5 Tips to Make the Most of Your 1L Year

By Mark Wilson, Esq. on August 04, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Welcome to FindLaw for Legal Professionals' Back to (Law) School Week!

Each day this week, we'll present a different blog post geared to acclimate you to the fact that summer vacation is almost over. From all you terrified 1Ls to bored 3Ls, there's something different for everyone to learn in the weeks leading up to law school.

Today, we offer our Top 5 tips for 1Ls to make the most out of their first year in law school:

1. Find a Mentor.

As a 1L new to law school, you have no idea what you're doing. Luckily, there are people at law school who have been there before. They're called "professors," and you'll see them occasionally in the hallways. Mentors not only give you advise you on what to do right, but a good relationship with your mentor over the years can lead to career opportunities. Of course, it's not just professors: Mentors can be anyone, including other lawyers you know. We've largely seen it all, and we survived law school, so you can, too.

2. Study Hard. No Really, Study Hard.

I hope it goes without saying, but law school isn't like your undergraduate education. I know some 1Ls already have another graduate degree, so you guys can skip this one. But for the rest of you, huddle up: Do your homework. Doing well in your 1L year is very important, as it can qualify you for additional scholarships and internship opportunities available to the best of the best, including coveted places on moot court and law review. If you never had to really study before, now's the time to figure out how.

Going solo out of school? Spend more time developing practice skills and leave the marketing work for the experts.

3. Make Friends.

But, you say, "I'm not here to make friends." Yes you are -- sort of. You're here to make colleagues. There will come a day, when you're a lawyer, that one of your law school classmates calls you about a business opportunity. Maybe he or she needs to associate outside counsel -- whatever. In law school, if you were the standoff-ish person whom nobody liked, or just preferred not to hang out with anyone, then you lost a lot of opportunities. Think of being collegial in law school as your introduction to legal networking events. The friends and acquaintances you make in law school form your initial career network, so spend time forming that network.

4. Have a Life.

You'll have plenty of time to lurk in your Lerkim when you're studying for the bar exam, but that's three years away. Law school is a full-time job, but that means only that it's your 9-to-5 job. Go to class, do your reading, and then stop. Burnout is among the worst things that can happen in law school. Just because you're in school doesn't mean you need to quit your underwater bowling league. Work-life balance is something you'll need to master (especially once you truly are a Greedy Associate).

5. Plan Ahead.

Your first semester goes by fast. Before you know it, it will be midterms. And then, shortly after that, final exams. If you want an internship after your first year (which is a really good idea), start planning sometime in the fall, looking to apply in the spring when most places start hiring for the summer. Many government agencies do hire 1Ls for internships, but a lot of BigLaw firms don't; they reserve those jobs for 2L summer associates.

Speaking of 2Ls, and 3Ls, and everyone else: What else do 1Ls need to know to make the most of their 1L year? Tell us via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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