Revised and reposted from What I Wish I’d Known As A 1L, published on June 14, 2011
For 1Ls, their first weeks of law school probably seem like an overwhelming blur, attending classes, learning terminology, discovering why all the older students “dread the bluebook.” While this essay won’t make checking those citations any less tedious, its intent is to give a few pointers that may help new law students in their long-term law school studies. Below are some of the tips I wish someone had told me the first few weeks; and I welcome people to add their own suggestions to the list by commenting at the end of the article.
Barbri, Kaplan, Adaptibar:
The above listed courses are the biggest names in bar preparation; if you have not heard of them yet, you will certainly know them all very well after your stint in law school. Each company offers a myriad of study aids and incentives for signing up with them. Find out as much as you can, as early as possible.
What every rising 1L should know – even as a 1L you can work as a representative for the companies. Representatives can earn themselves FREE bar prep classes (+$2,500 value) and get paid once they meet a certain quota. If I started law school over, I would sign up as a representative immediately.
These two companies are online research databases which law students and lawyers use to conduct legal research. In much the same way as the bar prep courses, each company employs students to act as representatives and conduct training sessions. Here, the training sessions are key. Both LexisNexis and Westlaw offer free training classes to students to teach them to use the company’s database. Every law firm I have ever worked for completely relies on one of these databases, therefore it is in a student’s best interest to attend these training programs and get as familiar with both systems as possible.
FREE ALERT: Also, both LexisNexis and Westlaw offer students rewards programs. They give students points to do research and take training classes. Why is this cool? Because students can get free swag. By the time I graduated from law school, Westlaw delivered 10 movies and a Juicer; LexisNexis gave me over a $100 worth of gift cards which I used at Darden restaurants as my law school roommate and I road-tripped across america. (Tweet me @SarahEliMattern if you want to hear where all we went!!)
Regardless of what you spend your points on, why wouldn’t anyone want free stuff for research you have to do anyway? Just my opinion.
On Campus Seminars:
On the subject of “free:” very few things bother me more than when people don’t take advantage of a great opportunity that someone has handed to them. Go to the seminars your school offers. I repeat,Go To The Seminars Your School Offers. Go to the mock interviews, the resume building, exam writing, bar prep, and career information sessions which your school includes in your tuition.
First year in law school is hard, confusing, frustrating, and exhausting. The entire law school experience, though, goes by in a flash. As a 1L, the “need to study” often tempts students away from attending lectures and seminars. However, with the job market in the gutter, students need to start networking and building their resume during their 1L year rather than waiting until they graduate.