I do not recommend law school for many people, but if you have made the decision to go, and are sticking to it, here are a few things to expect.
The first day of law school, like the first day of any long journey, is exciting and scary. Orientation will probably be the beginning step, where the professors and dean will give speeches about how special you are for being there. If you have gotten into law school, you are special. Specially sado-masochistic. But anyway…
After orientation, you will have the chance to mingle and meet people. Choose your friends carefully, because you very well might be stuck with them for the next three years. Then again, they might dump you for getting a C in Torts.
The syllabi will come out days before it is time for classes to start. Law school is not like undergraduate or even regular graduate school. In those programs, you show up on the first day with nothing done, you receive the syllabus, and you talk about what is in store for the semester. Not so in law school. In law school, you are expected to show up having read and completed the first assignment. If you haven’t done this, the professor may call on you and embarrass you in front of the class. If this happens, be sure to sit in a totally different part of the room next class, so nobody realizes it was you who was loser enough not to do the first assignment on time.
Each evening, when you get home from school, you have a very important task. You must do your reading assignments and take organized notes, called “outlines,” on your computer. Outlines are simply summaries of the readings and case law from your textbooks. Then, after the class in which you have discussed each reading assignment, you must go back to your outline, and add in notes from the professor’s lectures. These outlines will be what allow you to study and pass the exams at the end of the semester. Don’t put them off, because in order to really understand the case law, you have to study it as you go.
There are tons of events and clubs going on at law school, and you may be tempted to join some of them. Other than Law Review, I would not recommend joining many of these clubs. In law school, time is your most important asset, and at the end of the semester, when you are looking for a summer job, employers are going to look at your GPA. They are not going to be impressed by your membership in the Law Student Music Club.
Soon after the semester is underway, you should start looking into summer jobs. Summer jobs are your first step into the world of getting a real law job at a high paying firm. Start talking to professors and networking with alumni. Your goal should be getting your foot in the door for the summer. If you are unfortunately serious about law, whatever you do, do not waste your summer doing something fun like traveling or working at the beach. This will not look good for you later.
As your first semester of law school winds to an end, it will be time for Law Review “write-ons,” or try-outs. After getting high grades, the Law Review is the single most important thing you can do in law school. Make it a point to do your best. You may want to take some time before your exams even start to begin preparing for the write-on. Talk to some Law Review members, make friends, and get some candid advice from them.
These are some of the many things I wish someone had taken the time to share with me before I had started law school. Good luck, and remember, it’s your funeral!