This might be hard for a struggling 1L to appreciate, but it’s possible to survive law school and build a rewarding career — whether in the law or not. Here’s some advice from recovering law students who have managed this feat.
Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, class of 1974
It will be necessary to make a substantial investment of time studying law for the next three years. Law school is not like college. It requires much, much more of a commitment. If you are in a relationship with a spouse or significant other, then you should consider that you are now in a ménage à trois that includes you, your intimate partner and the law.
It has been said that the law is a jealous lover. You need to reorder your life so that you can make law school a priority after your family commitment. It will be a test of you, your self-discipline and what you value most. Be thankful and appreciative of the support that you will receive from your loved ones. You will need it and it will contribute to your success.
H. RODGIN COHEN
Attorney, Sullivan & Cromwell
Harvard Law School, class of 1968
My advice is twofold and not as contradictory as it may seem: Immerse yourself in each of your courses, particularly with outside reading, and enjoy your probably last full education experience.
Women’s rights activist
Georgetown University Law Center, class of 2012
My advice to law school students is to resist the tendency to develop tunnel vision. I mean this in two respects.
First, when choosing classes, explore widely. If you’re at a large school like Georgetown, you can easily fill your schedule with courses in a limited area. Even if you feel confident that you want to specialize, push yourself to take other types of courses as well. You never know if, during your third year, you’re going to become the center of a political fight, and your life and career plans are going to change. OK, that’s probably not a normal occurrence, but you see my point: Plans change, so don’t get too focused too early.
Second, but more importantly, don’t focus solely on classes and journal and the traditional law school activities. No matter what anyone tells you, you can spare time to, and I believe have a responsibility to, intern for a legal clinic or to organize students on your campus for social justice. For example, along with the other members of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice, I organized students to advocate for full insurance coverage of contraception at Georgetown. That campaign provided us with great experience conducting case law and statutory research, drafting regulatory comments, negotiating and writing advocacy memos. That kind of experience is far more valuable to many employers, and being engaged with a world outside of your casebooks helps keep you sane and remind you why you went to law school.
Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, class of 1975
Assume that everyone in your class is smarter than you and work tirelessly to overcome that disadvantage.
TONY LA RUSSA
Former Major League Baseball player and manager
Florida State University College of Law, class of 1978
[Law school is an] outstanding education which prepares you for many careers. Grind through the first year — it makes more sense as you progress.
“JUDGE JUDY” JUDY SHEINDLIN
New York Law School, class of 1965
My maternal grandmother was not formally educated but was very smart. After my first year in law school, she asked me for an example of a finals question. I posed one and she confounded me by nailing the answer using logic and common sense. She was my best professor! The law must be applied logically and never stretch what is common sense.
Harvard Law School, class of 1978
Remember that law schools are kinder and gentler in general than in the days of One L. That said, there’s still competition for grades and jobs. Try to enjoy the education. Get to know a professor and value your classmates. They are your network.