Don't Start 2L Without Knowing This...

By Neetal Parekh on August 25, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Dorthy realized she wasn't in Kansas, and you might be waking up to the fact that you're not a 1L anymore.  The anticipation, the hype, fear of the unknown...yeah, you're kind of over that now.  So, what does this new 2L Pandora's box have in store for you?  Don't start the year without recalibrating for the extra L.

  • 1L summer: crystal ball or passing fad?

Whether you studied abroad, clerked for a judge, interned at the DA or PD's office, did the summer associate thing, took summer classes, or played Warcraft for 9 hours a day, chances are it was the first time stepping out of the legal lecture hall and into a real-world setting as an bona fide apprentice of the subject.  You introduced yourself as having completed your first year of law school and you got a chance to see and feel the reaction from practitioners in the field as well as from the non-legalese-speaking professionals and public.  

So, what did you think?   1L summer is that sweet spot before you are expected to take over the helm and start steering your law school journey along some coherent, self-directed course. 

Before the summer becomes as stale as yesterday's tweets, take a moment to jot down what you liked, what you didn't like, and what you want to experience more of.  You may be surprised in reflecting even a few years out of law school, that you actually had an intuition of what direction you were going, even as a new 2L--fresh off the 1L boat.

  • In the elective course buffet, be a picky eater.  

By now you may have an idea about your law school learning style.  Do you learn best sitting in the front row waving your hand when you feel a question coming on, or do you like to slide into a back row spot 10 seconds before class starts and play Solitaire while pondering the rules of Crim Pro.  You may have found that old habits die hard and you still work best under the gun, so while the girl ahead of you is answering questions about a case you're still scanning WestLaw or FindLaw case summaries to finish up your briefs, in case the spotlight shines on you next.

Whatever your learning style is, be sure to choose courses that will let you shine.   This could be a big year for grades so you want to put yourself in the best position to excel.  Ask around about professors to see if their teaching style cramps or complements the way you learn.

And, be picky about what courses you take.  You may choose to take a calculated risk in enrolling in a course that won't score you a GPA boost, but which covers a subject you want to explore.  Often, when applying for internships or jobs, it is easier to distinguish yourself from the pack by showing that you were in engaged in courses, activities, and organizations of a particular line of interest.  It helps to 'build a story' of your commitment to that aspect of the law.

With elective courses you will have a broad range of options available, and being picky can be a good thing.

  • Round out the experience.

If you were buried somewhere between a Restatement and a course outline last year, this year try to balance studying with extracurriculars, research with a professor, or even part-time work.  You may find that you are actually more productive with a little balance and that opportunities to research, write, compete, or get published are great ways to stay motivated and collaborate with members of the legal community.   And though the first few weeks of 2L may be early to start planning for the summer, the year will go fast so be ready to dust off that resume and cover letter. 

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