Sunday, June 16, 2013


Lots of people have advice for entering students. Since the messages come from many people with many perspectives, you'll find they sometimes contradict each other (e.g., "always go to class prepared" versus "don't bother buying the casebook"). Obviously, you can't follow all the advice. But go ahead and take a look at it. Make some judgments about what makes sense and what will work for you.

Here's an assortment of advice to entering students from the Web. For an earlier collection, see our blog post, Advice for Entering Students, June 27, 2011.

Law professor Paul Horwitz's Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here; Or, My Advice to First-Years, PrawfsBlawg, Aug. 18, 2011, includes paragraphs on these points:
  1. The Economy is Terrible.
  2. You Are Enrolled in "Job-Hunting and the Law."  
  3. It's Your Money and Your Degree. 
  4. Nobody Gets Hurt, Nobody Gets Arrested.  
  5. Stop Worrying About Competitive Advantage. 
  6. Legal Research and Writing is Your Most Important Class.
  7. Find Your Own Way to Find Joy in Law School.  
  8. Don't Hate Shortcuts But Don't Make Law School All About Them Either.  
  9. Use Clinics and Adjuncts. 
Susan Gainen on Lawyerist has a shorter list: 4 Rules to Manage First Year of Law School, Aug. 16, 2011:
  1. Get to know your classmates. Some will be your friends for life. 
  2. Coursework: Legal Writing is the most important class you will ever take. 
  3. The Law Library and Legal Research: Harnessing a 17th century skill in a 21st century box.
  4. Career Services: Use your time wisely.
The Law School Academic Support Blog asks What makes law school so different for many new students? and answers (June 28, 2011):
  • Active learning is required instead of passive learning. 
  • One grade is the norm rather than multiple grades in a course. 
  • "It depends" is the response rather than finding the right answer to a question. 
  • Professors expect them to learn the basics before class and continue to analyze material after class. 
  • Learning the law is only the beginning and not the end of the process. 
  • Law school requires many more hours of studying outside of class.
Law School Academic Success also offers The Road to Success, Aug. 6, 2011, and Managing Stress and Anxiety, July 29, 2011.

Legal Skills Prof Blog recommends 5 CALI lessons (self-paced online learning) to incoming students in CALI Lessons – Great Learning Tool for Law Students, Aug. 15, 2011. (UW law students can contact the Reference Office to get our access code for CALI.)

Ms. JD, the website of the National Women Law Students' Organization has a page of Resources for 1Ls.

Twin Cities Diversity in Practice (a group of law firms and corporate legal departments) lists 8 Tips for Success in Your First Year of Law School , Break into Law, Sept. 12, 2012.

Once you get to your first class, you need to sit somewhere, but where? Law Student Ally discusses Where Should I Sit?, March 13, 2012. As you might guess from the name, the Law Student Ally blog has lots of advice for law students. (Law Student Ally's business is matching law students with law school grads to coach and support them. You can read the blog free, but hiring a personal coach will cost you.)
An anonymous blogger (Dr. Juris) offered Advice for Incoming 1Ls, Aug. 8, 2011. This is irreverent and spiked with coarse language; it includes advice about sex and drinking as well as about studying. The same blogger has more advice in The Moment of "Truth", Jan. 8, 2012 (she bombed her first semester exams but turned it around) and Happiness and the Law ... This is Possible!, May 24, 2011.

After all this advice, let's just add: remember that the Law Library is a great resource for you. Get together with a study group in a group study room, study alone in a quiet carrel or at a big table, use our books and databases, and talk to a reference librarian whenever you'd like some research pointers.

Hat tip: Rob Truman, Paul L. Boley Law Library.

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