NWLSO's Tips: What We Wish We'd Known Before We Started Law School
Editor's Note: Ms. JD is pleased to present a new series of blog posts as part of our recent NWLSO expansion. Every two weeks, the Ms. JD Board will answer a question aimed at helping our readers succeed in and get the most out of law school. This week's NWLSO's Tips will focus on "What We Wish We'd Known Before We Started Law School." If you're enjoying these tips, you can sign up to be an individual member of NWLSO, or you can start a NWLSO chapter at your law school (or check on the status of NWLSO at your law school) by emailing our NWLSO liaison Liz Hague at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. I wish I would have known that the Socratic Method wasn't going to kill me. It sounds a little dramatic, I know, but I spent the first semester absolutely terrified of hearing my name called by the Professors. Turns out, it's not so bad. You might be embarrassed at some point, but it's not the end of the world and nobody will remember. Law school gets so much better when you make peace with the Socratic Method. Janet Wallace, Ms. JD VP
2. I wish I'd understood the power of the relationships I would build in law school. I came into law school prepared to work hard, but I didn't realize how many opportunities would arise out of conversations I had and relationships I built, both at my law school and outside of it. Liz Hague, NWLSO liaison
3. I wish I would have understood the value and importance of individuality. Yes, law school is competitive and you are surrounded by your peers but it is incredibly important to pay the most attention to yourself, respect your individuality, and not worry about others. Trust me, it's not worth the added stress! Liz Vaysman, Board Member
4. Every semester pick one class in particular where you focus your energies. Rather than spreading your efforts equally throughout all your classes (a scenario where it just won't be possible for you to do your best in any single class), pick one where you go to office hours, pursue a mentorship relationship with your professor, and actively participate in class. It feels good to see what you're capable of when you try to give your very best to something discrete. Noorain Khan, Board Member
5. Branch outside your law school--make law student/law professional connections outside your law school. It's rewarding to meet and learn from others who may have had different experiences. Noorain Khan, Board Member
6. I wish I would have known that I should think about taking classes that might be of practical value to me after law school! Although I thought I'd become a litigator and took multiple trial advocacy classes, I wish I would have pushed myself to think of other practical ways I'd likely use my license to practice law. For example, I wish I would have known to take more corporate formation classes, because knowing how to start a company would be helpful given my entrepreneurial spirit. I wish I would have thought to take at least one tax class or participate in the tax pro bono program at my law school - because, although unsexy, taxes are relevant for everyone! Basically, I wish I would have thought about my law school classes as practical learning and not just the necessary credits to graduate and take the bar exam. Nicole Chiu-Wang, Board Member
7. A truism: Grades Matter. It is very important to focus on doing well especially during your first year. That being said, overstressing about your grades will only lead to anxiety and keep you from being focused. Figure out how you study best, use resources like outlines and any exam banks your school has available, and do not be afraid to go to office hours to get extra time with your professors on issues you don't understand. Most importantly, have the confidence to ditch any study method that is not working for you. 1L year can feel like you're a lemming but don't be afraid to recognize and use what works for you! Katie Larkin-Wong, Ms. JD President
8. Write a letter to yourself to be opened after the first year of law school reminding yourself of what you initially hoped to get out of the experience and what your original aspirations were. Expect to grow and change, but sometimes it's nice to have a reminder in the middle of getting caught up in things. Noorain Khan, Board Member
As always, if you have any questions about NWLSO (or suggestions for future posts!) feel free to reach out to Liz Hague, our NWLSO liaison, at email@example.com. We encourage all of you to join NWLSO for even more helpful programming and content!