#The3Llife: Five Tips for Internships

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

I’ve loved a lot of the experiences I’ve had in law school from interesting electives to engaging club events.

However, my favorite experience has been my internships. I was fortunate enough to be able to do a handful of placements throughout my time in law school and I found them to be invaluable. For those of you who are considering internships, I wanted to share some tips for making the most out of each opportunity.

Know your limits

First of all, I want to acknowledge how challenging it can be to accept an unpaid internship. I worked part-time in law school and had rent, utilities, etc. that needed to be paid each month. It was certainly a budgeting struggle for me to be an unpaid intern, but the experience was worth the struggle. However, it’s important to know what you can and can’t handle. Be honest with yourself about the amount of time you’ll be able to commit and your other obligations. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Apply anyway

When I applied for my first internship I had just finished the first semester of my 1L year. I was certainly not the most qualified candidate, but I applied anyways, and I got the position. Don’t shy away from applying because you aren’t familiar with the type of law or don’t have the experience you think you need. You have more skills than you think and employers are happy to teach what’s missing.

Be open to new opportunities

An internship I thought I would love ended up being my least favorite, and one that I was on the fence about helped point me down a new career path. If an internship sounds remotely interesting, take a deeper look. Internships are a great way to try out different areas of law and see what you like and what you don’t like. You may be surprised!

Always learn

Unfortunately, not all internships are awesome, but they are all learning experiences. You may learn how to stand up for yourself or how not to be a supervisor when you are an attorney. Either way, you get something out of the internship that you can bring to your next internship and your future job. And if you’re not happy, think about why. If it’s something you think could be fixed, approach your supervisor or talk to a mentor.

Be confident

I get it. Especially at your first internship, you’re nervous. You don’t want to say something wrong or come off the wrong way. It’s okay–everyone makes mistakes and your supervisors know that (they were interns once too). Don’t shy away from asking questions and sharing your opinion.

#The1Llife: 1L Exam Reflection

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way,
1L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Today I’ll be talking about the most dreaded 1L topic …. exams!

Being early January I can officially say I’ve survived my first semester exams, so there’s that. Now while I anxiously await grade disbursement in late January I have the time to reflect on the overall experience… so here it is.

The first word that comes to mind when I reflect on exam month is “EXHAUSTING.” Although I had roughly five plus days between each exam, spending an entire month studying takes a lot out of you. First, your schedule is completely thrown. Instead of waking up and going to class like your body is used to, suddenly you’re spending days on end in the same PJ’s, hardly eating, and staying up late because you’ve convinced yourself those extra two hours of studying will be your saving grace. The second word that comes to mind is “BRUTAL!” After studying for essentially 17 hours a day for a week the time finally comes when you have to actually write your exam. You think you’re prepared and feel slightly confident by that time, right? Hopefully, but nearly everyone I know left the exam feeling roughly ten shades worse than when they’d entered regardless of how confident they felt upon entering.

Even if you typed until your fingers cramped, and felt like you understood the questions, there’s still the understanding that you’re graded on a curve, so no matter how well you did it all comes down to how well the person next to you did… which is heartbreaking. Furthermore, there’s the pressure of how to study “correctly” and the shame that comes along with that. For me, I’ve always favored solo studying, however, many preferred group studying which left me feeling like maybe I was missing out. Then there was the question of flash cards vs. note review, along with the number of practice exams to take.

Now, what did I find actually helped me during this whole process? First off, I personally believe that no matter how much you study, or whether your exam is open book or closed book, you will still leave feeling slightly worse than when you entered. Law school exams are designed (in my mind) to cut you short. Teachers want you to prioritize the larger claims over the smaller ones, but that doesn’t change the fact that when the exams end you’ll be left wondering if the claims you picked were the right ones, or regretting the fact that you couldn’t type that much faster so you could write that one extra claim down. My only advice regarding that is to take practice exams. My first torts practice exam I essentially word vomited on a page, it was unorganized and I missed a lot of claims because I was too busy defining little things. After three more practices, I got used to the time limit, understood better how to read the questions, and just overall had better control over my nerves so in the end, my essay came out coherent, organized, and well distributed between the claims.

The most helpful tool however actually came in the form of the 1L BARBRI Mastery Program videos. To be honest I only used these for Civil Procedure after quickly realizing I knew nothing about the subject, cried, and determined I would just have to teach myself in the five available days. In hindsight I wish I had watched the videos for all my courses, because truly I cannot say it enough – THE BARBRI VIDEOS ARE LIFE-SAVING! If it weren’t for those Civ Pro videos myself, and probably most of the 1L class at Penn would have walked into the exam saying “what is Erie” … “subject matter what?”

To summarize, my main advice is:

(1) take some time to rest or you will burn yourself,

(2) study the way you feel comfortable studying and do not waste time feeling guilty about it,

(3) watch/buy the BARBRI videos because they are really life-changing (and no I am not forced or pay to say that)!