Congrats to those of you launching your law school careers this month! As you navigate orientation and the heady first few days of classes, we thought it’d be a good time to share some advice—and an opportunity—from our Pre-L/1L Success team.
In our experience, 1L kickoff brings with it as much anxiety and confusion as it does a sense of excitement and possibility. Between new professors, new classmates, a new university (for many), and all the things in between, it’s easy for incoming law students to get lost in the bigness of it all. Here are a few steps to take to manage stress and concentrate all that energy on thriving:
Have a plan for tending to your mental health and well-being. Specifically, reflect on what is helpful for you to prioritize in each of the five domains of well-being:
- Your environment (How can you control your surroundings and maximize focus?)
- Your productivity (What are your biggest challenges for time management, and how can you overcome/optimize?)
- Your self-care (What brings you some peace or joy... what calms you?)
- Your self-talk (How are you speaking to yourself in your head? While many people believe self-criticism drives them forward, research shows that self-compassion is actually a FAR more effective motivator!)
- Your support network (Who are the support people you’ll lean on, and who in the law school administration might be a support?)
- Want more? Check out our podcast on reducing stress in the law school environment.
Related to one aspect of the above, try to schedule out your work week. Law school is a far less structured learning environment than just about all of you are used to. Without the forced deadlines of papers, quizzes, problem sets, and the like, students may struggle organizing their time and prioritizing work. Take a big bite out of this uncertainty by creating a schedule. Start with lecture times; layer in reading time (generally at a 2:1 ratio to class time) and blocks to complete LRW work (which can take longer than you think!). Leave some time to review and consolidate class notes. Don’t forget to budget for the hidden curriculum of reviewing supplements, hitting office hours to resolve confusion, outlining, and doing practice questions; this likely will spill into weekend time for many. Eventually, as your semester progresses, you’ll fold in student groups and career development obligations. Without a plan for tending to each of these items, 1L can seem more chaotic than it needs to be. And don’t forget to reserve periods of the day to decompress and rest—the semester is a marathon!
And a word on the marathon aspect: Run your own race. There are no sophomores in your class; everyone is doing this for the first time. It’s tempting to look around and adopt strategies and techniques that others seem so sure about. Remember that you got there for a reason, and you know yourself as a learner. Try to crowd out the noise and focus on what works for you (as long as that focus includes at least some practice exams!).
To help with the rigors of law school and provide accountability throughout the semester, we are excited to resume our 1L Success Coaching Program for students who want support throughout the coming semester and beyond.
Our 1:1 sessions—led by coaches Rob Cacace and Jordana Confino—target strategies to help you hone foundational study skills, maintain your well-being, and manage your time effectively in law school. It’s no secret that law school can be a stressful experience, and a significant part of that stress comes from being in a new academic environment where much of the learning is self-directed, and where you’re required to balance many competing demands. In the success coaching program, we’ll teach you how to work smarter, not harder, help you set a schedule, and check in on your progress so that you can not just survive but thrive in your first year of law school.
The program includes a series of sessions covering:
- Foundational Support: best practices for briefing, outlining, and exam prep (for clients who have not worked with us on academic prep before law school)
- The Basics: self-care and time management
- Game Plan: developing a detailed attack plan for your work
- Carve it Out: setting aside time for outlining and practice work
- Balancing Act: managing All the Things... plus coursework
- Go Time: devising a strategy for reading period
For those seeking additional support, we also offer optional add-on sessions with a more targeted focus on briefing cases, outlining, and exam-taking strategies. If you are interested in learning more or reserving a spot with one of our coaches, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we would be happy to set you up with a free initial consultation!