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3 things to do during your first 3 weeks of 1L

You’re starting law school in the fall. You’re apprehensive. You know law school is competitive, your classmates are smart, and that success is far from a guarantee. There are so many things you could focus on, but it isn’t at all clear what’s relevant.

On top of that, 1L really is incredibly important. Your grades in 1L weigh heavily on what firm jobs and judicial clerkships will be available to you. They define your chances for things like law review. They can even put you in a position to transfer up to a higher-ranked law school.

Here are some tips for hitting the ground running during your first 3 weeks:

  1. Grasp the fundamental principles of your courses. Your doctrinal courses have overarching themes. Contracts is about determining what promises the state will enforce; Civil Procedure is about society resolving disputes among its members in an orderly fashion. Starting from these bases, the doctrine will quickly start to pile up. If you didn’t have a proper mental map of the floor, it will be impossible to organize all these layers in a coherent manner. You can extend this concept further – what are your professor’s fundamental principles? What are the casebook’s fundamental principles? It’s amazing how much sturdier everything else is when your base is solid.
  2. Don’t fall behind. This is harder than it sounds. But it will be a lot harder if you have to play catchup at the same time. Unfortunately, this philosophy doesn’t come with a lot of shortcuts. Read everything for every class, brief every case, and attend every class and take good notes. Stay organized. Review regularly. (Andrew McClurg’s 1L of A Ride is very helpful on the nuts-and-bolts of preparation.)
  3. Reassess what’s working and what isn’t. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to law school. Are you spending too much time preparing for class, at the expense of review? Have you started doing practice exams so early that you are psyching yourself out? Are you memorizing instead of organizing? Be bold, and be willing to course-correct. I suggest one exception to this rule – do not give up on case-briefing. The rewards from case-briefing are not reaped early, but they are invaluable. 
Looking for more ways to excel during 1L? Check out Peak Law School Prep's workshops. Too many talented, hard-working people underachieve at law school. Top students set themselves apart with strategy. Peak Law School Prep is here to help. 
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