Appellate Advocacy Blog

Editor: Tessa L. Dysart
The University of Arizona
James E. Rogers College of Law

Monday, August 15, 2022

Advice to 1Ls--Part II

Last week I posted some advice to 1L law students. Adam has posted some advice too. When I wrote my initial post, I wanted to include more items, but the demands of life (sick kids and a book deadline) cut down on my blogging time.  Today I would like to finish up my post.

#6—Don't make enemies on campus (or make only friends on campus). Look, I get it, you will not be BFFs with every other student in your class. That is fine. But, what you don't want to do is make enemies. Your classmates will be your professional colleagues after law school. Many of them will remember you as you were in law school. So, if you are a jerk, they will remember you as a jerk. This will impact how they treat you in cases that you have together or opposite each other. Further, you will find that a decade or two out of law school, some of your classmates assume pretty important positions. (I have classmates who are federal and state judges, one governor, several folks who have served in important state roles, and partners at major law firms.) You never know where your classmates will end up. Keeping your relationships with classmates and faculty civil will help you a lot in the long run.

#7—Keep at least one hobby in law school. It is easy to forget who you are as a person while you are a law student. You could do you class reading 5 times and still not fully understand it. You should devote a large part of your day to law school, but don't forget who you are as a person. For example, I love to walk. As a law student I would do these epic walks around Cambridge and Boston some weekends. It was a great chance for me to clear my head. I also used this time (and time in the gym) to listen to audio books. I have always loved reading, but as a law student I had a hard time picking up a paper copy of a fiction book (since I already did so much reading). That is what worked for me, for others it might be music, dancing, running, knitting, or gaming. Whatever it is, keep one hobby (even if you might have to scale it back just a bit). In addition to whatever hobby you keep, get regular exercise. Getting regular exercise will help both your physical and mental health. Other than my random long walks, I didn’t get much exercise until my 2L and 3L year. I regret not starting sooner.

#8—Live like a student. Try to avoid taking out a lot of debt as a law student. This means when you are a student, you might need to forgo the newest laptop and cellphone and cut back on your streaming subscriptions. Less debt offers more employment opportunities. I tried hard to minimize my debt, which allowed me to work in some interesting government jobs out of law school. And while I think that minimizing debt is good, I would be careful about working your 1L year. I know that some students must work, but if you can just focus on law school your first year, I recommend doing that.  

#9—Try out different areas of the law. Even if you think you know what you want to do with your legal career, you might be surprised to find out that you either (1) don’t like that line of work, or (2) find another line of work more interesting. I like to tell students that you get two summer experiences to try out areas of the law. Most law schools also offer internships and externships during the school year (although usually not as a 1L). These experiences will help you decide what to do with your legal education.

#10—Last, but not least, be sure to spell judgment correctly. This one is a bit of a freebie, but if you need convincing, see this article.

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