6 Tricks & Tips to Surviving 1L

By Neetal Parekh on August 21, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Welcome to law school. You've made it through orientation, and now all that's left is surviving the year that gives law school a bad name.

Here are some sought-after tricks and tips to see you through first year, simply known as 1L.

Advice for 1L's:

1. Experiment with study techniques.  You will soon see that studying in law school is different than the studying you did (or meant to do) in undergrad.  And just like snowflakes, no two law students or law school subjects are the same.  Be ready to try out different study techniques and observe what works best for each subject.  Property law will get conceptual and if the theories leave you in the trees, it may be useful to form a study group to work through problems together.  You might find that Torts just requires a little extra memorization tlc and is something that works well with flash cards.  Contracts is a subject in which practice makes, well, a little better anyway.  You may want to practice with past exams by your professor so you know whether she is a UCC scholar or whether Common Law more her thing.

2. Don't worry too much about how others answer questions in class.  Hearing your last name preceded by a "Ms." or "Mr." is enough to make any law student suffer from sweaty palms and a pacing heartbeat, and when your classmates begin being called on you may find yourself lost in the Socratic haze.  The way you answer a question in front of the whole class doesn't reflect on you as a student of the law.  In fact, you may notice reverse trends between grades and stellar diatribes.  Either way, when you get called take a deep breath, and just focus on getting through the question.  And if your answer was marked by long awkward silences, a dash for the bathroom, or a Con Law answer to a Civ Pro question...shake it off, and move on.

3. Be careful about getting wrapped up in 'law school high'.  By the end of orientation you may realize that you know more of your classmates by first and last name in law school than you may even have been able to recognize in some of your large undergrad classes.  And somewhere in the middle of the first term you may notice that law school suddenly feels a little like high school with important consideration to 'who started sitting next to who' in Legal Writing and 'oh no she didn't' say that in Crim Law.  And though the small and familiar feel of law school may lend itself high school parallels, you thankfully, are no longer in high school.  So when in doubt, just remember that.

5. Law school supplements are not like steroids, you are encouraged to use them to understand the material.  If carrying 70 pounds of textbooks wasn't enough, you will start spotting your fellow students carting around popular supplement titles such as "Examples & Explanations" and the "Nutshell" series.  Try them out in groups or on your own and see if they help you understand the concepts better.  Don't be afraid to use them.  As far as we know you won't get randomly tested...and if you do, at least you'll be prepared.

6. It's okay to be a passive member, and free lunch never tasted so good.  Leaving behind your relatively-carefree undergrad or work life for long hours in the law school library is not easy.  And neither is taking a passive role in campus clubs and organizations.  Don't worry, you have 2L and 3L to make your mark or start the Law School Tap Dance Association you always wanted to...but this year it is a-okay to just attend sporadic lunchtime meetings, preferably if lunch is provided. 

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