Summer Prep Before Your 1L Year

flickr photo by Aftab Uzzaman

flickr photo by Aftab Uzzaman

By Zach Dalton

It can be a nervous time the summer before your first year of law school.  Many students are having fears of what lies ahead, and some are already having pre-exam jitters.  There are, however, steps you can take to improve your law school experience in the fall.

First, relax and know you are not the only one feeling this way.  Law school is a new experience for everyone, and although some may feel slightly more prepared, it is going to be tough for pretty much all who enter.  Even if you come from an undergrad program in which you did not do large amounts of reading or writing, legal reading and writing is an entirely different animal which very much levels the playing field.

Second, try to resist the temptation to begin accumulating and reviewing study aids.  Without taking any classes, you are likely to frustrate yourself and increase your anxiety already believing you are behind the curve.  If you really must get a study aid prior to the start of fall classes, I would suggest the Emanuel’s Guide for Torts, as it is somewhat simplistic and easy to follow.

Third, consider reading one of the many books available about the law school experience and improving your ability to take law school exams.  The exams you will take in law school are different than any you have taken so far in your educational career, and require a different way of thinking.  I would suggest “Getting to Maybe” by Richard Michael Fischl and Jeremy R. Paul, which is incredibly helpful in conveying the idea that there is typically no one true answer on an exam.

Fourth, read other things that you actually enjoy and find interesting.  It doesn’t really matter what it is, although you can find a list of suggested fun reading from our law school faculty in a previous post on this blog, “Law Faculty Offers Summer Reading Suggestions.”  Getting in the habit of reading every day can be very beneficial to your 1L experience as you don’t have to go from zero to one hundred your first couple of weeks in the fall.

Lastly, and most importantly, enjoy yourself and do things which will add to your life.  The next three years in law school are going to be tough, and some activities you wanted to accomplish are going to have to be pushed aside.  Take this time to be happy, relaxed, and do something cool.  This will help you be prepared for the big push and hard times ahead.

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