Great 1L outlines: It’s about the process

It’s that one thing that looms around every corner of law school.

Maybe you did it some during undergrad, but never quite like this before. It is the bane of your law school existence, yet at the same time, the most crucial piece of exam preparation.


The first month of school consisted of scavenging the right 2L’s and 3L’s for the best outlines out there. Making sure to find those who did very well in your courses – and with your specific professors – is important.

But outlining is about more than just the end result. It’s about the process. Moving your class notes, supplements and handouts to a refined and organized study aid helps you put that critical information to memory. If you just grab from your peers or copy and paste from online sources, you won’t be putting that material in words familiar to you that truly help you understand the rules of law.

Another thing about the “process” … it’s a very long process. It’s time to start outlining (it’s mid-October already). Many schools will have a writing assignment due just before Thanksgiving Break that will require nearly all of your outside time and effort. It’s crucial to be up-to-date with your outlining as soon as (make that, BEFORE) you are given the assignment. This allows you to push aside your other classes, crush that writing memo, then get back to outlining in time to be finished before reading day.

That’s a lot of information. And potentially, a lot of additional stress. But that’s what it takes to get those 1L grades that matter so much.

#The1Life: Why Spring Semester of 1L is Worse Than Fall

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way,
1L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Spring semester carries it with the additional burden, and stress of the job hunt.

It seems to be a universal feeling amongst my classmates that spring semester is undoubtedly worse than the fall.

You would think spring semester would be better, after all you have one semester under your belt; you’ve established a network of mentors, friends and colleagues; and you’re (hopefully) settled into an apartment and finished unpacking your many boxes. However, for some reason the spring semester is more dreaded than the fall. And while I’m not exactly sure why that is, I do have my suspicions.

  • Spring semester carries it with the additional burden, and stress of the job hunt. Unlike fall semester where our only (law school) worries related to our doctrinal classes and passing exams, spring semester had all that plus the additional burden of job applications, interviews, and waiting for callbacks.
  • Since the job hunt is upon us, our school and seemingly every firm in the city, decides to “help” us by hosting countless networking events each and every week. Yes, many of these events include free alcohol and food! But at the same time, they eat up anywhere between three and six hours of your evening, cutting into time previously spent preparing for class.
  • You get your first set of grades in the spring semester, and trust me, no matter how well you did the waiting for grades produces enough anxiety to fill multiple helium balloons. And then even after receiving your grades your left questioning what they mean. Does the A in civil procedure secure you a summer job at firm, or does that B in contracts mean you need to look to public interest?
  • And finally, because I have to end this post somewhere, spring semester is worse because your legal practice skills professor all of a sudden decides you’re ready to independently research, master the bluebook, write a twenty-page brief, and then participate in oral debates on the subject … all while taking your regular classes and searching for a job.