Why You Should Take a Pre-3L Vacation

Makenzie Way, 3L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Pre-3L Vacation, What’s That?

Congratulations future 3L’s!  You’ve made it through 2L! Your summer job is behind you and you (hopefully) have a few glorious weeks of freedom before school starts up again. Now you could spend those weeks at home. Whether that be your physical home, your summer apartment, or your school-year abode. But, I’m here to suggest that you get out of town if you can.

A pre-3L vacation may seem pointless considering nearly everyone embarks on a bar trip … buuuut trust me it has its benefits.


If you spent your summer working at a mid to large-sized law firm you likely made some decent cash during your ten weeks. And while it would probably be irresponsible to blow all that money on a single pre-3L vacation (we do have rent to think about after all) the reality is that for many of us we have more money then we’re used to, so why not treat yourself a little!


In 1L we worked our behinds off. We strived to be top of our class, to make law review, and position ourselves well for OCI. In 2L we relaxed somewhat, but the stress of acing our courses, standing out on our journal, completing pro bono hours, and preparing for our summer jobs left us with little time for fun and relaxation.

Unless you’re enrolled in a joint-degree, 3L is our final year. For most, it’s less intimidating, mostly because the job and grade stress is somewhat behind us. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need some energy and stamina to make it through this last year and all that’s encompassed within the bar exam.

A pre-3L vacation is a wonderful way to recharge so you enter your final year of law school with the most energy possible. Plus, it’s not bad for mental health either, which is equally as important!


Popular trend for post-bar exam trips seems to be to pick some faraway destination, rent hotels and set out with a few of your closest law school friends. The logic makes sense, once we all start our careers and move to different cities we won’t be seeing each other all that often.

When you go on vacation before 3L you don’t feel the same pressure to go with your law school friends, though you certainly can if you want! It’s a great opportunity to reconnect with friends from home or with family.


Short and simple: you deserve it! You’ve spent the past two years working hard to get to this spot. You spent the summer working long(ish) hours and networking your butt off to ensure you received that post-summer job offer. All your hard work shouldn’t go unnoticed.

… Okay so you’re thinking you want to do a pre-3L vacation, but what should you do? Where should you go?

Personally, I went to Turkey with my dad. I don’t see him often while in school and his birthday was in August. This was a great way to combine a cool birthday gift for him with quality time together. I chose Turkey because it was somewhere I’d never been before but had always intrigued me. It was relatively inexpensive. We elected to use Airbnb’s to save some money, and flew with local discount airlines. I spent a few days exploring the bustle of Istanbul before retreating to a small beach town to recharge and relax, and then finished my trip by heading to Cappadocia to explore the hiking and hot air balloons.

With that said, not everyone wants to spend weeks camped out on a beach soaking up the sun, navigating trains in some foreign country, or dishing out the money for an international flight. Thankfully, there’s a way to shape a pre-3L vacation to fit you and your wants!

You can easily plan a staycation by renting a nearby cottage or campsite, or by booking tours and activities that you otherwise wouldn’t because they’re a little too “touristy.” Alternatively, you can escape your hometown or summer abode by doing a road trip to a nearby state with a few friends; stop into an amusement park or a historical site, play some great tunes, and really just make the most of it.

Regardless of where you decide to go, you should consider going somewhere or doing something to reward yourself for all your hard work, and to prepare yourself for your last months in law school!

So current 3L’s, did you take a pre-3L vacation? We’d love to hear more about your adventures and what you thought you got out of your vacation! Comment on our social media channels with your stories.