Don’t Have A Summer Job? It’s Time To Get Resourceful And Here’s How

By Chris Nikitas, Esq., BARBRI Director of Legal Education

Alright, you don’t have a summer job. It’s stressful. Whether you’re a 1L or 2L student, this is a rather scary position to be in, honestly. First thing’s first … “don’t panic.” Especially in your first year of law school. Not having a legal job during the summer isn’t an end-of-the-world scenario. I hosted bar exam trivia during my 1L summer. A prominent scholar I know taught tennis lessons. The fact is, you can make up for not having a summer job in a number of ways and here are a few ideas.

DON’T THROW IN THE TOWEL

When final exams wrap up and you still don’t have a job, do not give up. Get out there. Go to legal aid societies, public interest firms and non-profit organizations to start handing out resumes. Don’t be shy. Pass them out, whenever and to whomever you can, like they’re flyers for a local band. Even if you get an opportunity, you may be getting a late start, but you’ll still get to add a valuable line to your resume. That’s all that matters. Even if nothing comes of it, you’ll have your name circulated and show potential employers that you’re determined and driven.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NETWORKING EVENTS

One of the biggest benefits of a summer job is the networking opportunities; however, you can still network outside of a summer job. There will be networking events all summer for young lawyers and law students. Do some investigating, find a few to attend and start slinging around business cards like they’re candy. You’ll be surprised how quickly these networking moments (and just handing over a business card) can turn into possible employment leads in the future.

MAKE UP FOR IT DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR

Your school has opportunities to provide you with experience during the year: Field placements, internships and externships. Talk with your career services office to find out what they can offer you as far as placement help. You’ll get some course credit at the same time, too. Consider taking a litigation or drafting class for some realistic experience that you can add to your cover letter and resume.

SPEAK WITH YOUR PROFESSORS

One of your professors may still need research assistants or may introduce you to someone who would like some summer help. Your professors might even have more sage advice on how to find that elusive summer job.

Above all else, remember, this is not by any means the end of your law school career. Part of my 1L summer, I worked for career services during On Campus Interviews, serving as a runner between the interview rooms. I ate lunch with the attorneys and spoke with them more each day than anyone they interviewed. As a result, I left that week with a stack of business cards that turned into valuable new contacts. I was able to utilize them in the coming years. Just keep at it!

Spring Finals Coming In Hot: Useful Lessons Learned From Last Time

The spring semester of your first year is flying by incredibly fast. You’re at a point now when another set of final exams are on the radar, approaching rapidly. What you need to do is take the time to pick your own brain: latch onto those study habits and tips that worked best for you from the first go-round of finals back in the fall semester.

With that in mind, here are a few of the things you may have learned already on you own and other recommendations as you prep for May.

Look To Those Who Have Outlined Before You

For most law students, the process of outlining is not all that fun. Usually because most wear out their keyboards and highlighters, ending up with way too many pages. It’s hard to scale back, especially when everything seems important enough not to leave out. This typically happens when you start from scratch, so don’t. Instead, try to get your hands on a course outline from an upperclassman. (Remember, the answer is always no if you don’t ask. What have you got to lose?) It will provide guidance on what to put in your own outline. Also, it can help clear up substantive confusion and fill any gaps in the material. Remember, too, if you have access to BARBRI 1L Mastery outlines, those are a great resource of prepared outlines vetted by experienced subject matter experts.

Use Old Final Exams: The Past Is the Key To The Future

Check to see if your law school has copies of old final exams on file. If they do, use them. Sure, professors may toss a change-up any given semester on what they’ll cover or how they present questions. Yet, spending time with the old exams can help you get familiar, or even spot patterns, with their techniques. It will also test your knowledge of subjects while you are studying. Bring your practice answers to a professor or T.A. for feedback and guidance. Should your school not have old exams available, look to supplements. Many have problems in them. BARBRI 1L Mastery’s online practice questions are a convenient alternative to lugging around a book and provide answers immediately.

Start Early, Start Early, Start Early

That’s not a typo. You’ll come across this advice often. You’ll make a mental note several times throughout the year. Best intentions and all. Start studying “yesterday.” You really don’t want to cram for a final exam. The risk is too great. First year law school grades are too important. Sounds like a no-brainer; however, starting early with your finals prep is definitely easier said than done. Here’s what you can do about it: Create a study schedule or some other type of plan that works for you. Be honest with how you organize your time. Be disciplined in following through. And be sure to build in activities that aren’t spelled s-t-u-d-y … go work out, watch some t.v., hang with friends.

Keep your sanity … stay on top of studying … and you’ll Own 1L Finals!

The Path to 1L: Dos and Don’ts for 0Ls

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona

Right now, I am on spring break at home reading, outlining, spring cleaning and trying to catch up with non-law school friends. What a difference a year makes! Last year, I spent March traveling to admitted students weekends. My journeys took me to New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Tuscaloosa, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Tucson. I remember trying to make my final decision about where I wanted to attend school and was looking for tips to help me prepare everywhere. Since most 1Ls are on Spring Break, this blog is for you 0Ls. Here are some Dos and Don’ts to help you prepare for your 1L.

If you are still deciding on a law school:

Don’t take school rankings too seriously

As many of you know, the US News 2020 Law School ranking has been released. My advice — do not base your decision on school ranking alone. I was SHOCKED to get feedback that one of the top schools I was considering going to wouldn’t have much pull in the state I decided to practice when I spoke to local attorneys and judges. They advised me that unless I was going HSY (or should I say YSH), I should go to a school in the market I wanted to practice. This was a wake-up call and ended up being a deciding factor for me.

Do visit every school you are seriously considering.

A school I thought I would love I hated, and a school I thought I would hate, was a near perfect fit. You never know until you visit. Remember that most schools offer a travel allowance to attend admitted students day, so be sure to inquire about this. Try to stay an extra day to get a “real” feel for the school and talk to students. I would ask current students “What is one thing you wish you knew before starting at this school.” Their feedback helped me get a good feel for the program, learn more about the surrounding area, and see if the school was a “good” fit.

If you’ve already decided on a school:

Don’t forget about overlooked law school expenses.

No surprise, law school is expensive. Even if you received a full-tuition scholarship, be prepared for extra expenses. You might still be responsible for school fees which could be $1,000 or more each semester. Law School books can range from $1200 a semester if you want to buy new, or your books can be as cheap as $200 for a semester if you decide to rent them (like I do). Being prepared for these extra expenses greatly helped me adjust my budget.

Do apply for additional scholarships.

Check your law school for any specific scholarships that might be offered that require an additional application. You will also want to look at your undergrad scholarship website for smaller scholarships and fellowships. You can often sort by “law,” and you’ll find many law firms offering scholarships valued at $200-$1000 or more. Also, do not forget to apply for more significant scholarships like the One Lawyer Can Change the World Scholarship offered by BARBRI for incoming 1Ls.

Scholarship

Get Ready for School:

Don’t freak out…

First, congratulations! You are going to law school! Nervous? Excited? Slowly freaking out? STOP! It will be ok! Enjoy your own spring break this semester, travel and relax over your summer break. It will be the last time you really have any downtime for a while, and you want to walk into law school refreshed!

Do spend some time preparing

While this topic is highly debated, I believe you should relax AND prep for law school.  I spent my summer relaxing and getting into the right frame of mind for school which included attending a BARBRI Law Preview session in Chicago and reading “1L of a Ride.” For my  Law Preview Course, I chose the 6-day program, which included a legal writing and research day.

For me, Law Preview was the final step in confirming that law school was the right path for me. The intensive program introduced me to basic concepts of each of the core 1L courses plus taught me how to brief a case, create a study schedule and how to do legal research. This was invaluable for my first semester, as it allowed me to start school feeling confident. If you are interested in attending a Law Preview class, be sure to apply for a Law Preview scholarship!

If you’d like to learn more about my Law Preview experience or how I decided on a law school reach me @The1LLife on Twitter or Instagram.

Finding Balance in the Chaos: Surviving Second Semester of 1L

Second Semester

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona

Each week when I share my blogs for BARBRI I ask for advice on what the next article should be on Twitter and Instagram @The1LLife. One topic has become increasingly requested, and this is how to handle the stress of the second semester of 1L.

I get it, and I think this is the crucial thing, so does EVERY OTHER 1L! You are NOT alone! This semester we are handling the aftermath (or delight) of our 1L grades, our legal writing class is more challenging, plus you are also likely taking an extra class which means an additional 100 pages of reading a week plus extra assignments. Oh, and by the way, we are also looking for jobs. This list doesn’t even consider the outside obligations we have to family, friends, pets, and others. Plus, as you might have discovered this week, you also have to pick your classes for next semester in the next 20 days! WHEW! It is a lot and can be overwhelming. The big thing to remember here is how we handle stress is very individualized. Here are my three tips for finding balance in the chaos of second semester of 1L. I hope one of these works for you.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.

Your experience is unique, so please stop comparing yourself to your classmates. I know this may feel impossible when we are literally competing with each other in our classes but take a step back and try to see the bigger picture. If you are focusing on what others are or are not achieving you are just wasting energy, that you could be using on yourself. Make small achievement goals and focus on those.  Take account of everything you have accomplished so far. You’re amazing!

Use Your Community Resources.

As I said, every 1L is experiencing the stress of the second semester. Everyone handles stress differently; the key here is to be honest with how you are doing. If you are feeling overwhelmed, do not be afraid to connect with student resources at your school. You might find support through a law school club, an administrative office within the law school, or if there is not a resource within the law school, don’t be afraid to look at campus resources. It is so easy to forget that your law school is just a single college on your campus and that the clubs, counseling services, campus events on “main” campus are also available to us. It is very easy to feel isolated in law school, but I guarantee there is a gigantic community of support and activities that surround you. Use them! Finally, do not forget your legal community. If you have joined your local ABA as a student member, explore the resources they have available to you. You are surrounded by people that want to help; you just need to take on the difficult task of asking for it.

Create an Action Plan

For me, knowledge is power. I know it might be easier to just to ignore everything but take the time to create a plan to try to make sense of the chaos. Journaling what is going on can be a great way to get your thoughts out of your head and on to paper. Write down everything that is currently overwhelming you or simply on your mind. This might seem scary or to some trivial, but writing it down lets you see what you’re up against. Once you have written it down acknowledge the issues and then make a plan to tackle it. Worried about your job search? Create an action plan that includes tasks like going to the career office and asking a professor for help. Have you fallen behind in your classes? Talk to your classmates about creating a study group, go to the writing center, or ask a 2L for help, and look at the office hours for your professors and commit to going see each one you need to for additional support. For whatever it is take control by creating a plan of attack.

Have other suggestions for managing the Chaos? Let me know over at the @The1LLife on Twitter and Instagram.

The Art of Networking Law School Style

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona

The legal community is much smaller than any of us realize and who you know can help build your reputation and reveal future opportunities.  But how do you make these connections and create new relationships? Networking of course.

Networking does not have to be scary or overwhelming. In fact, in many cases it can be as simple as sending an email, speaking to a professional after they have spoken at your school or talking with a Professor. Sure, we still need to attend large events and mixers for traditional networking but do not miss out on the small opportunities either. Here are 4 tips to help you become a networking pro.

Make the First Move

The first step to networking is to make the first move. If your law school is anything like mine, throughout the week you will have speakers at lunchtime. Start small and take the time to thank them after their presentation and introduce yourself. This might seem like a meaningless task, but if talking to new people makes you nervous this is a great time to practice. If you are comfortable talking to new people, this is a great time to use your elevator speech.

Refine Your “Elevator” Speech

By now I am sure you’ve heard people talk about the importance of an elevator speech. If not, an elevator speech is an introduction to promote yourself in a short amount of time, usually about 30 seconds. Your elevator speech will evolve as you gain more legal experience, but for now, think about the attributes that set you apart from other students. It could be your grades, clinics, work experience, or previous educational experience like an IP degree. You want to make your speech brief, but memorable.

Do your Research

If you have a guest speaker or know you will be attending a tabling event, research the people or organization you want to meet. For example, yesterday after one of the events at my school I stayed behind for the Q&A specifically because I wanted to connect with one of the Judges. I saw in his bio that he had spent a great deal of his career at an agency that I have an interview with this week. I introduced myself and asked if he had any advice for interviewing with this agency. He remarked, “Wow, I spent most of my career there. How did you know?” I explained I had read it on the bio that had come with the case facts.

He then spent about 5 minutes discussing his career, the importance of the work he did, and how important it was that he made a personal connection with someone there, as they helped him secure his position directly out of law school. As we walked away, he asked for my name again and wished me good luck on my interview. This was a simple networking connection that provided me with valuable information. Which leads me to the final tip.

Use What You Learn.

If you think about networking like it is a fact-finding mission it can provide you with both purpose and focus. At a networking event give yourself goals to accomplish. For example, I am going to speak to at least 3 new people, that can help me learn about employment law. Then use the information you learn. For example, through my networking experience yesterday, I feel like I have a greater understanding of the agency and I will use this information during my interview.

What are some great networking tips that you have learned? Let me know over on Twitter and Instagram @The1LLife.

Spring Break Destinations

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona

As we submit our memo drafts, attend OCI interviews and try to stay afloat with our extra classes, it is easy to forget that Spring Break is just around the corner. Look no further than your favorite 1L class for travel inspiration.

Pick your favorite 1L course to discover your spring break destination!

Torts

If you enjoyed torts, travel to Phoenix, Arizona for the Cactus league or Tampa, Florida for the Grapefruit league. Both destinations will keep you warm and let you work on your tan this Spring Break. Just be aware of those warnings from torts class and keep a look out for flying hot dogs and bats! If you are not a baseball fan, consider a trip to your favorite amusement park or take a cross country railroad journey. Just be prepared for falling packages!

Property

If property is your favorite class, you are going to New York. That’s right folks, one of the cases we have all read, Pierson v. Post, took place in the “wasteland” that is modernly known as the Hamptons. Treat yourself and indulge in the lavish lifestyle for the week. Alternatively, if you are looking for something a bit more adventurous, check out properties for rent in Costa Rica or Hawaii!

Constitutional Law

Philadelphia awaits! Sure, it may not be your typical Spring Break destination, but you are not the typical spring breaker. Surround yourself with history with visits to Constitutional Hall and the Liberty Bell. Run up the “Rocky” stairs, and decide if Pat’s or Geno’s wins the war when it comes to Philly cheese steaks.

Criminal Procedure or Criminal Law

Some schools teach criminal procedure as a 1L course; others have criminal law. No matter which subject you have, if this is your favorite class, your spring break destination is San Francisco! Of course, you should visit Alcatraz and experience all of the other fabulous sites this great city has to offer. Plus, you 100% deserve a trip to wine country, too.

Contract Law

Sign on the dotted line and book yourself a cruise to the Bahamas. You’ll be surrounded by contracts, at every turn and activity on a cruise, but you are well prepared for all of that fine print! When I posed this question to my professor, he mentioned the contracts related to space tourism would be fascinating, but I think that trip might have to wait until after graduation.

Civil Procedure

Good ole common law. If you’re looking for an international getaway, Hong Kong, England, New Zealand, and Australia (just to name a few) all follow common law and would be exciting spring break destinations. If you’d like to stay stateside, consider Washington D.C., visit the Supreme Court and more. As a bonus, if your spring break is in late March or early April, you will be able to experience the Cherry Blossom festival.

What other destinations pair up nicely with our 1L classes? Let me know on Twitter or Instagram @The1LLife.

5 Tips to Thrive During 1L OCI

1L OCI

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona

1L OCI season is upon us. This may be the first time you are going to a professional interview. Even if you are a seasoned interview pro, the OCI interview process is different. While other job interviews might ask you to discuss your job history, qualifications, and your strengths and weaknesses, this may not happen at 1L OCI. In fact, you might spend your precious 20 minutes discussing your motivation for coming to law school and exciting things from your hobbies list.

Remember this is not your only interview, just a screening interview. Your job is to be memorable, likable and to demonstrate genuine interest for the firm or organization. Here are five tips to help you thrive during OCI.

#1 Review Your Resume.

I know you wrote it, but how long ago? Try to look at it with fresh eyes. What stands out? Your resume is fair game for interview questions. At my school, we had mock interviews last week. I had answers ready and was prepared to talk about one interest that most people ask about. However, my interviewer asked about a usually overlooked activity. I knew it was on my resume and could speak about it, yet, no one had EVER asked about it! So it felt like that question had come out of nowhere.

#2 Research the firm or organization

First, make sure you can pronounce the firm name correctly.  I recently read an OCI horror story about that! Next, be sure that you can discuss aspects of the particular firm office or organization. For example, be sure to know the type of specialties that specific office has. Not all offices have the same specialties. At a recent firm presentation, the attorney shared that one of the worst things that can happen is when a law student says they know they want to practice X law, but the office they are interviewing at does not handle it.

1L OCI

#3 Prepare Questions to Ask

Remember your goal in the screener interview is to get a callback. If you can ask meaningful questions about the firm or organization, it shows that you have a real interest in working there. Consider asking about the firm culture, probono work, and how attorneys collaborate. The key here is to show that you’ve done your homework (see #2) and have a genuine interest in the firm or organization. Come up with more question than you can ask, as running out of questions is as bad as not having any.

  • Pro Tip: If you know who will be interviewing you, be sure to have looked up their CV/Resume. You can ask about their recently published works or cases and perhaps find some common interests.

#4 Dress Appropriately

For your initial interview, a suit is best in almost all cases. Check with your law school career office, but as you are likely familiar, most seem to recommend conservative, dark color suits. I would suggest that you make sure you wear it a few days before the interview to make sure you are comfortable. Nothing is worse than not to be comfortable in what you are wearing while trying to impress others, so make sure you can sit, stand and walk with confidence.

  • Pro Tip and Fashion PSA: Look at your suit jacket, pants, and skirt. Do you an odd X (usually over a flap)? Yes? CUT IT OFF! That X is a tacking stitch, and it is meant to prevent inappropriate creasing during shipping and when things are hanging on a rack. Still not sure what I am talking about? Check out this article: https://www.buzzfeed.com/tomvellner/suit-jacket-tacking-stitch

#5 Be Yourself!

Yes, interviewing is intense! Yes, you are trying to show your best traits and qualities in 20 minutes! Yes, there is another student outside waiting to do the same thing!

BUT… BE YOURSELF. 

Don’t try to be the person you think they want you to be as you will likely come across in a way that just makes things worse. The screener interview is all about “fit.” Do you fit in with the culture of the firm? Are you a person they would want to work with every day? Are you a person they can trust? These are all questions the firm or organization is trying to determine. If you are not authentic, you might find yourself in a miserable situation for the entire summer. Remember you are awesome… Be yourself!

Do you have more tips to share? Personal OCI stories? Did these tips help you? Let me know over at the @The1LLife on Twitter and Instagram.

3 Steps to Create a Shell Outline

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona

One of the major things I decided to implement much earlier this semester was outlining earlier and reviewing it frequently. I struggled with this last semester and by midterms I discovered what I should have done!

The answer for me was creating a “shell” outline. Though, I learned about this in my BARBRI Law Preview class, I didn’t think this was going to work for me. I was I wrong! Using this method, last year, right before midterms was so helpful. I committed to making sure that I did it this semester before I hit week 4. The followers of @The1LLife were interested in the process so here it is. How you create a shell outline in 3 pretty easy steps.

First, let me explain that a “shell outline” is an outline that combines the casebook table of contents (which are usually organized by topic and cases) and your professor’s outline. The goal of a “shell outline” is to have each case and major topic that covers from the beginning to the end of the course. Yes, I am talking about creating an outline now that will go to the end of the class.

So instead of creating an outline as you go, with a “shell outline” you fill it in as you go. The advantage of this is that everything is well organized. You don’t have to think about what to call each area, as it is already done for you. Since you are just filling in the details as you go, it makes it much easier to keep your notes organized. If you use the headings feature you can create an attack and concise outline at the same time, but we will talk about using the heading feature at a different time.

Now is the perfect time to create your shell outline and fill it in! Here is how to get started:

Step 1 – Gather the Required Materials

To do this, you will need your professors course outline and your casebook table of contents. I have most of my books in a digital format, so this is easy for me to copy and paste from. If you do not have digital versions, never fear. You simply need to go to the publisher of your textbook and look for the index, they often supply this on the student resources page. If you can’t find it there, you can just google it. For Aspen published book, you will usually find this on the companion website. Here is the master list: http://www.aspenlawschool.com/

Shell Outline

Step 2 – Merge the Documents

The next step is to merge your professors outline and the casebook table of contents together. I prefer to have the table of contents from the casebook to be the “base” of the outline. I will usually copy and paste this either from the digital casebook or from the index pdf into a google doc or word doc. Then copy and paste the headers from the professors course outline. This will provide you a document that has all of the major headers from the textbook and your professor, plus all of the cases. This will take some time, but as you go through the professor’s outline, you can delete cases you will skip and sections of the casebook you will not cover.

Step 3 – Begin Filling in the Shell Outline

Voila! The shell outline has not been created through the end of the semester! Now the final step is to start filling in your notes from the previous weeks. For cases, be sure to note the Rule, Determinative Facts and any other information your professor likes you to know. Once you have caught the outline up, you can use this shell outline to take notes the rest of the semester. 

If you follow this method, you will have an outline that has every major case, organized by topic in a way that matches the structure your professor intended. You can also organize the outline using various headings, so you can also create an attack outline as you go. 

If you have any questions about this you can reach me @The1LLife on Twitter and Instagram

The 1L Job Search: The Importance on Cover Letters

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona

If your school is anything like mine, while we are barely into the second semester, deadlines for job postings for the Spring OCI period for 1Ls are quickly closing. If you did not take my advice from my last blog of the Fall semester, you might find yourself scrambling to gather your materials, or you might be sweating bullets over your GPA and think all hope is lost. But there is a piece of the application, that is often overlooked, that might help salvage your efforts. The cover letter.

A powerful cover letter can often help open doors that might otherwise be locked. Here are three tips that can take your cover letter from bland to door opener.

1)  The basics: Address it Properly!

We were lucky enough at my school to not only have a class called Prepare to Practice, that helped us prepare our cover letters and resumes in October and November, but last week a law firm came to our school to talk to us about the Spring OCI process. The number one issue, that can absolutely close a door, even with a high GPA, is if you address the cover letter to the wrong firm!

This seems like an impossible mistake, but this has been brought up time and time again. Remember how you had to make sure your essay was to the right school during law school applications? Same rules apply here. Double check who it is addressed to as well that you do not mention ANY other firm besides the one you are sending the letter to in the text. Be sure to look at the job listing to see who and how the cover letter is supposed to be addressed. Failing to follow this simple instruction can also close doors.

1L Job Search

2)  Take it to the Next level: Connect the dots!

Why this firm, judge, or inhouse position? What does their 1L summer program offer that you can benefit from over others? You can find this information by reviewing the website for the firm, nonprofit or judge. After you discover this, think about what you have to offer. Have you worked in other positions similar to the work you will do there? Have you never had a law job but have transferable skills like public speaking? Look at the job description and attempt to “tie in” the skills or attributes of what they are looking for that match your own abilities. This shows that you are really interested in working there. Also, it demonstrates from the beginning, how you are different from other applicants.

3)  Expert Level: Personalization!

Have you met a partner or spoken to an associate of the firm? If so, be sure to mention that person by name. Have you volunteered with the organization in some way, or attended a conference they have hosted? Include that information as well. To really stand out, you want to make sure the reader understands that you have customized the cover letter just for them. Again, reviewing their website can provide valuable insights. You want to look for things they highlight and discover what they feel sets them apart from others. Once you know what this is, talk about it and make a personal connection to what is important to them.

Best of luck on your job search, and understand that paid 1L positions are very rare, but understand the interviews you do in Spring OCI are preparing you for 2L Fall OCI! Do you have any other suggestions for cover letters? If so let me know over at the @The1LLife on Twitter or Instagram.

Course Correct or Stay the Course, 1L? 3 Questions to Consider.

1L

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona

Welcome back to the second semester! Congratulations, we are 1/6thof the way to graduation!

The first week of the Spring semester is the perfect time to reevaluate last semester and make changes as needed. Many of you do not have your grades yet, but here is a quick word about that. Grades do not define you.  No matter where you landed, top of your class, or at the bottom, this is a fresh new semester. Regardless of your grades (or based on them), you may choose to stay the course, or to course correct. Here are the top the top three questions to ask yourself to see if a change is needed.

Did you know what your professor was looking for?

1L

It is so easy to forget that law school exams are not just about demonstrating your mastery of the topic, but also demonstrating that mastery in the way your professor wants. Most of the people I spoke to from 2L when they thought back on their 1L exams, said writing the exam in the way the professor wanted was the main thing that really distinguished people who received top grades from each other.

When you are reviewing your exam, as yourself if you answered the question in the way the professor wanted you to. For instance, was the answer suppose to be written for a judge or a teenage client? That should have framed the way you wrote your answer. Another way to really make sure you know what your professor is looking for is to go to office hours frequently. I know it can be intimidating, but if you are not sure what to talk about prepare answers to the questions at the end of the cases you read and ask to review those. That will provide you with good insight into what they are looking for.

The earlier you do this, the more likely you will be able to frame your outline in a way that will help you on the final. Speaking of outlines…

Was your outline structured in a way that helped you?

Think about your outline that you used on test day. How could have it been different that would have benefited you. Maybe you wrote your own outline but it was too comprehensive. Or maybe your attack outline was too brief. Or perhaps you just didn’t have time to study from it appropriately. Once you have your grades back, go get your exam, compare it to the model answers provided and then look at your outline. Make notes of what material would have been helpful on your outline. What could have been phrased in a different way?

What is the one thing you wish you had done more or less of?

This will be different from every student. We all have one thing we wish we had done more or less of. When I spoke to students, many said: “study more.” Though, I encourage you to drill that down more and pick one specific thing. Some wish they had played fewer video games or spent more time reading notes of the cases. On the flip side, others wish they had given themselves a day off, as they spent every minute in the library. Some simply wish they had made more friends or taken a bit more time for themselves at the gym. Whatever it is, as yourself this question and make a plan to implement it.

I hope these three basic questions help you to reevaluate last semester and make the changes to make this semester even better! What is one thing you wish you had done more or less of this past semester? Let me know over at the @The1LLife on Twitter or Instagram.