The struggle of back-to-class after summer-long work


[ Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona ]

As I talk to my fellow 2Ls, the biggest struggle right now (besides the job hunt) is moving back into “study mode” after working all summer long. It can be a difficult transition. Especially when there seems to be such a focus at the beginning of the semester on OCIs and our 2L summer jobs.

Here are some tips to help make the transition back into the classroom a little easier:

Pick up new school supplies

No matter how many times you’ve had a “first day of school”, for me there is always something great about buying new school supplies to get back into the mood for school. Think about what made you successful last year. What changes do you need to make? Grab some school supplies to help you reach your goals. I personally love taking notes in different colors. I learned last year that I actually remember what I need to learn more effectively if I handwrite it versus typing it. So when I found myself dragging the first week of school, I decided to go buy a colorful pen set and dedicated notebooks for each class. This made my second week of school so much better. I also reorganized my backpack using my Ipsy bags (pens in one, computer cord and mouse in another). This has already made my semester way more organized.

Reflect on 1L year

Maybe you had a great 1L year. Maybe you struggled a bit. No matter how you felt you did, take time to reflect on your successful classroom habits and where you need to improve. Doing this sooner than later can help you get return to your positive study and classroom habits and maybe help you avoid some pitfalls. For me, this means more studying at home instead of in the law library.

Use your summer experience

This past summer, most of us 2L students worked in the legal field for the very first time. I spent my summer with the trial division of a government agency and it confirmed my desire to be a litigator. This led me to change up my schedule some this semester. I am taking classes that are focused on interviewing, pre-trial litigation and more. Use what you did this summer to help you refine your class schedule now that you have some legal experience. Perhaps you loved what you did, maybe you didn’t. One of my friends was going to take a course load full of business law. They have since changed to a family law focus. Tailoring your classes will likely make you more engaged in the classroom. Even more importantly, it will help you hone the skills you will need for your future career.

Consider pro bono work

If you really enjoyed what you did this summer, and are missing it, see if you can add a clinic, externship or fulfill your school’s pro bono requirement by using your new-found talents. A 3L student told me the hardest part of starting 2L year was feeling like they “regressed” from being a productive, contributing member of the law community back into being just a law student. Pro bono work helped bridge that gap between their professional and academic careers.

If you want to know how internships, clerkships and clinics can positively impact your career goals, click here.

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