I found out that tonight starts the orientation for the new class at UConn Law. The Internet is full of advice for new law students, but I figured that my recent experience might help people that are still getting their bearings. Below are ten pieces of advice that I think might help. Good luck!
1. Don’t be afraid to quit. Law school should not be prison. It’s tough work but you should not be miserable. You can blow just as much money being happy as hell. I have a couple of friends who bailed on law school after a semester. They lived and are doing well.
2. Lock-in your Kaplan or BarBri rate. Kaplan is just as good as BarBri. You’ll thank yourself three years from now. Even better if you sign-up to be a BarBri or Kaplan rep to get a free course.
3. Check the Co-Op, half.com, and Amazon for textbooks. Be a savvy shopper. If you are buying a new edition the UConn Co-Op is often competitive with the online outlets. If you are buying used then half.com and amazon are your best bets. You can check out the book form the library in the meantime.
4. Brief your cases. Law school is a mental endurance sport. You only get better through practice. Many classmates will buy and use commercial outlines. You don’t need those. If you need a case brief or additional information it’s all free on the Internet or WestLaw. If you still really need a hornbook or something to explain the subject then it’s free at the law library. BarBri also has free materials and lectures available as well.
5. Learn how to format properly using Microsoft Word. It’ll save you headaches later. This document has some advice on making a table of authorities. Use the styles and headings at the top of Microsoft Word to mark your sections and make a table of contents. Buy a copy of Typography for Lawyers.
6. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is still applicable. You should buy a copy if you do not own it already.
7. Downtime and sleep should not be neglected. Friday and Saturday nights you should relax. Try and get some walking or other exercise in. You do not want to burn out.
8. Attend as many events as you can. Your student fee pays for them, the food is usually free, and you meet interesting people and learn new things.
9. Do the write-on next summer. Join a law journal. It’s worth it, if only to have a place to go on campus and built-in group of people to lean on.
10. Force yourself to do some things you are not comfortable with. If you do moot court or mock trials it will help you understand other things later. Not everyone gets on moot court board but you will not be worse off by participating in these competitions.
The My Advice to New Law Students by Matt Zagaja, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.