5 Truths to Help You Survive 1L (That You Might Not Know About)

By Betty Wang, JD on August 22, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Are you really ready for your 1L year of law school? Otherwise known as "1-Hell," the first year of law school is usually... an experience, to say the least. Being prepared always makes a world of difference. The more you know, the less you'll be unpleasantly surprised, and maybe the smoother the ride. Maybe.

While it's true that everyone handles certain situations differently, the first year of law school tends to bring some of the same experiences and feelings for most.

So, with that said, here are five points about a typical first year of law school that all 1Ls may want to consider:

  1. Finding a mentor may save your life. Not to sound dramatic or anything, but mentors can really pay off. Sign up for a mentorship program if your school has one, and take advantage of it. The nice thing about entering the legal sector is that you'll likely always be able to find someone to help you. Whether it be another 2L, a 3L, or even an attorney you meet at a networking event, most people are surprisingly willing to offer some guidance, mostly because they remember all too well what their own 1L year was like.
  2. Finals. Are. Everything. OK, so this isn't really a tip, it's just a fact. It's best to be prepared for the very particular style of law school finals that most schools employ. There's rarely any homework, pop quizzes (unless you count cold-calling), or midterms. Rather, your grade for a class will be entirely based on the final at the very end. Knowing particular styles (such as IRAC) and learning how to retain information and make a good outline are crucial skills for success.
  3. Remind yourself why you went to law school. Do this over and over. This will keep you motivated. Many make the mistake of "flirting" with law school, when you should really be in bed with it. It's better to know now if you really made the right call. If your reasons are still valid, even after being handed a new one from your Property professor and wanting to curl up into the fetal position, then chin up, and keep on keeping on.
  4. Don't be that person. Law school is like high school. There are sometimes lockers, there's a prom, and you're likely to end up dating a classmate, or at least be rumored to be at some point. The point is, people will talk and gossip despite being self-proclaimed adults. Your reputation might also follow you well into your career, which is both annoying and unfair, but unfortunately it's the reality of the situation.
  5. Find an outlet. It's crucial that you maintain self-care and balance your life with normal, regular-people things like hobbies, working out, or, you know, not thinking about law school 24/7. This will help maintain your sanity, keep you happier, and is also useful practice once you become a licensed attorney.

Good luck, and remember: Your 1L year is only temporary. Soon, you'll be an overworked 2L in no time.

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