How to thrive during 1L year and beyond: Do your research, be flexible

Do-Your-Research

[ Mara Masters, 1L at Emory Law ]

This week I had the pleasure of sitting down, via Zoom of course, with Stephanie (The 2L Life) and Mackenzie (The 3L Life) to ask them all of our pressing questions about thriving in 1L and beyond. The biggest takeaways: Do your research and be flexible.

Classes

When it comes to which classes to take 2L and 3L year, consider whether doctrinal or more job-oriented classes would be more valuable. Job-oriented classes provide the ability to learn practical research and writing. Don’t be afraid to experiment with things you know you will love and subjects you might hate. This is the time to find out if you are secretly a tax attorney.

Ask during interviews and OCIs what employers might want you to take. During your summer internship, ask other attorneys and supervisors what they would advise you to take.

Jobs

Whether you intern with a firm, a government agency or a public interest organization, don’t be afraid to say that you are interested in a particular type of law but remember that flexibility is key. Broad exposure to the legal field is valuable, and you may miss out on job opportunities if you pigeonhole yourself by focusing too adamantly on one area.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself, wisely. You are looking for an organization that will be a good fit for you just as much as they are looking for a candidate who will be a good fit for them. If you would have to redo everything about yourself in order to fit into the organizational culture, that might be a red flag that you wouldn’t ultimately be happy there.

Extracurriculars

We both did journal rather than moot court or mock trial. Journals offer diverse opportunities depending on the size and subject matter. Sometimes with smaller journals, there are more opportunities such as funding to go to conferences.

If you are trying to gauge how much of a time commitment a journal is, look at two things: First, look at an average article from that journal. You’re going to have to look at all of the sources cited in that article. Second, look at how often the journal is published and how many editors it has. The more frequently they publish, the more of a time commitment. Perhaps most importantly, find where your people are.

Do journals help job-wise?

They demonstrate that you have the ability to research, fact-check, and meet deadlines, all of which are crucial skills in the legal job market. If you are planning on going into further higher education after law school, experience editing and researching for published works is also very important.

What is your top piece of advice for 1Ls?

Remember that the people you meet now are going to be your colleagues. The things you do now can stick with you in the future, and sometimes be detrimental and embarrassing. On the flip side of that, don’t be afraid to branch out from your section and get to know people you may not have classes with. Consider scheduling one day a week where you ask someone outside of your section to grab lunch or a coffee.

Maintain good contacts with professors. Eventually, you’ll need bar recommendation letters, so pick one professor from each semester to try to maintain a real relationship with.

If you have any other questions you would like to ask @the2lLife or @the3lLife, reach out on Instagram or Twitter!

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