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Managing 2L Year (Tips that Work from a Current Student)

Managing 2L Year was written by Rachel Sims.

Rachel is a first-generation rising 3L at The University of Alabama Law School. As a first-gen student, Rachel is taking the firsthand lessons and knowledge she learned through law school and sharing them with incoming law students. Rachel has been updating her journey via her Instagram (@icantiminlawschool) and her blog.

So you’ve finally finished 1L, taken the summer away from your studies, and you’re back to crush 2L year…

Whether you had a stellar 1L year and want to keep on track, or whether you’re trying to really shine as a 2L, you are going to love the craziness of your second year of law school. Now that you’re a 2L, you’ll be able to participate in your law school’s organizations, journals, competition teams, and so much more! The key to a fun, but successful, 2L is year time management.

With so many possibilities in front of you, it is easy to get overwhelmed or overcommitted your 2L year. But have no fear! We’ve provided a few simple tips for keeping your 2L year manageable and hassle-free…

Related: 6 Easy Tips to Excel in Law School

Don’t Slack On Your Studies

One of the things most rising 2Ls worry about is falling behind in their studies. With a whole new world of opportunities outside of studies available to you, it is easy to get caught up in everything except your classes.

2L and 3L classes are structured much differently than your 1L classes. Some professors don’t require attendance, some have projects due, and others don’t even have final exams!

The first thing you should do when you get your schedule is ask yourself if it is manageable. Since this is your first semester taking non-doctrinal courses, it might help to register for a pass/fail class to take some weight off of your shoulders. If you decide instead to keep a full graded schedule, familiarize yourself with your syllabi and professors.

Also, make sure you schedule enough time to read for your classes. Some classes may require you to read 150 pages each week, while others could be as little as 15 or 20. Knowing what your professor expects from you at the beginning can help you get an idea of what your schedule can look like, and can actually help you be more flexible.

Set Goals & Prioritize

At the beginning of your 2L year, sit down with yourself and ask what your goals are. Do you want to get all As? Are you more interested in winning a moot court competition? What kind of classes will you be taking? Consider all of the different factors that could influence your schedule this year, and write them down! Once you see all of the different interests and commitments you have, you will have a much better idea of how to manage those.

I also recommend you write down three goals for yourself. For example, my 2L fall goals were: All As, focus on hitting the gym, and taking time for my family and friends. Yours could be: meditating daily, all As (or As and Bs or whatever you desire), and eating better foods.

I really recommend having non-school goals in your top three, because you will not have a successful year if you don’t have a successful connection with yourself. Without taking care of your most basic needs like food, exercise, and connection, you will only make it harder for yourself to take care of your classwork.

Have a Weekly Meeting with Yourself

My legal writing professor told us that she has a “check in” with herself every Sunday night. This is a habit I have adopted and that has changed my life!

Pick a time that works for you, I prefer Sunday nights because I consider that to be the beginning of my “work” week. Use that time – it only needs to be 10 or 15 minutes – to look ahead at your week. As I’m sure you’ve figured out, a lot of law school involves taking personal responsibility and setting your own deadlines.

So just because you don’t have anything due one week, doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to do. Maybe you have a Wednesday class with a ton of reading, so you should consider when you’ll get that done. Maybe split it between Monday and Tuesday? Or do it all Tuesday? Little decisions like these can be planned ahead and make your life so much easier.

Once I started practicing this my life got a whole lot easier. For example, I had a class fall of 2L that met once a week but required a ton of reading. At my weekly meeting with myself, I planned out how I could split that reading up the days before my class so that I wasn’t scrambling to read 120 pages all in one night. This helped me not only come to class prepared, but avoid hours of last-minute reading the night before (or day of)!

Related: Seven Things Nobody Tells you About Law School

Schedule Time For You

Similar to what we said when setting your goals, you cannot be successful if you don’t feel successful! If you are an avid runner, you need to schedule a run in somewhere! If you relax by spending time with your pet, schedule in a half hour block one day for cuddling on the couch.

Moments with yourself don’t have to take hours or days, but even a 30-minute break can give you some relief from your stress and also ensure that you are getting the you-time that you need to succeed.

So: don’t slack on your studies; set goals and prioritize them; have a weekly meeting with yourself; and schedule time for you. These four tips helped me succeed my 2L year. I got all As my fall semester, received multiple job offers my 2L year, and eventually landed myself a firm job and corporate externship for the summer after 2L. None of that would have been possible if I hadn’t stayed focused on my goals, took care of my own needs, and stayed persistent.

2L year is nothing like any other school year you have experienced. You will learn a lot and definitely be put to the test, but don’t ever forget your reason why. Good luck!

Related: Five Quick and Easy Tips for Law School Success

If you liked Managing 2L Year (Tips that Work from a Current Student)

Be sure to check out Rachel’s amazing blog and visit her on Instagram! She has excellent tips and advice!

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