Keeping it Real: What 1Ls said they wish they knew day one

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

Last week I wrote about the path to 1L, and I asked current law students to share their experiences about what they wish they had known or could have told themselves before starting their 1L. Here are the top responses.

I wish I knew that:

Law School can make you feel stupid and brilliant all within a single class hour.

Agree! This can be very true when a cold call goes wrong, or when you walk into class thinking you fully understood an issue and realize you were wrong. Trust me; everyone 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+

I think this is the element that can be shocking for most 1Ls. We are all smart and capable which is why we were admitted to law school. We were likely top of our class, but the thing is, so were most of our classmates and now we are on a curve.

The curve can wreck even the best-laid plans, plus remember that the final was a snapshot and does not reflect your total understanding of the subject matter. Above all, remember that grades do not define you. After we graduate it’s our knowledge base that matters not a grade in a single class.

I could have saved my soul by picking another career path…

When I shared this comment, my DMs lit up with a flood of questions. Most people asked if it was REALLY that bad and if I was ok. So many came in that I changed the Instagram story to clarify that it was a submitted comment to the question, but it is worth sharing.

Many people 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. The reality is that not everyone in law school likes going to law school. If you are going to school to advocate for a particular cause, it can be a challenge to see how some doctrinal classes will help you accomplish this.

For the people that feel this way, my advice is to make the most of your summer externship. This will give you a better look at what your future career will be like, and if you do not enjoy the work, then it might be time, to be honest about your current career path. A few 2Ls also told me that once you start picking your classes, it helps a ton because you are taking the classes that interest you.

My wish? I wish I had known that 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. At law school though, learning is not enough. Professors assume that you have learned the law, so on finals, they are testing to see if you have mastered it. There is a distinct difference there that I didn’t really understand until I was taking practice exams. For me this was crucial, and I have changed the way I am studying this semester because of it.

Are you a current law student and want to add to the list? Let me know over @The1LLife on Twitter or Instagram!