Although my 1L year was quite the adventure, I'd have to say that it was a successful year overall. I
made friends, got good grades, and overall enjoyed the time that I spent in law school. However, looking back there are things that I wish I would've done, and things I definitely could've done better. As always, it's important that I share what I've learned with all of you. So here is my short guide on how to have a successful 1L year.
Firstly, make sure you put your academics at the forefront of your priority list. I got told over and over again that grades are the only thing that matters 1L year. While that does have slight merit to it, I contend that this is an absolute and utter lie. While I do think that schoolwork should be the main focus for first-year law students, this does not mean that it should be the only priority.
That being said, make sure that you study hard. This may seem absolutely obvious, but it is an essential part of being successful. Law school is essentially a full-time job, and thus expect to spend that much time on it.
CREATE A ROUTINE
Like I said, law school is a full-time job. Thus, you settle into a routine, as if it were any 8-to-5 job. I'm not saying that you have to follow any particular time frame - there are a variety of law school study schedules that people follow. Whatever schedule you choose, just make sure that it works for you. Sometimes things in law school get rather difficult, and a routine makes it easier to go into autopilot and still get things done. Not to mention, the environment of law school is extremely stressful, and it's nice to be able to rely on a routine every now and then.
Again, this may seem rather obvious. But some law schools are rather intensive and competitive, and people tend to look out for themselves rather than make friends. Other times, you may not feel like you have time to make friends, or you may not want to get attached to people that you'll leave in three years. To be honest, I spent the first semester actively rejecting friendship with my classmates (aside from my wonderful roommates, who are two of the best friends I have ever had). Second semester, I made it a mission - with the advice of my therapist - to make some close friends. It made law school a lot more enjoyaa ble, and my quality of life improved.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
I recently read a statistic that 30% of law students have some level of depression. While I don't know how accurate this statistic is, but I completely and totally believe it. Law school takes a toll on your mental health - I openly admit that I struggled with depression and anxiety this year. However, I learned how to take care of my mental health and I ultimately got much mroe successful as I did. Self-care is one of the best ways to be successful in law school. Whether you take the time to get professional counseling, simply set aside an hour a week to treat yourself, or medicate for existing mental illnesses - make sure to priortize your mental health to have a successful 1L year.
TAKE A VACATION
Finally! A fun way to be sucessful. The semesters in the law school can get long while you are studying, and before you know it, it's December and you never left the libary. Get out every now and then, whether it's a day trip to a nearby city, or a week at the beach for spring break. Sometimes the best way to focus on school is to take a bit of time away and come back. I didn't do this nearly enough 1L year and I am actively trying to fix that for next year. I booked a trip to Disney World in the fall, Thanksgiving in the Rocky Mountains with my family, and a couple of ideas for fun trips during the spring. You'll thank me for this one.
KEEP YOUR EYES FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE
Law school can be terrible. They call it he1L for a reason. But remember, in the end it will all be worth it when you get handed that Juris Doctor. So just keep your eyes focused on the future, remember the reason why you came to law school in the first place, and think about all the goals that you have for yourself.
Before you know it, you'll also be finishing your 1L year and thinking back on what a huge success it was!