What 1L students wish they knew from day one

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We asked current law students to share their experiences about what they wish they had known or could have told themselves before starting their 1L year in law school. Here are the top responses.

“Law School may make me feel stupid and brilliant all within a single class hour.”

This can be especially true when a cold call goes wrong, or when you walk into class thinking you fully understood an issue and realize you weren’t quite right. Every student has been there. But there are also those moments, often within the same class hour, where it all clicks and that feels amazing!

“Even if I do my best, I still might end up with a B or B+.”

This might just be the element that is most shocking for a lot of 1Ls. All law students are smart, capable and likely top of their classes. But the thing is, so are their classmates and now everyone is on a curve.

The curve can wreck even the best-laid plans. Just remember that a final exam provides a snapshot and does not reflect your total understanding of a given subject. Above all, your grades do not define you. After graduation, it’s your knowledge base that matters rather than a grade in a single class.

“There a multitude of resources at my disposal”

Students often struggle in law school. It can be anything from trying to overcome imposter syndrome to having a hard time dealing with the workload or just the shock “of seeing behind the curtain” as to what lawyers do.

Regardless of your own struggle, first know that you’re certainly not alone in your feelings, and second, there are resources available. Figure out what you need and then make good use of what is available.

Struggling with classes? Talk with your professors, join a study group, consume study tips and tools along with outlining strategies. Struggling with the emotional and mental load of law school? Talk with your school’s counselors or look into mental health resources in your legal community, such as the American Bar Association (ABA).

“Learning the law is not enough.”

In undergrad and grad school, as long as you learn the topic, you will likely do well in your classes. In law school, however, learning is not enough. Professors assume that you have learned the law, so on final exams they are testing to see if you have mastered it. There is a distinct difference here that you will better understand with the taking of more and more practice exams.

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