Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Things I Wish I'd Known: 2L

By 2L year you might feel like a seasoned pro, but there are more differences than you might realize when it comes down to it. You've probably (hopefully) worked over the summer and had first hand experience with much more than what you might have ever been able to learn in class. However, there is still a whole world of information for you to learn, and eventually be tested on. Below are a few of things that I either wish I'd known or that I implemented into my plans during my 2L year.

1. Meet With Your Professors
This is still so important. I would say its more important to meet with your professors in 2L, rather than 1L, but I think the information and knowledge you get from the meetings as a 2L is more valuable. As a 2L you are generally much better at spotting issues and identifying the key information in a case, so when you meet with your professors you can ask deeper questions to really understand the material and the law. You have the ability to create realistic hypotheticals to discuss with your professor that will give you the ability to apply what you are learning to more situations that just what the case or book covers. I think this is extremely important because in the end almost every exam is a set of hypotheticals, so discussing hypos with your professor will help prepare you that much more.

2. Don't Over-Commit Yourself
I'm not sure about every school in the country, but I know the majority of law schools allow minimal if any involvement in groups, journals, and moot court teams as a 1L. So by the time you get to your 2L year you want to do everything. It is definitely possible, but just keep in mind the necessary balance. For example, if you are on a journal that has a note due in the fall, consider applying for moot court teams that are primarily active in the spring semester. You will talk to dozens of 2Ls and 3Ls that tell you it is possible to be involved on a journal and a moot court team, while also working. And it is, but I would just suggest remaining realistic about the activities that you commit yourself to. This is one (of many) times that it can be very helpful to talk to an older student. Some moot court teams and journals might require more or less work than others and that can be very important to know when you are considering what you want to apply for.

3. Keep Having Fun
The saying that they "work you do death" as a 2L is partly true. But luckily as a 2L you have gotten much more efficient in your reading, so the work increases, but so does your ability to complete it. I know a lot of people who have let Law Review or more difficult classes take over their lives. While it is very important to continue applying yourself and meeting the commitments that you have made, it is still important to maintain a balance. If you let classes and work bog down your entire 2L year, I can guarantee you will regret it. Even if it just saying yes to a Friday night movie or drinks on a Saturday, just say yes and work hard during the week so that you don't feel guilty going out. It is possible, I promise.

4. Start Looking for a Job Earlier than You Think You Need To
Ugh. The dreaded job search. Aside from grades, this might honestly be the most stressful part of law school. You start talking about it from day one, but there are rules that don't let you really talk to any one at school about it until November, so you're left with tons of questions. By 2L hopefully you've had a summer job, or at least an internship that has given you a) a feel for what you like and don't, but also b) some experience. It always seems to be this Catch 22, everyone wants you to have experience, but no one will hire you to give you experience. Obviously everyone has their own opinion and ideas on what works, but I think it can be so important to do your best to get some kind of law related job as soon as you get a chance. Even if it ends up not being what you want to do for the rest of your life, it is something, something that gives you experience, something that gives you a line on your resume, and hopefully something that gives you a reference for future jobs. It can seem like a daunting task to add to your list of things to do as a 2L, but the summer after your 2L can be make or break and lead to a great opportunity post law school. All of that being said, don't stress your year away worrying about it. Be smart and use the resources at your school.  I've found making your professors and faculty aware that you are looking for a job can be so important because when one of their colleagues asks for a recommendation, they can point that person to you. I had more than my fair share of interviews, but something finally panned out and I couldn't be happier.

5. Take Classes You're Interested In
Taking classes you are interested in can be a life saver. When classes and journal and the job search start to become overwhelming it is really nice to know that there is at least one class that you are looking forward to reading for, well kind of. 1L year was difficult for everyone because we all went in pretty much blind, but by the time you're a 2L you have choices, you can choose to take a professor you really liked and, perhaps more importantly, choose not to take take a professor you didn't like as well. Or take advantage of that History major you had and take Legal History, or a Finance major might enjoy Business Organizations and Tax Law more than those who don't love numbers. Just think about what you like and obviously what works best for your overall schedule, but take something that you just might enjoy instead of necessarily taking what all of your friends are taking, its worth it.

There are dozens of other things I might tell a rising 2L, but those are really the things that I wish I'd known, or appreciated during my second year of law school. It is definitely hard, but it can be so fun and rewarding as long as you plan carefully. Plus as a 2L you don't have the fear of the bar exam - yet!

Have a great day, y'all!

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