Hello, reader. You’ve happened upon “Dear My 1L Self.” Have you heard of this epic library blog series? Wherein law librarians, 2Ls/3Ls, and other intriguing interlocutors engage in anachronistic correspondence w/ their 1L selves? Wherein said correspondence dispenses sage advice that readers would do well to take under advisement? In today’s wise & witty epistle, ReferenceGRA Colin Daniels addresses his 1L self…
Dear 1L Colin,
I’ve got good news and sad news from the future. First the bad. By your 2L year, law school professors acquire technology that enables them to target a live cold call at any student anywhere on earth—Zoom. On the bright side, I can help you get by as a 1L.
Let’s start with suggestions. The Library’s VIP study rooms have outlets and beautiful marble-white whiteboard walls. Fill a study room with reliable people who keep motivate each other. Take notes and stick to a consistent study plan. There’s a lot of information to track over a semester. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Because law school is a marathon, you need to remember you’re a human being with physical limitations. Go through the syllabi at the beginning of the year and stick deadlines into a calendar. Then schedule time well in advance of due dates to work on projects. While you can spend a forty-eight hour period furiously writing a 1L foundations paper, you never want to turn in the first draft of anything you’ve written.
More importantly, you’re going to miss a lot of mistakes if you’re sleep deprived. Just schedule your time instead so you can make slow and steady progress on assignments. Your body and your GPA will thank you.
You’re going to make mistakes. Your biggest is not writing practice exams. Yes, they’re exhausting when many things demand your time. Don’t wait to start writing practice exams until you have a perfect outline (because it’ll never be perfect). Ultimately, 1L Colin, because you don’t take any practice contracts exams, your final exam reads like the next paragraph.
Buy a printer. Take half-days on Friday. Meet other students. It’s not a competition. Watch trashy reality TV occasionally (or frequently). Learn about bird law. Go meet a professor during office hours. Use a watch and a calendar. Get a free lunch (and learn something) at meetings and events. Take a mindfulness seminar. Read the career services emails. Borrow whiteboard markers from the library. Look into GRA positions for experience and a tuition discount. Interviewers care about personality, so don’t forget about the hobbies and interests that make you an interesting person.
Good luck, and don’t worry too much. You can always try for Tik Tok fame.
The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post this 4th installment of “Dear My 1L Self.” In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Law Students, and other interesting folks write actual letters to their 1L selves giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law. We hope that some of this advice will be transferable to our readers, and show that even the most experienced of us have made a lot of mistakes. Today, we’ve got a dispatch from (and to) 3L (and Law Library GRA) Ross Crowell…
Dear My 1L Self,
This is going to sound crazy, but you do not have to be the last person at the Law Library every night. I know you have always been told by everyone your entire life that you can succeed by outworking everyone else, but here that ideology does not work. By mid-December, you will be completely burned out and your brain will barely be able to function. Work hard, but do not make law school the only thing in your life.
While you are studying, do not worry about day-to-day issues. If you cannot figure out a case on a random Tuesday in October, odds are it will have no impact on your grade. If you get called on and are not sure of the answer, it is not the end of the world. Everyone else is in the same boat as you, just trying their best to get by.
Once you start studying for exams, do not just focus on memorizing information, as that will not benefit you on the exam. Get your outlines completed during Thanksgiving break, then spend the next week before finals working on practice problems. Do not just read a problem and casually jot down your thoughts. You need to get in the habit of writing out full answers under a time limit. Once you practice writing out these answers several times, you will have a better feel for timing on the exam.
Additionally, over Thanksgiving break (and the rest of the semester), do not spend a disproportionate amount of your time on Lawyering Foundations. While the class is important, do not waste your entire Thanksgiving break reading over your final memo 100 times. Make time for your other classes as well. Further, do not worry about the abundance of negative feedback you get on your papers; your bosses the next two summers will let you know that your writing is just fine.
Finally, it is important to remember to enjoy life. Watch Sunday Night Football instead of stressing over the case you just read but do not understand. Go for runs and bike rides during the week. Play Xbox and let your brain turn off for an hour or two. Also, eat some salads and do not just heat up frozen pasta dishes when you get home at 8:00 every night; your brain and body will feel much better. I know this goes against everything you have heard in life up to this point, but working harder and longer than everyone does not guarantee you success. Work hard, but do not make school the only focus in your life. It might sound crazy now, but your brain will be fresh and ready to go in December for Finals.