Better or worse? Ten ways 2L year differs from 1L year

2L differs from 1L

Makenzie Way, University of Pennsylvania Law School 

1L year was tough, and I won’t lie. 2L year is also tough. But they’re tough in different ways. Maybe your 1L year was exactly what you expected or was nothing you had imagined, but the beauty of 2L year is that you have a solid year of law school under your belt. You can utilize what you learned from 1L year to help you tackle what’s to come in 2L year. Here are (in my opinion) how the two years differ.

1) Hardly anyone discusses 2L year

This is unlike 1L year, during which there are countless blogs, books and student opinions available. You’re pretty much on your own in terms of preparation. (Of course, you should probably bookmark for a lot of good 2L info, from how to go about internships, clerkships and clinics to planning for early bar exam requirements you can take care of starting now.)

2) Re-enter the social life

In 1L year, you’re expected to live in the library, so you really only need to juggle class time and assignments with studying. During 2L year, you’re encouraged to attend events (even virtually), network more (email and Zoom calls), etc., while still maintaining your grades and classroom presence.

3) Case briefing revisited

Unless you’re in all doctrinal classes, you’ve probably forgotten about case briefing or at least don’t need to case every single case like you did as a 1L student.

4) Course selection freedom

Also known as “the Holy Grail” of not being a 1L student. Gone are the days of forced enrollment in required first-year courses.

5) The whole clerkship thing

You may have talked about clerking as a 1L student, especially during your summer job hunt. However, 2L year is the time to submit your application and decide whether you want to pursue a post-graduation clerkship. (No pressure though!)

6) A marginally better diet

Well, maybe. During 1L year, you’re almost forced into attending a large variety of Lexis and/or research training lunches, as well as other school mandated events where the food of choice is generally pizza. As a 2L student, you no longer have to go to those events – you can avoid pizza. Plus, in my experience, most 2L-targeted events actually have a much healthier food selection.

2L differs from 1L

7) Journals

We love them for the resume boost, but man are they a lot of work. I think every 2L on a journal has at one point during an edit questioned: “why did I think being on a journal was a good idea?”

8) Classes with new people

This is a struggle not encountered by the average 1L since the section structuring ensures you’ll have class with the same people for the entire year. While meeting new people is great, there’s also something comforting about getting cold called in front of people you already know which is gone in 2L.

9) More accountability, time and effort

You may have been a 1L rep of a student organization, but as a 2L you’re probably now the treasurer or hold some other board member position that grants you more involvement and influence. This requires more accountability, time and effort.

10) Better sense of security

And while I could go on, the most notable difference about 2L is that you enter with a sense of security because you survived 1L– whether that sense of security is realistic or not, we’ll have to wait and see!

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