Jamie Bence

Five Things 1Ls Can Do Now to Make Orientation Easier

The clock is winding down! It’s almost time for the march of the newbies, er, 1L orientation, at many law schools around the country.  Orientation is, for many, a really chaotic time full of new friends and general law school confusion.  But, there are a lot of items to check off in that first week, inside and outside of the classroom. Here are a few things you can do before you head to campus to make the first few weeks a bit less hectic:

1.  Buy Your Books Now and Don’t Blow off those First Assignments. There is a lot of reading in law school.  You will probably get your first assignments well before your first class.  Those first few cases you read will be very, very tough.  Trust us, it gets easier (and you might not end up doing much of the reading...) but this is a skill you need to take the time to nail down now so when you have to do it, you can. 

2. Skim the Table of Contents. Do you really know what civil procedure covers?  Did you think tort was supposed to have an “e” at the end? Skim the table of contents of each of your casebooks and get a sense of what the class is really about, so that you have a roadmap in your head as the professor moves into the material.  Also, the table of contents can be a godsend for those days when you’re feeling lost.

3. Visit the Campus. If you are lucky enough to be nearby, go visit the campus.  I’m not saying you have to stake it out like you’re about to invade Normandy, but it will be helpful to know if public transit is really as close as it looks on the map and whether the on campus gym is a place you will actually work out.  These are inane items now, but when you are super busy in a few weeks, they will be stressors. 

4. Make some day-to-day plans. Are you going to pack your lunch? How are you going to get to school? Are you traveling with roommates? Do you need to ask your spouse to change his/her schedule to accommodate your law school hours?  Are you committed to studying on those free Friday afternoons, or do you have somewhere else you need to spend your time?  Where will you study on weekends? Thinking about how your day-to-day life is going to be once school starts can save you some chaos in the future.  You don’t need to nail down every little item and of course flexibility is key in any new adventure, but you also need to have a plan that works with your lifestyle, budget and personal obligations.

5. Talk to Any Alums or Upper Class Students. It is not only important to network with attorneys, but they will also have gleamed some insight into the institution you are attending.  They will also know the toughest professors, and can point you to the librarians who are the most helpful for research assignments.  In addition, they will likely be able to rattle off administrative resources that could take your hours or days to find on your own.

And lastly, take a deep breath and enjoy.   Law school might not be the most fun three years of your life, but you will meet some smart and dynamic people, and use your mind in ways you can’t imagine or understand right now. Get ready to enjoy the ride!

Do you have any tips for 1Ls heading to campus?  Leave them in the comments or tweet to us @MsJDTweets!

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