Tips for Tackling Your First Semester of Law School

By Colleen Hampton

The first semester of the 2016-17 school year is underway and the building is buzzing with a special kind of caffeine-induced energy.  It’s the energy that comes with a fresh crop of 1L’s. Welcome to this wild, overwhelming world of legal education. 1L hell, as some call it, can be tricky but it doesn’t have to be the end of life as you know it.

Life in law school is all about balance and GSU COL has helpful resources to assist you in finding the ideal balance. Here are some helpful tips from those who survived 1L hell:

  1. Do your reading. Being prepared is a pretty big deal in law school (okay, it’s the biggest deal).  I wish I had a sassy quip to make light of this one but, no. It’s simply unprofessional to show up to class without having done the reading.  Read your cases.
  2. Start outlining earlier. You don’t have to know how the black letter law fits together in order to outline. Use your syllabus or table of contents in your book to begin. Both should have a useful framework in which you can insert your notes. This will help tremendously when November rolls around and exams are looming over you.
  3. Attend the Academic Success lectures. This law school stuff is new to you and that’s okay. The Academic Success Program includes a series of lectures covering subjects from ‘study groups’ to ‘exam strategies’ and everything in between. You can find the schedule for the Academic Success lectures on inside law.
  4. Take care of yourself. This is an absolute must. You are working hard to develop the discipline necessary to hack it in law school but don’t forget to recharge your batteries (yes, even if it means you take a break from reading). The Mindfulness in Law Society offers advantage of the Mindfulness Wednesdays beginning in September as well as Yoga classes on Wednesday morning (beginning September 20th from 7:20-8:20) and Tuesday afternoon (beginning September 21st from 4:30-5:30).  Contact the President of the Mindfulness in Law Society, for more information.
  5. Find a study group. Studying with others is important for a lot of students. Finding the right group may take time and that’s okay. When you found your study group start meeting sooner than you think necessary. Use your time to run over questions you have from the reading or discuss hypos from one of the study aids in the library. Working together early (before the exam crunch) will help you find the group that works best for you and give you a solid foundation when the panic of exams sets in.

Ultimately, there is no ‘right’ way to law school. Everybody learns differently and has different needs. If you are neck deep in your first semester of law school it can feel pretty overwhelming but do not despair. Try your hand at some of these suggestions, we hope they are helpful. Know that law school is survivable. You can do this.

Survived 1L hell? What worked for you? Share you tips and tricks with the incoming class.




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