Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Preparing for Law School, or for 2L Year

Amy's wonderful post on end-of-semester grades and probation students brings me to the next stage...preparing for law school if you have been admitted, or preparing for 2L year.  After the critical low-grades meetings are more-or-less over, ASP starts to see emails and receive telephone calls from newly admitted, soon-to-be JD students. We also start to see a trickle of emails from students who survived, and maybe thrived, their first-year, but want to improve.  The main piece of advice I have for both sets of students...enjoy the summer. The best thing you can do for yourself is relax, regroup, and repair. Preparation for the fall begins with taking care of yourself.  Critical things, like reading books for fun, playing and watching sports, and catching up with family, fall by the wayside during the school year. And these things are critical; they make you a fun, interesting person. I know law students won't hear me when I say that they best preparation for law school is to take care of yourself, so I will give you practical reasons to  enjoy the summer. For 2L's, fun reading and family events give you something to chat about with recruiters during OCI.  And yes, recruiters want to know you are a well-rounded person who will not only work hard, but be pleasant and interesting to work with during summer 2010.  For soon-to-be 1L's, these things give you something to talk about with classmates during orientation.  Future 1L's, you don't know how many times you will be asked what you did during the summer, what makes you interesting, or something you would like to share about yourself during orientation.  Law students, being competitive by nature, like to be interesting.  So be interesting and memorable by doing nothing but fun stuff for the whole summer; you will see shock, awe, and smiles from your classmates come fall.  And then you can continue your campaign of shock and awe by having the stamina to work your tail off all semester, because you repaired yourself over the summer. 

Fun reading advice...fun reading is NOT the how-to-succeed books written by bitter former law students who write anonymously or under pseudonyms. The hay is in the barn, as they say, and angry missives telling you that law school is awful aren't going to help you.  Fun reading is Jennifer Weiner, Jane Austen, Mitch Albom, Scott Turow (yes, including  One L),and Harlan Coban.  If you must pick up a book for law school, pick up an encouraging one. Pick it up with this advice; you won't remember most of what they tell you to do by the start of school.  2L's, your brain is fried, so most advice will go in your eyes but not sink in. Unless you are on probation and there are some critical skills missing, you are best not reading about outlining, reading, or exam prep.  1L's, you are going to be bombarded with information, and it's best to give your brain breathing room, not crowd it with more advice. 

Am I being intentionally silly? Yes. Am I also telling the truth? Yes.  Academic success is more than just grades; it's a complete, healthy life before, during, and after the law school experience. (RCF)

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