The Myth of Law Student Imposter Syndrome

Mara Masters, 1L at Emory Law

In the last two weeks I have had probably two dozen conversations with 1Ls at various schools, each of which started with something like this: “I thought I understood (International Shoe, consideration, the noscitur a sociis canon, etc.) but then I got to class and now I am so confused. Maybe I don’t belong in law school.”

I usually respond with a smirk because each person who has said that to me thinks they are the only one who feels that way.

This is the myth of law student imposter syndrome – a pathologized version of what would ordinarily be a healthy humility based on being a novice in the field. I know from experience that law student imposter syndrome can be debilitating, but I also know from experience that it can be overcome.

Here are some tips for how to deal with law student imposter syndrome:

Identify when your law student imposter syndrome is overshadowing or undermining your ability

This could show up in a lot of different ways. At my law school, we just got our diagnostic memo grades back. This is always a tough moment because, for many law students, this is the first time they’ve had reason to doubt their abilities.

Imposter syndrome sits on your shoulder like evil Kronk and tells you that you should have known how to write a memo and your inability to do so perfectly is a sign that you don’t belong here. You will never figure out how to do it well. It is not a skill you can learn, and even if other people can learn it, you cannot. Sorry, sucker. May as well drop out of law school.

These are lies told to you by your imposter syndrome. You are obviously a bright human. You learned a new language when you studied for the LSAT, so you are clearly capable of learning a new language. Now you are just learning the language of Torts, Civ Pro, Leg Reg, Contracts, and Legal Writing all at once. It’s overwhelming, but you can do it!

Rediscover your confidence

Find your groove—I have heard this said as “stay in your lane,” but I think “find your groove” is more fun. It’s a dance metaphor. Dancing is fun, right? We’ll have some posts later in the semester about how to find your groove, but the foundation of it is this:

Figuring out what works for you is a process. That’s ok. I know it feels like there is a lot of pressure to figure everything out right now at this very second. But you will be so much better off if you take the time to figure out what your groove is. How do you study best? What kind of notes work for you? Which classes are most important in terms of what career you think you would like to pursue?

Be an excellent student—You are here to learn, right? You don’t come into law school knowing everything (or in my case, anything) about the law. Embrace the opportunity to learn by being the best student you can. Go to office hours. Join a study group, find a tutor, try to teach the concept to yourself, your dog, your mom, a willing study partner. Find your groove – whatever works for you – and dive in!

Practice every day. First semester of 1L has three classes that use multiple rules. The UCC, USC, the FRCP, the Restatements, oh my. How do you learn all of these rules? Practice them. Flashcards, practice quizzes, supplements, etc. Practice makes permanent.

Engage in things outside of school that you are already good at—painting, running, networking, writing, baking – whatever it is. Law school is not everything. Not only will these things bring you some life because they are not law school, but they will also help restore some of your confidence.

Get some sleep—I have two schticks that I know annoy everyone in my proximity. First, you need to drink enough water. America is chronically dehydrated and that’s real bad folks. Second, you need to just let yourself sleep. There is ample research that demonstrates that lack of sleep can lead to increased anxiety and depression. That’s the last thing you need as you’re trucking through torts.

Last, remember why you wanted to go to Law School in the first place. You may not know your end goal and that’s ok. Reminding yourself that you are here for a reason will help to make the day-to-day struggle more bearable.

Have a story about how you’ve handled law student imposter syndrome? Reach out on Twitter or Instagram — @the1Llife

SOS: 3Ls Without Jobs

3Ls

Makenzie Way, 3L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

3Ls – classes are in session

Hey 3Ls, the hustle and bustle of law school life has started up and along with it, the chatter of summer job offers. You’re happy for your 3L friends and peers who’ve landed jobs already, but internally you’re starting to freak out because you don’t have one yourself! What do you do?! How are you going to pay your student loans off? Will your parents be disappointed?

First, take a deep breath, it’s going to be fine.

There is an entire year of law school left, you’ve got time! With that said, start planning now. There may be a year left but jobs get snatched up quick and you don’t want to miss a potential hiring spree.

  1. Begin with the obvious:

    Talking to your school counselor or employment office. They may seem useless at times, but they’re there for a reason, they have connections and experience we don’t. Enter the appointment not in a mad panic, but with a goal in mind (i.e. what sectors of law you’re most interested in, geographical target areas, where you’re flexible and where you’re not).

  2. Draft a firm application plan:

    Research a wide range of law firms in your desired geographic areas (remember New York hires the most, but other states still exist). Consider big firms, medium firms, small firms, and boutique or specialty firms. Document the firm names, practice areas, strengths, recruiting contact information and application deadlines. Most importantly, set a timeline for applying.

      • If you strike out, expand your geographic search.
  3. Law firms may be the most popular career avenue, but they’re not the only one.

    Begin compiling a list of governmental agencies, businesses, and public interest entities that hire new graduates, even if just for a fellowship year. Set a timeline for applying and stick to it.

      • Again, consider expanding your geographic search if your initial search doesn’t yield results after a reasonable period of time.
  4. Since you’re already mass emailing recruiters, why not apply to some clerkships as well!

    The Chancery Courts and Supreme Court clerkships may be gone, but lower courts and courts in smaller states may still be hiring. When applying, keep in mind most judges prefer snail mail to email. It’s understandable that you want a quick response, but when possible send a physical letter or supplement your email with one.

  5. Non-traditional Job Options

    If at this point you’ve applied to every traditional law job you can think of and you’re still not getting favorable responses, then it may be time to consider non-traditional job options. Some ideas include: lawyers without borders; in-house representation at a small startup; legal administrative positions; legal recruiting positions; local bar administration positions; arbitrator or union jobs; university jobs such as a legal librarian or legal counselor; research positions and fellowships; legal database representative, etc.

3Ls, job hunting can be stressful! Especially when people around you have already secured employment. Try to tune the noise out and focus on your own strengths and goals. Utilize the connections you’ve made thus far, and don’t be scared to step outside of the box. You never know, you may end up finding your dream job! And if you don’t there’s nothing stopping you from job hunting down the road.

Understanding Graduation Requirements

graduation requirements

Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona

Graduation Requirements?

Do you know what your graduation requirements are? I know it seems ridiculously early to be concerned with this. We are just first semester 2Ls after all, but I’ve got plans! When I told a few people about this weeks blog topic, they mostly fell into two categories. Either they were like OMG I need to do this too, or they said I was giving them anxiety just thinking about it.

If you fall into the second category, I’m sorry… but perhaps it is better to glance at these now, then to realize that you can’t do something you want to in the future, because of something you did in 2L. I recommend visiting your Registrar or your school website to glance at your graduation requirements, this way you at least know what is ahead! For me, like I said I have big plans… or would at least like the option of big plans! Maybe you also have similar goals. Here are mine!

Goal 1: Be February Bar Eligible

First off, I’m not sure if I want to take the February Bar, but I might want to. I realized this past week if I wanted that to be a possibility, I had to make some changes and fast! Arizona allows students to take the February Bar if we need 10 credits or less in our final semester to graduate. I’m not a fan of summer school, so I needed to see if I could do this without it. It turns out I could, but the February Bar requirements were not my only problem…

This semester I originally took many practical classes. I have pre-trial litigation, ICN (Interviewing, Counseling & Negotiations), a 38(d) Criminal Prosecution clinic, Evidence, PR (professional responsibility), plus a seminar. Essentially, I have 18 credits, but only 10 are for grades. At my school, you must have 37 credits grades after 1L, with 88 credits total, and 64 of those most come from classroom instruction, so my journal and externships do not count. This meant I was in a jam. However, with a few minor changes, I was able to set myself up to be on track to hit all of my potential goals.

Graduation Requirements

Goal 2: Study Abroad

Yes, I know this seems crazy, but I have heard so many wonderful things about doing a study abroad program, especially in law school. I know I want to have this as an option, and ideally, while most 3Ls do this in their Spring semesters for me, I would love to do this in the Fall of 3L. Like I said at my school, we have well-defined graduation requirements, and I wasn’t sure how a study abroad would factor into the 37 of graded hours requirement.

It turns out that the classes convert to pass/fail, but the school reduces the amount of graded credit required so you can still meet this requirement.  The other fabulous thing is my scholarship will cover specific study abroad programs! I also found out that study abroad credits would count as classroom instruction, so I also get to count those towards the 64! If you want to do a study abroad, check on the deadlines to decide, for me, I have to put a deposit down by March.

Goal 3: Participate in an Externship Program away from school

Many schools have established programs in DC, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and more. You can also set these up on your own by finding externships and taking online classes. At my school, for the first time, we will have an established externship program in Phoenix. This means we will take in-person classes in Phoenix and then work for a Phoenix-based employer as well. These classes are taught by Arizona Supreme Court Justices, renowned experts in their field, and more which is fantastic. But these are specialized legal topics, rather than doctrinal subjects. We also have the option of having them be graded or pass-fail. Because I have a place in Phoenix, I want to do this program twice, so I needed to make sure I could do that and complete some or all of my other goals.

The good news? I figured it all out.

I am admittedly an Excel nerd. My friends laugh when I tell them that spreadsheets calm me down, but it is true. I created a spreadsheet that laid everything out for me, and I did have to make some changes to this semester’s classes to make sure I used my credits efficiently. This semester I am still taking 18 credits (10 graded), and 18 credits next semester with 12-16 graded credits). This leaves me with 20 credits required to graduate, with 11 – 15 graded credits required over 3L. Woo hoo! Who knows if I will do all of these goals or just some of them, it depends… yep, I said it. IT DEPENDS!!!

Have you already taken a look at your requirements? Do you want a copy of my spreadsheet? If so send me a message @The2LLife on Instagram or Twitter!

How I Use the 1L Mastery to Survive the Day-to-Day

Mara Masters, 1L at Emory Law

Hi! My name is Mara and now that Stephanie has graduated to the 2L life, I am taking over here at the 1L Life.

If you’re reading this, that probably means you are either my mom (Hi mom!) or that you have made it through the first few weeks of Law School! Congratulations! Ignore the nagging feeling that you understand less about the law than when you started and remind yourself of everything you’ve accomplished. Now remind yourself again. Law school is hard, but you can crush it.

If you still feel weighed down by how little you understand about the law, don’t worry. I get it. That’s one of the reasons I love the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package. Another reason is that just like every other student at Emory Law, immediately after I was sworn into the profession, I also swore undying loyalty to Professor Freer. I have no problems with this, because I am the weirdo who actually loves Civ Pro.

1L Mastery Package is for the start of the semester just as much as for the end.

Jokes aside though, here are some ways I use it in my day-to-day work:

  • To illuminate the overarching concepts that I can’t piece together from the case readings.

I am a global thinker to a fault.

You know the adage, “don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees?” My problem is more like I am standing in a forest and can’t tell that what is in front of me is a tree because I don’t realize that I am in a forest.

For better or worse, we learn the law through inductive processes. That’s extra difficult when you are learning dense material that often seems to defy logic. I often find myself standing right in front of Promissory Estoppel and can’t tell that I am in Contracts. When this happens, I open up my 1L Outlines Book, and instantaneously have the immediate context for every concept. This helps me understand complex topics immensely more than re-reading cases does.

1L Notes
(Photo of study notes: My actual, hand-written notes on Consideration. Not pictured: the vat of coffee just outside the frame)

It also helps me refresh previous concepts. Can’t remember how personal jurisdiction works? No worries. I can go watch that lecture from Professor Freer on the BARBRI website and then take a follow-up quiz to make sure I understand it. (Side note: at Emory, we refer to Professor Freer’s lectures as “The Freer Tapes” as though they are top-secret FBI documents).

  • To define terms succinctly.

Do you remember when you were in elementary school and had to practice using context clues to define unfamiliar words? I often feel like that when reading casebooks. Legal jargon is dense, ya’ll. Sometimes using context clues doesn’t work and looking up terms online is more confusing than just going about my life in ignorance.

Dog reading
(Photo of Charley- I swear I did not bribe him with treats to wear those glasses in front of a BARBRI outline book. I found him like this. Swear.)

And sometimes I go online to look something up and come back to my textbook 40 minutes later with a new pair of boots from L.L.Bean and zero terms defined. That is neither here nor there. The point is that the 1L Outlines Book does a pretty excellent job at defining complex words simply enough that my elementary-school brain can handle it.

  • I’m thinking toward the endgame.

Good 1L Outlines are beefy.

I have held some in my hands that weigh literal pounds. They are intimidating – “A problem for future-Mara,” as I sometimes say. But by exposing myself regularly to very well constructed outlines, I am “photographing two birds with one exposure” (thank you Professor George Shepherd) – I am learning the material I need to learn and teaching myself the language of the outline at the same time!

  • Charley Likes It.

If you’re still not sure about whether 1L Mastery might be helpful to you, give it a try. It’s free for a limited time. Have any questions about how I use it or why I love Civ Pro? Reach out! You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @the1Llife!

Why You Should Take a Pre-3L Vacation

Pre-3L Vacation

Makenzie Way, 3L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Pre-3L Vacation, What’s That?

Congratulations future 3L’s!  You’ve made it through 2L! Your summer job is behind you and you (hopefully) have a few glorious weeks of freedom before school starts up again. Now you could spend those weeks at home. Whether that be your physical home, your summer apartment, or your school-year abode. But, I’m here to suggest that you get out of town if you can.

A pre-3L vacation may seem pointless considering nearly everyone embarks on a bar trip … buuuut trust me it has its benefits.

FIRST:  

If you spent your summer working at a mid to large-sized law firm you likely made some decent cash during your ten weeks. And while it would probably be irresponsible to blow all that money on a single pre-3L vacation (we do have rent to think about after all) the reality is that for many of us we have more money then we’re used to, so why not treat yourself a little!

SECOND:

In 1L we worked our behinds off. We strived to be top of our class, to make law review, and position ourselves well for OCI. In 2L we relaxed somewhat, but the stress of acing our courses, standing out on our journal, completing pro bono hours, and preparing for our summer jobs left us with little time for fun and relaxation.

Unless you’re enrolled in a joint-degree, 3L is our final year. For most, it’s less intimidating, mostly because the job and grade stress is somewhat behind us. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need some energy and stamina to make it through this last year and all that’s encompassed within the bar exam.

A pre-3L vacation is a wonderful way to recharge so you enter your final year of law school with the most energy possible. Plus, it’s not bad for mental health either, which is equally as important!

THIRD:

Popular trend for post-bar exam trips seems to be to pick some faraway destination, rent hotels and set out with a few of your closest law school friends. The logic makes sense, once we all start our careers and move to different cities we won’t be seeing each other all that often.

When you go on vacation before 3L you don’t feel the same pressure to go with your law school friends, though you certainly can if you want! It’s a great opportunity to reconnect with friends from home or with family.

FOURTH:

Short and simple: you deserve it! You’ve spent the past two years working hard to get to this spot. You spent the summer working long(ish) hours and networking your butt off to ensure you received that post-summer job offer. All your hard work shouldn’t go unnoticed.

… Okay so you’re thinking you want to do a pre-3L vacation, but what should you do? Where should you go?

Personally, I went to Turkey with my dad. I don’t see him often while in school and his birthday was in August. This was a great way to combine a cool birthday gift for him with quality time together. I chose Turkey because it was somewhere I’d never been before but had always intrigued me. It was relatively inexpensive. We elected to use Airbnb’s to save some money, and flew with local discount airlines. I spent a few days exploring the bustle of Istanbul before retreating to a small beach town to recharge and relax, and then finished my trip by heading to Cappadocia to explore the hiking and hot air balloons.

With that said, not everyone wants to spend weeks camped out on a beach soaking up the sun, navigating trains in some foreign country, or dishing out the money for an international flight. Thankfully, there’s a way to shape a pre-3L vacation to fit you and your wants!

You can easily plan a staycation by renting a nearby cottage or campsite, or by booking tours and activities that you otherwise wouldn’t because they’re a little too “touristy.” Alternatively, you can escape your hometown or summer abode by doing a road trip to a nearby state with a few friends; stop into an amusement park or a historical site, play some great tunes, and really just make the most of it.

Regardless of where you decide to go, you should consider going somewhere or doing something to reward yourself for all your hard work, and to prepare yourself for your last months in law school!

So current 3L’s, did you take a pre-3L vacation? We’d love to hear more about your adventures and what you thought you got out of your vacation! Comment on our social media channels with your stories.

Paying it Forward 2L Style

2L

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona

Paying it Forward 2L Style

We’ve all been there… and now it is time to pay it back, by paying it forward by helping 1Ls. Often, I talk to my fellow 2Ls to find out what I should write about each week. My friend Katrina suggested this topic and also provided a meaningful quote that is the inspiration for this week’s blog. She said, “As a 1L I thought any advice or words of affirmation from 2Ls felt like a life raft. It is our duty to pay it forward.” She is so right!

I have already taken a few 1Ls “under my wing” by giving advice, and even going as far as getting some second-semester books off our free bookshelf for them. YES!  UofA has a free bookshelf in the library that often has textbooks on it! There are a lot of ways you can pay it forward by helping 1Ls. You might already be doing this through your club, as a BARBRI rep (pssst…. check out the 1L Mastery package), or in some other way. I know I talk a lot about networking and forming relationships with class members, but recently I met with an attorney and they urged me to not only form relationships within my class but at a minimum with the class above and below me as well. For now, let’s just focus on the 1Ls.

Join the Mentor Program

Ok, this may seem obvious, but be on the lookout to see if your school has a formal mentoring program, if they do, sign up. But, if you don’t feel like you have the time to dedicate to the program, be a mentor in other ways. For instance…

2L – Just say hi!

At lunch, make the 1Ls feel welcome. You will likely see a few at the lunch events and if it is on a special topic, you might share similar interests. This is the perfect time to strike up a conversation.

Share your Wisdom

Think about how it felt last year, not really knowing anything about the classes or professors. Now, we’ve been there and done that. You are a wealth of information! For example, you could give:

  1. Advice on Professors
    Share tips on preparing for class, surviving cold calls, or exam tips.
  2. Share Your Outlines
    Have a great outline, or know a resource that can help a 1L out? Let them know and share!
  3. Recommend Clubs
    Help a 1L navigate the plethora of student organizations and clubs. You know who has the best lunch offerings, which clubs have the best events, and provide the best support.
  4. Give tips on having a life outside of law school
    Law school often seems life-consuming, but one of the tips I heard over and over again was to find something else to do as well. Sarah, a fellow 2L, recommended to “Get a hobby that isn’t law school-related. I did Yoga that helped me have friends outside of law school and that was so important!” Share your secrets…

Also, Share Your Struggles

No matter where you are ranked, we all shared struggles during our 1L. It could have been school-related, like the fear of the first cold call, or the impact of living in a new city. I remember seeing 2Ls and it seemed like they may have breezed through 1L, so it was great to hear about their struggles. It made me realize what I was going through was not unique, and that I was going to be ok!

Let me know how you’re paying it forward on Twitter or Instagram @The2LLife. I would love to hear from you!

2L Year, The Time To Check Early Bar Exam Requirements

Believe it or not, the second year of law school is when you should begin researching early bar exam requirements.

If you’re a 2L student reading this blog, yes, that means pretty much now. It’s not too early to get moving on this process. Depending on the state/jurisdiction in which you plan to take the bar, you may encounter specific instructions, special fees and other details that will require plenty of advanced planning and work on your part. The goal is to avoid pitfalls later, when you really don’t want any surprises.

Download the free BARBRI Bar Exam Digest, which has all the information you need to know for every state and jurisdiction, including the UBE.

BE AWARE OF THE STEPS, SAVE YOURSELF MONEY

The bar admission requirements are just that — requirements — and certain ones come with a fee. Pay close attention. Make sure you are fully aware of those requirements and their deadlines. You may have something to do during 2L year.

Ohio is a good example. Your Application to Register as a Candidate for Admission to the Practice of Law (fondly known as Character and Fitness) is due by November 15th of your second year of law school. That second year requirement applies regardless if you are on a three-, four- or five-year plan. It’s a 30-page application that wants to know everywhere you have lived since the age of 18. Seriously.

Another example: In Florida, there’s an even earlier deadline. It allows (and encourages) you to sign up your first year of law school. In fact, the earlier you sign up for the Florida bar exam, the lower your overall fee.

REALIZE THIS IS NOT A QUICK AND EASY PROCESS

Even if you’re going to a state where you don’t have to file your bar exam application until the third year of law school, this is not something you can do in one night. Or even over the course of a week. You will likely have to do some significant digging into your personal, financial and work histories. Remember that traffic ticket you got in the middle of nowhere driving home from college your second year? You are going to have to hunt down the docket for it to include with your application. That’s only part of it. You may have to get forms notarized and references to provide letters of recommendation.

Here’s a helpful Bar Admission Checklist that will give you a general overview of what to expect.

PREPARE TO MOVE FAST, TIME MAY BE LIMITED

Some states have a limited timeline established for you to file your bar exam application. In New York, for example, the application filing period is only one month. No extensions. Late applications are not accepted. The last thing you want is to wait another six months to take the bar because you missed a deadline. As a 2L student now, you can see these coming with more than enough time to gather and do everything you need on schedule.

KNOW THE TOPICS TESTED, TAKE THOSE COURSES

By checking bar exam requirements (going into fall semester of 2L year or sooner), you get to see what’s tested on that exam and then plan your course schedule accordingly. If you’re bar exam state tests Commercial Law and Secured Transactions, consider taking those classes in law school. Give yourself every advantage, early and often.

As with so many things related to law school, taking time to stay informed has its rewards.

The U.S. LL.M | 4 Tips To Get The Most Out of U.S. Law School Class

By Juliana Del Pesco
BARBRI International Legal Manager, Americas

The decision to immerse yourself in a foreign culture and its laws is a bold move. It will also be very rewarding once you are well-prepared. In each U.S. law school class, you will come to understand the language of law in the United States. Strange words such as casebooks, outlines and the Socratic method will soon make good sense to you.

Make the most of what will be an extraordinary international learning experience. Start with our U.S. law school classroom tips.

Here are four ways to get the LL.M. education you desire and be ready to take on a U.S. state bar exam.

#1 USE YOUR CASEBOOK AS YOUR “ROAD MAP”

Central to your LL.M. education over the next year will be learning to read and brief cases. Most of your reading assignments will come from a casebook, which is a compilation of edited judicial opinions, other supporting text such as statutes and law review articles, and questions or problems. Once you complete a reading assignment before class, you will brief the case during class.

It’s a process that takes practice. Your casebook can be your guide for knowing how to approach an assigned case. Take a look as the chapter headings and table of contents in the casebook when you are given a reading assignment. They are your key to finding the topic to which the assigned case may relate and getting up to speed on it.

#2 LEARN TO READ AS A U.S. LAWYER

We all know how to read. But not everyone knows the nuances of critically reading an assigned case. Speed reading may have been the goal in other aspects of your education. It won’t do here. You will soon discover that it is all about grasping what’s on the written page. Careful and critical reading of EVERY word put in front of you. This will be your most effective way to learn U.S. law, and begin thinking like a U.S. lawyer.

Dictionary with featured term "attorney," which begins with success in U.S. law school class

#3 KEEP A GOOD LAW DICTIONARY CLOSE BY

Law is a technical language with technical meanings, and U.S. law is no different. The sooner you can absorb these meanings, the better. So when you’re reading cases, always keep a good law dictionary at hand. If you don’t understand a word you see, stop and look up its meaning. It could make the difference in your ability to properly interpret the case.

In the beginning, if you are still learning the language, you may also need to have an English dictionary to reference.

#4 BE PREPARED TO BRIEF CASES

The ability to brief, or discuss, a case will be extremely important as you move closer to thinking like a U.S. lawyer. A brief is intended to help you recall the case in sufficient detail to discuss during class and to integrate into your class notes. It’s your best way to analyze the facts and reasoning for a reported case in an organized and manageable fashion.

It will serve you well in your legal career to master the art of reading and briefing cases early on. Law school professors largely base their classroom discussions on the “case method” of analysis and discussion rather than straight lecture. You will be expected to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned cases. That means learning how to read and brief those cases as efficiently as possible.

Law school is your time to develop and polish the skills you will need to pass the bar exam and become an amazing international lawyer. Own your U.S. law school class!

For additional guidance to help make the most of your studies, download the free BARBRI LL.M. Guide.


ABOUT BARBRI

BARBRI has helped more than 1.3 million lawyers around the world pass a U.S. bar exam. The company also provides online J.D., post-J.D., and international programs for U.S. law schools and specialized ongoing training and certifications in areas such as financial crime prevention and eDiscovery.

To determine which BARBRI course may be best to help you pass a U.S. state bar exam, check out the blog: BARBRI EXTENDED BAR PREP AND 8-WEEK BARBRI BAR REVIEW: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

The Summer Associate Life of Luxury

summer associate

Makenzie Way, 3L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Summer associate lifestyle

If you come from a lower or middle-class family, the summer associate lifestyle may be a shock, so mentally prepare yourself so you’re ready when the time comes for you to purchase that $30+ salad. Though you chose your firm during the OCI process, they are, to a certain extent, still trying to sell you on the firm – don’t trick yourself into thinking you’ll continue your summer associate lifestyle upon returning to the firm.

Firms and geographic offices differ according to how they conduct their summer programs.

Large New York firms or head offices of a firm generally receive the largest summer budgets, meaning they are able to host more large-scale or ‘luxurious’ events compared to smaller firms or offices.

Regardless of where you are, if you’re at a big law firm you’re in for a treat! The firm wants you to choose them, therefore they want you to meet people within the firm who will sell you on the firm and/or practice group. As a result, attorneys are incentivized to take summers to lunches and coffees as frequently as possible. Personally, I attended a lunch or coffee every day of the summer program.

As a cautionary note, don’t be afraid to block some time off for yourself.

Though lunches are a great networking opportunity, and you should do your best not to cancel lunches or reject partner lunches, it’s not expected that you eat out every single day of the summer, they understand that it gets old. For instance, for the first two weeks of the summer, I was ecstatic to be eating at the best restaurants in my city nonstop. I upped my Starbucks order from a small to a large, and threw in a bakery item for good measure because I wasn’t footing the bill. Around week four, however, I began to miss my homecooked meals … who would have thought? I also questioned whether I was antisocial, or lacking in some essential vitamin.  The daily lunches and coffee breaks that had at first seemed so stimulating, now seemed to drain me. After talking to other summers, I realized it wasn’t just me, we all felt that way! Being ‘on’ 24/7 was wearing us down. So we took it upon ourselves to arrange a few summer-associate only lunches to revive ourselves.

Training events and workshops

Outside of individually planned lunches with attorneys, there are also a number of training events and workshops that you are expected to attend.

As a general rule of thumb, any event that begins or runs through lunch will include food. The training opportunities were all-encompassing, ranging from IT training, mailroom services, file room overview, research training, and practice group-specific training. Likewise, the workshops were divided nicely between the practice groups in an effort to ensure there was something for everyone. I would suggest taking notes in these sessions for your own use during the summer. Though, don’t exhaust yourself trying to memorize everything since you’ll receive more in-depth training when you return.

Networking type events

Firms also host a number of networking type events to provide summers an opportunity to network within the firm. Many of these events are optional, but I would highly suggest attending them all if possible! Partners and associates appreciate summers who attend non-mandatory events; it makes you stand out.  It’s a great way to increase your workflow or your odds of being placed in a certain practice group after the summer ends.

Stepping outside of the firm walls, the official summer events are outstanding!

Most firms aim to host four to five events for the summer associate class. At my firm, our events included a cooking class for the summers and partners; a 5k fun run; a service day at a soup kitchen; a Broadway show; a baseball game; trivia; a paint night; and a farewell party at a rooftop bar in the city.

The best part of the summer associate experience, however, was the unofficial events. By unofficial I mean the after-work drinks with your fellow summers (and maybe an associate or two), the donut runs with your office mate, the weekend beach trips with work friends, and the early morning breakfast dates with your fellow hungry, and possibly hungover, colleagues.

2L: Back to the Classroom

2L

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona

2L Study Mode?

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 OCI, and our 2L summer jobs. Here are some tips to help make the transition back into the classroom a little easier.

Pick Up Some New School Supplies

No matter how many times you’ve had a “first day of school”, for me, there is always something great about getting new school supplies to get me 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 better 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 better (and more organized).

Reflect On 1L

Maybe you had a great 1L, 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 now, might help you get back into your good study and classroom habits from last year, and maybe help you avoid some pitfalls. For me, this means more studying at home instead of in the library.

Use What You Learned At Work

This summer most of us worked in the legal field for the first time. I spent my summer with the trial division of a government agency, and it confirmed that I want to be a litigator. This led me to change up my schedule a bit this semester. Now 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 hated it. 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. 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 told me the hardest part of starting 2L was feeling like they “regressed” from being a productive, contributing member of the law community back to a law student. They felt that by doing pro bono work, that helped bridge that gap between their professional and academic careers.

I wish you a successful start to the school year! How are you transitioning back into the classroom? Feel free to send your tips to @The2LLife on Instagram and Twitter!