Read on for some quick and simple resources for first-year and pre-law students to help you reach your goals during 1L year.
Number One: JD Advising
JD Advising is an excellent resource for aspiring and current law students. With programs ranging from pre-law to bar preparation, they have you covered.
Their blog is a great place to start. Its content covers every question a law or pre-law student could possibly have. If you can think it, they’ve likely answered it.
Even better, JD Advising offers a free guide on how to succeed in law school! This is a great read for pre- and first-year law students. If you’ve already finished your first semester and have a goal of scoring higher second semester, check out Part 2: An Overview of How to Succeed on Final Exams.
Number Two: Summer Reading Lists
Many law schools provide or otherwise publish a list of optional summer reading to their incoming students. But if you are eager to start reading now, the American Bar Association for Law Students has a fairly exhaustive list.
I don’t recommend reading all of them. You should have some fun before you start law school! The two books that helped me the most before and during law school are: (The below section contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you. This helps me to continue to create content, and these opinions remain my own.)
- Getting to Maybe: This book probably saved my first-year grades. It taught me how to write a law school exam, which is very different from an undergraduate writing assignment or essay. In law school, your essays should meander down the path to maybe, pointing out potential arguments and stating whether they are likely to fail or succeed. It’s a different way of writing, so it is worth investing time to learn what your professor expects.
- The Elements of Style: If you’ve not yet read this book, I can’t recommend it enough. It strengthened my writing skills and helped me excel in my first-year legal research and writing course.
Both of these books are fairly quick reads, so I recommend taking a look!
Number Three: Study Groups
I joined a study group my 1L year, and it was … helpful … in ways that I didn’t expect. I recommend studying the way that makes sense and works best for you. For me, that was typically studying solo.
However, I learned a lot from my study group. They kept me informed on things that were going on in the law school that I might have missed while my head was in my books. And because I’m a first-generation professional, and some of the group members were not, they advised me on some things that I wouldn’t have otherwise known.
I recommend joining a study group to expand your social circle. Then go from there. Figure out whether you study better solo or in a group. Everyone is different. For me, 25% group study/75% solo study worked. But you might be different. Embrace it!
Number Four: Multiple Choice Practice
Law school multiple choice is weird. Each question asks you to live in a hypothetical universe where you can only assume the facts in front of you. It’s antithetical to what law students are asked to do on essay examinations.
Personally, I think multiple choice has no place in the law, but it is tested on the Multistate Bar Examination. So law school professors routinely use it as a testing mechanism.
Quimbee, Cali, and other companies offer multiple choice practice questions, but many schools subscribe to these services. So they are complementary to their students. Check with your school to see what study aids are available at no cost to you.
Additionally, most schools provide previous examinations and model answers.
Number Five: Career and Professional Development Office
As an undergraduate student, I didn’t use my school’s career services office. But law school is different. We all come to law school to get a job. Most law school career offices only hire licensed attorneys who have experience in the field in which they are counseling.
I formerly directed an On-Campus Interview (“OCI”) Program at a top 100 law school, and I can tell you firsthand that the students who visited our office fared far better than those who did not, especially during OCI.
I authored the On-Campus Interview Success Series, which I hope you will find to be one of the most useful tools in your arsenal as you prepare for OCI.
Buy your career advisors also have inside information. They likely know hiring partners and recruiters from the firms (or other legal employers) that interest you. So they know the type of student the employer seeks to hire, and what qualities those employers are looking for in law students.
Spend some time getting to know your career advisors, as you should use all your resources. But also remember, they are likely busy juggling multiple students, and this is your career. Take control; you got this!