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The One Thing to Accomplish Week One of Law School

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

There are a lot of Top 10 lists out there, but we’re giving you the one thing you should accomplish in your first week of law school.

Drumrollintroduce yourself to a 2L or 3L student at your school. Ask them if they (or one of their friends) took any of the professors you have and if they have a good outline they could share with you. (In law school, students create and study off an outline in each course, which captures the various legal rules discussed throughout the semester.)

Communicating with a 2L or 3L, and asking for outlines, tackles each of the main stressors of law school:

  1. Final exams – a student who had your professor already did the hard work of organizing all of the course’s content in a digestible form. Having an outline at the beginning of class gives you a head start on learning the law that will be tested on the final exam.

  2. Time Management – creating an outline from scratch is time-consuming. While there are benefits to creating your own outline, a better strategy is usually to start with an outline and modify it to work for you. Having an outline from the jump will make you better prepared for class (you’ll know what the main takeaways are before each class even starts) and you can take any class notes directly in the outline, for example, if there is a nuance you want to capture or if there has been a change in the law. That way, you save time by not duplicating notes that are already in your outline and you don’t have to incorporate your class notes into your outline because you did it one step.

  3. Feeling Socially Isolated – even before Covid-19, law students experienced more stress and depression than other graduate students. This is in part attributable to the highly competitive nature of law school and the new way of thinking that law school requires. With most law schools going virtual, it’s not surprising that feeling socially isolated is particularly pronounced now. Having a 2L or 3L you can turn to for friendship and advice will serve you well in the short and long run.

The first week of law school is hard enough already, so set a manageable goal: be prepared for class and introduce yourself to a 2L or 3L student. Although it may seem awkward to ask a relative stranger for their outlines, it’s a law school tradition and undoubtedly one that anyone you speak to took advantage of as well.

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