#The3Llife: Lessons I Have Learned in Law School

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GUEST BLOG by Harrison Thorne,
3L at UCLA Law

After three years of law school, I have learned a few things.

Each semester has brought out a new set of lessons, and I am extremely grateful for all the experiences I have had—the good and the bad!  From my current perspective, I wish I would have done things differently. Granted, hindsight is 20/20.  But, here are a few things I wish I knew.

1L: Do what works for you.  Everybody will constantly tell you how to approach reading cases, how to outline, what supplements (if any) you should buy, etc. The most important thing is to figure out, within reason, what works for you. Another important thing is to take it easy and not compare yourself to others. Without doubt, you will see people who appear to have their life together and be working harder than you, and you will feel that you are falling short. First, who knows what they are going through. Second, get to work and stop the comparison.  It won’t help you.  Finally, grades are more important than clubs, activities, and bar associations. It is great to become a part of your community, but really, at the end of the day, grades are priority 1.

2L: Focus on your longer-term goals. If you want to work in a law firm, focus on OCI. But, don’t let things end there. In addition to the interviews you get through your school’s OCI program, you should also reach out to firms and their recruiters on your own. If you want to do public interest work, reach out to your school’s public interest contacts, etc. This is the point at which it is important to lock down a job. Grades are really important, but diverting some attention towards job-search is fine.

3L: Focus on networking, extracurricular activities, and finishing strong. Everybody talks about senioritis and checking out. Don’t be one of those people. It is okay to spend more time on extracurricular activities in place of studying, but don’t get too out of balance.  It is really important to keep grades up—especially if you haven’t yet found a job. On that note, don’t panic if you don’t have a job. Keep reaching out to your school’s career services office, firms, and everybody in between. Don’t lose hope, and don’t wait until after the Bar to start your search.

Things I would do differently: I generally loved my law school experience. I got to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of my school’s Entertainment Law Review, work in two courts (state court and bankruptcy court), compete in a bankruptcy competition, serve as an advisor to the Dean, and work with great professors. However, given another shot, I would spend more time becoming a member of the community. I rarely went to events, and missed out on some great events with amazing speakers. I focused more on studies than anything else, and, while fine, I now wish I would have been more involved at school. There’s a balance, and I feel too far towards “doing my own thing.”

What’s Next: The semester is wrapping up, and things are coming to an end. I am studying for finals, editing a final paper for a class, teaching my last class (I am part of my school’s Street Law program, in which I teach a class of 9th graders weekly), and finalizing my journal for Entertainment Law Review. After my last final, I will attend my graduation, then have a few days off before I begin bar prep with Barbri.

I am actually quite excited for bar prep. I know it sounds “weird,” but I think about bar prep like this: during law school, so many things are constantly pulling my attention. I have to respond to emails, meet with teachers, go to class, work on the journal, etc. During bar prep, I have ONE task: study for the bar. I plan on putting my phone on airplane mode and getting in the zone. And nothing else. I will work from around 6 or 7 in the morning until 5 to 7 at night, then take some time for myself. But, otherwise, my focus during the day will be exclusively geared towards studying for the Bar.

After the Bar Exam, I am going on a vacation with my amazing girlfriend, then taking a bit more time off before starting work. I can’t wait to see what bar prep is like, and, hopefully, to pass the Bar!

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