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Write Like It Means Something to You

As a law student, your writing is the key to your academic success. If you can’t write, you can’t pass a law school exam, let alone excel in your studies. Yet, it’s not really your writing, is it? Think about it. You get told what to write, when you should be writing it, who to address, how long you have to write it, and exactly how you should say it. You spend a lot of time answering other people’s questions—namely, your professors’—in their very precise and particular way. As a 1L, I found the process to be difficult and tedious…

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Unsolicited Advice From a Law Professor: Surviving Final Exams

During my undergraduate years one of my friends mastered the art of maximum performance on minimal effort.  She rarely studied.  She often chose to sleep late over attending class.  She purchased the course textbooks only sometimes.  Other times she “purchased” the text the day before the final exam, studied that night, then returned it in time to meet the bookstore’s 24-hour return policy.  She reasoned that, if she could earn “B” grades with minimal effort, it was not worth the extra effort to go for the “A”.  For intelligent and intellectually gifted individuals like my friend, this approach may have…

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What is Law School Really Like?

You may be a junior in college, looking into law school applications for next year, or preparing to take the LSAT. Maybe you’re still in high school, and thinking about whether you want to become a lawyer one day. Or maybe you’re a paralegal, and you know exactly the area of law that interests you, and how a J.D. can help you gain the skills you need. Regardless of where you are in your academic or professional career, you may be wondering what the law school experience is actually like. What kinds of classes do you take in your first…

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Life in the Law School Lane: 4 Observations from the Back Row

Wow, October of 3L. Just thinking about how different my mindset is now (cruising through thinking about my upcoming travels and graduation) from 2L (stressed from over-involvement in extracurricular activities and whether I chose the right firm) and 1L (clueless about what I was learning and whether I should be in law school) at this time, is unfathomable. Now that some nostalgia has kicked in, I cannot help but reminisce on all those great times I had in law school, all the way in back row of classrooms. You know, I may not have retained the most information that a…

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Soldier On: Boot Camp to Law School – Do you Have What It Takes to Survive?

It’s October. If you’re in law school, you’re already half-way through your first term. Undoubtedly you want to thrive, not just survive – or so the adage goes. Yet I argue that sometimes you just need to survive! A graduate of the US Army’s SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), I’ve learned that resilience comes from surviving that which at the time seems impossible. Here are a few pointers I’d like to share so that when needed, you too can survive. Be decisive. Sometimes you’ll feel so overwhelmed with assignments and other school pressures that you just don’t know how…

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So You’re a 3L Now? Tips on Securing a Post-Bar Job

The time is finally here. You’re a 3L now. The last two years as a 1L and 2L may linger a little, but they are far gone now. After the initial excitement of returning to law school, you might begin to fret a little at the thought of having only two semesters left before you graduate and take the bar exam. Within these last two semesters, your schedule will be booked before you know it. There’s class, externship work, moot court, law review, student activities, networking events, going to the gym, bar night, oh and bar prep – we can’t…

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A Letter to My 22-Year-Old, 1L Self (Or, What I Wish I Had Known Back Then)

Dear 1L Kristine, Welcome to law school!  That goal you have been talking about since you were nine years old - you finally made it.  Congratulations!  But do not revel in your accomplishment for too long, for there is a lot of hard work ahead of you. Law school is an intimidating place.  You are going to be a little (or a lot) scared, especially in the first year.  That’s okay.  Everyone else is scared, too.  They are just better at hiding it than you are.  You are going to have doubts.  You are going to think everyone is smarter…

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Your Brain, Law School, and Law Practice: Present and Future

August is a fresh start for students as well as graduates starting new jobs.  Before you lose that feeling of excitement, let’s consider how to plan for a better future in small steps.  The Power of the Present I have talked before about the brain’s inability to engage in accurate forecasting of our future selves.  It leads us, for example, to procrastinate because we think that our future selves will magically be able to handle the task later (on the weekend, after the weekend, tomorrow, next week - just not today).  Of course, that inevitably leaves us with the same skill…

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What should I read to get ready for law school?

“I’m starting law school in the fall.  What should I read before I start?” At about this time each year, future 1Ls might ask a friend, relative, or lawyer whom they happen to know:, “What should I read to prepare for law school.” My co-author Barry Friedman (NYU) and I have three answers: one that may surprise you, one that we hope will amuse you, and one that is … well … a bit self-serving.  (Yes, we’ve written a book to prep students for law school.) The last answer also comes with an offer…. First, the surprise. You don’t need to…

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Life in the Law School Lane: 3 Unspoken Law School Rules

As my second year comes to a close, I have been reminiscing a lot on what it has meant to be a law student. This was mostly sparked by a discussion I recently had in one of my classes, in which we discussed the “norms” of being a University of Virginia School of Law student, and whether those same norms would apply at any of the other 200+ law schools in this country. Apparently, life here at UVA is truly unique, between our “collegiality” and softball and Thomas Jefferson motifs. However, I am certain that these rules can and should…

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