#DearFindLaw: Law School Midterms; Your Virtual Shingle

By Mark Wilson, Esq. on September 29, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

#DearFindLaw - Advice for New Lawyers and Law Students from @FindLawLP

One issue that keeps coming up is the subject of midterms. Typically, it's been the case that law school classes -- particularly doctrinal 1L classes -- centered around a single final exam at the end of the semester.

This is unfair for a couple of reasons: basing an entire semester's performance on a single test on a single day, as well as the fact that 1Ls have never taken a "law school exam" before (though I'm sure Matt McGorry's character on "How to Get Away with Murder" -- you know, the one who "interned for Chief Justice Roberts" the summer before law school? -- has taken multiple practice exams already).

How to Prepare for Midterms

Preparing for a midterm is just like preparing for the law school final exam. Make your outlines and take past exams prepared by the same professor. If it's going to be a closed-book exam, memorize your outline by breaking it up into discrete chunks of material. If it's open book, make sure your outline is well structured and complete. Your casebook will be of little or no help to you (if indeed it ever was).

Above all, relax -- especially if the midterms are ungraded. Midterms are much less about scoring your performance in the class than they are about helping you get a feel for a law school exam. At some schools, they're voluntary; if so, do yourself a favor and voluntarily try out the exam so that you know where you stand before you take the test that counts.

Your Virtual Shingle

Bar-takers, while you're waiting for your results, you might be wondering, "What will I do once I get my results?" Well, if you pass, the answer is "get licensed," but after that, you need a job. The market is still tough and you might be thinking about opening your own "virtual office."

If you are -- and I can't emphasize that you'll only be doing this after you take that oath -- there are some things to consider. You'll probably want to rent an office-share meeting space, as your home office is ill-suited to meeting clients (who probably won't be terribly impressed, either). If you rent a meeting space or decide to go for an office-share, consider that your space needs to be easily accessible by public transportation, or if it's not, that it's got some good parking. Look for a place where you can ensure client confidentiality, which means a cube or an office and a closed conference room, not tech-startup "open plan" offices.

Finally, look into spending the money on a real email address and domain name, both of which are cheap these days. Clients are savvy enough to know that "lawguy45@gmail.com" isn't terribly professional. (You could even hold out for one of those fancy new top-level domains, like .esq.)

Law students and recent grads, send us your questions! Write to us via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals) using the hashtag #DearFindLaw.

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