by, during your 1L year. In law school, you will be required to attend every class, be on time, and be prepared.
You can’t get by reviewing lecture notes alone, because so much of what happens in class is predicated on your reading assignments. You’ll be expected to read hours worth of cases, understand them, AND apply them (i.e., recognize why you’ve been assigned to read them). You’ll usually be graded on only one exam where you must apply what you’ve learned. On top of all of this, it is likely that your professor has to distribute grades along a curve. So that A grade is only saved for a select few.
2. Your 1L grades are (almost) everything.
It is often the case that your summer job or internship after your 1L year is based on your first semester grades. And your post-2L year summer gig will be based on your entire 1L grades. Want to go for a clerkship? That will take into account your 1L and 2L grades. Some law firms, non-profits, or government agencies have minimum GPA requirements, meaning they won’t even look at your resume if your grades don’t make the cut. This is why underperforming your first year can really come back to haunt you.
3. Get ahead and prepare now.
To get ahead of your classmates and put yourself in a good position during your 1L year, you must do everything you can to prepare yourself for your law school courses. That means reading course-specific study guides, getting your Critical Pass Law School Flashcards, and getting yourself organized to hit the ground running on day one.