Hey everyone, Bailey here! Below is a guest post by my colleague Paul at Law School Study Guide! I'm sure many of you have checked out Law School Study Guide before - it's a great resource on all things law school. I wrote a guest post for him too, so make sure to go look at that once you're done with Paul's post here. Without further ado - enjoy!

Maybe you just finished your first year of law school and are wondering if you should drop out.  Don’t give up so fast! You are through the hardest part of law school, with one exception: taking the bar!  The first year of law school is difficult, for multiple reasons. The second year is much better, mainly because you know what to expect.  Let’s take a deeper look at the similarities and differences between 1L and 2L year:

1. A New Place

As with starting any new class or job, or moving to a new location, starting 1L year can cause anxiety.  Don’t worry. Everyone else probably feels exactly the same way you do even though some are able to hide their anxiety better than others.  Having some anxiety is completely normal! After all, you are most likely in an entire new building and being taught by professors of whom you have never met.  Additionally, the first year of law school can cause anxiety because it is held out to be the most important year in law school.
So you may wonder, does 2L year get any better?  The answer is, yes! Your first year in law school is very important, but don’t overlook your second year.  Your second year of law school can help boost your GPA and may just get you your dream job. When you start your 2L year of law school, you will likely have some of the same professors and know how to take a law school exam.  Because law school is entirely new to you as a 1L, your second year naturally seems easier.

TIP:  If your school offers a summer course before your 1L year, this can help you ease into law school and it is a good way to get rid of the anxiety ahead of time that many other students will face during their first semester of law school. 

2. Expectations

One of the biggest differences between 1L and 2L year is the level of expectation of the professors.  Your first year, you may feel as though you are back in kindergarten with someone holding your hand along the way.  Once 2L year comes along, most professors have heightened expectations and assume you know how to write a legal paper, how to respond in class when cold called, etc..
Remember that, in 1L year, everyone in your class is new to law school.  The professors don’t expect you to always have the right answer when they cold call on you . . . at least most don’t.  Additionally, your professors don’t expect you to know how to draft a legal memorandum. During your 1L year of law school, your professors may ask you to brief a case, or write a memo, with no direction.  This is simply a “test” to see how you react under pressure. After all, most partners at a law firm are not going to tell you exactly what they are looking for when you have an assignment to complete. While you may not be given much direction, it is always okay to ask the professor for more detailed instructions.  The worst that can happen is that the professor says, “I don’t have any other instructions.”
Your second year in law school will get better, however, the expectations of your professors will rise.  During your second year of law school, you will have more work to complete, you will be expected to know how to brief cases, and you will be expected to know how to apply the law to facts the professor provides to you in hypotheticals.  You will likely see the amount of reading increase for your second year of law school, but you will also know how to complete readings in a shorter amount of time. While expectations may increase during your second year of law school, just remember that you made it through the hardest year of law school.

3. Activities/Experience 

Many students come to law school asking about what clubs they can join, where they can find jobs on campus, and what activities are open to 1L students.  You will quickly learn that in law school, activities are not tailored towards 1L students. In fact, many organizations require that you are at least in your second semester of law school before getting involved.  You may ask, why don’t law schools let 1L students participate in activities? This is a valid question. The reason most law schools don’t allow or don’t encourage students to participate in extra-curricular activities during their first year of law school is because the law school wants you to focus on doing well in class and getting good grades.  Because your first year grades are incredibly important to obtain summer associate positions, most law schools strongly encourage students not to work during their first year of law school. While there are few events and organizations that permit 1L students to participate, it is recommended to not get too involved. The important of your 1L year grades cannot be stressed enough!
So you start your second year, and now you are bombarded with organizations looking for members, in addition to having stacks of books to read for class.  What should you do? While class should always comes first (I know I sound like your mother), employers like to see that you have legal experience and are involved in some organization(s) on campus.  Employers often look for whether their job applicants have law review and/or journal experience. Additionally, employers like to see that you have some legal experience. Therefore, during your second year of law school, you may choose to work as a law clerk at a law firm.  Law firms are often willing to hire law school students to do their legal research at a cheap rate!

While your 2L year of law school can be just as stressful as your first year due to the amount of work and experience you are expected to do, just remember that you are over one-third of the way through law school and will be a lawyer before you know it!

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  1. I'm well past this point (Newly admitted attorney), but I will forward this along to my mentee.
    You can do it.

    1. Congrats on being admitted! Hopefully I'll be saying that soon too ;) Hope your mentee likes the blog!


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