At least once, if not twice, in every girl’s life comes that moment where she asks herself, “Should I go to law school?” Many people answer that question with a no and move on, many grapple with the question for years, and may know that the answer is yes right away. Law school is a big commitment. It’s a minimum of three years of hard work, it can cost an arm and a leg, and it’s hard to know what you’re getting into until you are in it.
Because I have many friends who are in law school and many who are considering it, I wanted to reach out to a few of them and ask them what they learned during their first year of law school and about any advice they have for people beginning their law school journey.
I hope you find this piece helpful in deciding if, when, and where to go to law school and feel confident knowing there’s a space for strong, conservative women out there in law.
Seek out advice, but do what works for you. Older students are a great resource, and usually very happy to share their experiences and insights—so don’t shy away from asking questions when you’re unsure. This could be your TA or orientation leader, or 2Ls and 3Ls you meet through the Federalist Society or a faith-based group at your law school. Law school is a huge adjustment, and everyone remembers what it was like to be a 1L trying to figure it all out. People are always happy to talk about what they’ve learned along the way, from advice on professors and courses to summer jobs, study tips, and balancing law school with your personal life. Once you’ve talked to a few people about what they’ve done, though, it’s important to focus on what works best for you. You might not be the person who learns by briefing every case, who needs a morning workout routine, or who wants to be at every bar review–and that’s okay! Think about what helped during undergrad, try a few new things, and be open to adjusting along the way.
Caroline, George Mason
Spend less time writing case briefs and outlining, and spend more time doing practice questions for the exam. Case briefs are helpful for class but they take a lot of time to write and most professors don’t care if you know case facts on the exam anyways. Definitely read the cases for class to prepare for the possibility of a cold call, but don’t spend too much time briefing. I print out a commercial case brief from online and then while I’m reading for class I will add my own notes in the margin and highlight legally significant facts in the case brief. This saves me time but I’m still prepared for class. At the end of the semester make sure you do several practice problems. Law school exams are different than every other exam because they’re application based. The most common type of question is an “issue spotter” where you read a hypothetical scenario, spot the legal issues, and write an analysis. Your first exam should not be the first time you try to answer one, which is the mistake most 1L’s make. If you get a professor that you have a hard time learning from, use supplemental material like YouTube, Quimbee, and the Acing book series. There are so many resources available especially for 1L courses so make sure to take advantage of them.
My first year of law school was not the norm, I was facing medical issues I hadn’t dealt with. I could tell you the normal advice, do your reading, take good notes, and participate, but the best advice I can give you is this: your classmates are not your competition, they are your colleagues. I struggled my first semester with not being willing to ask friends for help. I thought I could do it on my own. Second semester this changed. I started asking my classmates questions and developed personal relationships with professors to get help when needed. I was open about my medical issues and focused on still succeeding at school. This connection with my classmates led to me improving my GPA and finally feeling like I belonged at law school. By asking my classmates for help I got to discuss concepts and work towards truly understanding the topics instead of just memorizing for an exam. It also helped me to develop relationships and connections I will carry with me throughout my legal career.
Kimberly, University of Akron
Something I learned during my first year of law school is having a solid study group / friend group is very important. Most of the people who dropped out or failed out did not have people in the school to lean on when things get tough (and things will get tough). Law school is the hardest course load most of us will ever have. Having friends to help when you miss class or don’t understand something goes along way. Also having friends you can cry to when a cold call goes horrible or a grade is not what you expected is super helpful. Without my friend group I would not have made it through law school. Law school can be very competitive and intimidating but having a friendly face makes it much easier.