Law school is a beast! It will chew you up and spit you out. You need a smart approach to successfully make it through law school. One thing I learned the hard way is not to over-study!
The best way to prevent over-studying is to stay active. When I say “stay active”, I am not solely referring to exercise.
Although exercise is important, there are other activities you should add to your law school routine:
Volunteer – Seek out a legal association where you can volunteer. It is always an invaluable experience, and volunteering gives you an opportunity to learn outside the classroom. Also, volunteering enables you to network, which could lead to a job once you graduate.
Socializing – Make time to socialize and network with the students at your school (especially those who will graduate before you). Talk to them about their experiences and what they wish they had done differently. You can learn a lot. Additionally, these students are graduating before you and may be able to assist you with employment once you graduate. Many students overlook the benefit of networking with their colleagues.
On Campus Organizations – Join some of your law school’s organizations. But, do not join too many. Over-commitment may appear to employers like you just want something on your resume. What does it really look like to a recruiter when you have listed 4 to 10 different organizations on your resume, with your title being “Member”? I will tell you what it looks like; it looks like you did not dedicate enough time to a single organization, and it looks like you have no leadership skills because you never took on any responsibility. (With this said, I do caution 1Ls not to take on too much responsibility their first year. You are still getting your sea legs.)
Unless you attend one of the few top-14 law schools that have adopted pass/fail grading system, you may suffer from anxiety due to your competitive surroundings. However, I can tell you from experience that studying all the time will not relieve your anxiety. You may end up with a good grade; but what you have to go through to get there is not good for your health, and you will have missed out on many other opportunities.
I studied the most during my first semester in law school (about 50 hours a week, in addition to attending classes) and I made A’s and low B’s. My routine the first semester was to eat (which is really an overstatement because my meals consisted either of ramen, chicken breast, or bowls of cereal), study, sleep, go to school, and repeat. I eventually changed my law school lifestyle and my grades improved every semester. By the end of law school, I was getting all A’s. What did I change? I became active. I visited my family, I hung out with friends, I exercised, I joined organizations, and I began to eat really well. While, I do not believe that many students are as naïve as I was during my first semester in law school. I know that many law students do not take care of themselves the way they should. I am lending my advice to those students.
I know that being active is difficult, especially during your first year in law school. Trust me, though, when I say that the time goes by very fast. You will eventually reach your last year in law school and wonder where the time went. Our economy is not doing well. Thus, with less job openings and more unemployed attorneys/recent law grads, grades are not the only important factor to consider. Don’t keep your head in the books so much that you miss what is going on around you, including job opportunities. Make the best use of your time in law school. Study, but do not forget to “BE ACTIVE.”