Tips for Preparing for Your First Year of Law School

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A short primer on what to expect during 1L

The first few days of law school can be overwhelming. You are suddenly cast into a room with dozens of other students who you have never met, from a wide variety of programs and schools all across the country. These are the people who you will suffer with and compete against for the next three years, and the people who will become your colleagues for the rest of your legal career. As you begin making your way through the crowd, you realize that they are all intelligent and accomplished in their own right. Further, you will likely be one of the few, or even the only black person in your year, making the room feel all the more uncomfortable.

So how can you prepare for this moment? Here are three things you can do before starting law school to mentally prepare for this new chapter. These suggestions don’t involve extra reading or practicing your writing skills, although sharpening those skills can’t hurt.

First, and I believe most importantly, know yourself. Why did you come to law school? Knowing and remembering why you chose this path will be helpful on the days when you feel overwhelmed. Know your strengths when you start law school, but more importantly know your weaknesses and commit to working on them. This will help you navigate the academic and social pressures of law school and become a better student and eventually, a better lawyer.

Second, connect with upper year students to get an idea of what things are like at your school. A great way to connect with upper year students is to get involved with your local Black Law Student Association. Not only will you get an idea of what the school is like, you will get the perspective from a fellow black law student who understands what it is like to be black and be a
first year.

Third, build healthy habits over the summer that you can carry into the school year. Law school is an intense experience so developing a routine that helps relieve stress is a great way to stay well. Whether that be working out, practicing mindfulness, or socializing with family and friends, develop a routine that you know you can turn to when things get stressful.

Law school is a fun, challenging, life-changing experience. I hope these words reinforce that you can be successful. Growth is often uncomfortable, and that is okay, but in those moments remember who you are and why you chose to attend law school. Congratulations on starting 1L, and welcome to the legal profession.

Shequille Rollocks, National Director of Advocacy

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