Month: August 2021

Three Tips for Success in Law School

  1. Don’t overcommit yourself

I could have benefited from following this advice, and this is the most important thing to remember in law school: you don’t have to be involved in everything. I was excited to be a law student and wanted to be involved in every organization I cared about or thought would be good to be involved in. I took on an ASF role, a research assistant job, and an internship for the fall semester of my second year, all in addition to the several student organizations and outside of school responsibilities I had. Well, guess what? That semester was my worst academically, and I was exhausted by the time finals rolled around. The way to fix it? Scale back and focus on a few areas that will really help you become a better person and attorney.

For me, I had a law job that I loved outside of school, so I kept it and I made sure that my effort there paid off. I learned so much more once I refocused than when I was stressed and overworked. Another reason to focus on an outside of school job? It could lead to something down the road. Your ASF work and on-campus jobs really limit you to success during law school, a line on a resume, and a professor recommendation. These are definitely important, but if you have to choose between a job that could turn permanent down the road and that student organization, focus on the job that helps you develop marketable skills you will need after school. I did, and I’m grateful for it.

2. Building Relationships is Important

Building relationships is the key to being happy in law school, staying the course, and earning your first job after passing the bar. First, getting to know your classmates is an important part of making it through law school. They understand what it’s like as a law student because they’re going through it with you. They form your study groups, help fill in gaps in your outline, and might even whisper the answer to a cold call. Either way, it’s better to go through law school with your classmates than to go it alone. It’s also important to build relationships with professors who can help counsel and mentor you as you navigate these three years. Professors were law students once too, and they often have great insight into how to navigate your particular law school. Building relationships is also what will help you earn your first job after school. It’s nice to have career services offered through school, but blindly sending your resume to hundreds of places doesn’t necessarily help you any better than finding a few really good places that you’d like to work. Every internship and job you have in the legal field is an opportunity to learn from attorneys and staff who are all looking to help people just starting in the legal field. Attorneys like to hire people they know and trust. The way you interact with professionals in the legal community will speak volumes to potential employers as to whether you are a good fit for them. Work on building relationships professionally throughout law school, and it will only help you when it comes time to find work.

3. Don’t Forget to have a Personal Life

It’s easy to get caught up in all the chaos of being a law student, but don’t just look at law school as three years of your life you will never get back. It most likely won’t be the best three years of your life–your classes may not interest you, you might have a few embarrassing cold call moments, and you won’t have any multiple choice exams–but they don’t have to be the worst three years of your life either. Look for opportunities to find personal growth and enjoy yourself outside of the classroom. It’s important not to let law school define who you are and to remember what you like to do other than study. If you enjoy reading for pleasure, make time to do it between chapters of Property Law. If you enjoy playing a round of golf, go out and don’t worry about three-putting. There is always more you can do to be a better law student–you can always read more, outline more, or start memorizing things for your finals earlier–but don’t forget to have a school-life balance that grounds you because that will help you keep your footing for the entire journey of law school.

A Final Thought

They say that law school is a marathon and not a sprint. I look at law school the same way I look at trips across the Pennsylvania Turnpike–exit by exit. Some exits inexplicably are 36 miles apart with a tunnel in the middle and no way out but through (looking at you, Somerset and Bedford), but you have to keep pressing on until the next rest stop. It’s important never to lose sight of the final destination, but it’s also important to take it one piece at a time.

When I started my first year, it made me crazy to think about being a 3L or studying for the bar. The best thing I did was set little mile markers and be glad when I got to each one. Trust me, you’ll get through it if you pace yourself and know that you don’t have to take the bar until you get through all the other pieces of school.

Enjoy the ride. It’ll be over before you know it.

Make the Most of Your Internships

This summer, I was able to work two internships, one for school at Widener’s clinic and the other with a professor of mine working on research. Towards the end of the spring semester I was scrambling trying to find an internship, and I was able to connect with a professor after just talking after class and the clinic presented as a good opportunity for me to satisfy my experiential requirements for school.

I was trying to work with connections I had back home for a summer internship hopefully as a job and definitely as a source for experience, since being only in the classroom so far hasn’t provided the most amount of real-world law practice. While I was in the middle of searching with the help of a family friend at home, I stayed back after my Copyright & Trademark class with my professor to ask questions, which turned into her asking about my summer. I explained my situation and she offered me a spot to help out with a project for her this summer working with her firm. I was able to learn a lot more about Trademark law which I became very interested in from her class, and make a connection with a professor willing to help me with the job search after school. I learned that it is incredibly important and can be extremely helpful to speak with your professors, since you never know what can come from it.

For the clinic, I knew that it was an option that existed for me to obtain my experiential credits out of the classroom and I was unsure what to expect. During the seven weeks there in the summer semester, I got more out of the experience than I thought I would. I learned a lot about different areas of law and how they work, but more importantly about working with other interns and bouncing ideas off of each other proved very helpful. Additionally, we were all able to help each other out figuring out what next steps to take in our case, drafting documents, and breaking down cases with each other, and we simply worked very well together. The experience there taught me a lot about what I want to look for in a firm when I’m job searching, and I’m glad I had other students with me to go through that experience with.

The summer was definitely difficult managing both of these internships as well as a class, but like every semester it always works out and the work gets done. I’m glad I took advantage of both of these opportunities and got a lot out of them both.