8 Pieces of Advice for Future 1Ls
Last Monday, I wrote my last exam and finished the most intense academic year of my life: 1L. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, “1L” is law school lingo for first year law.
Now that I’m free from studying, I’ve had a chance to reflect on the past 8 months, and have some words of wisdom for those of you who may be starting law school in September. However, even if you’re not in law school, I think these tips are relevant to any program!
1. Enjoy the summer before first year.
The summer before 1L is one of your last chances to relax and be carefree. Maybe do some travelling! The summer before I started law school, I took trips to Hawaii and Switzerland.
Often students wonder if there are any readings they can do over the summer to prepare for September, but in my opinion the best thing you can do to prepare for first year is to relax and enjoy your summer. You will be doing plenty of law school readings soon enough!
2. Go to ALL the Orientation events.
First year Orientation will be one of the highlights of your school year, and there is an event almost every day! Orientation runs for two weeks, and some of the highlights of my orientation included a billiards night, formal dinner, and “the Incredible Race” (same idea as the Amazing Race) which took place downtown.
While it might seem exhausting, attending every event is a great idea because it’s a great way to get to know your classmates. Don’t skip a fun orientation event because you think you should finish your readings! You will be in a pass/fail course called “Legal Process” for your first two weeks, and pro tip: no one has ever failed.
3. Sign up for a law buddy.
In the summer before your first year, you will get an email or Facebook post about law buddy sign-up. The law buddy program is a chance for you to be matched up with an upper year law student who will provide you with advice, friendship and support when you need it.
You will take a short quiz, and the Law Students’ Society Social Coordinators will match you up with someone they think you will get along well with. Upper years are always eager to share their experiences with 1Ls, and often have helpful advice about exams, so you should definitely sign up! My law buddy has become one of my dearest friends at law school.
4. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Speaking from experience, comparing yourself to other law students can cause huge amounts of stress and insecurity. Everyone has their own study habits, so do what works best for you. Just because some of your classmates seem to be studying in the library 24/7 doesn’t mean that you have to.
5. Have a life outside of law school.
When you’re in law school, you might find yourself never leaving the “law bubble”: You study in the law building, you eat your lunch in the law building, and you’re always hanging out with your law school friends.
While this can be great, you might start to go crazy if you don’t have something outside of law school. This could be friends in town that aren’t classmates, or a sports league that you play with once a week.
6. Don’t freak out over the December exams.
All of the December exams, with the exception of one, are “help not hurt” midterms, which means they will only count towards your grade if you perform worse on the final exam.
During finals this month, I thought back to how stressed I was in December and it seemed silly. In my opinion, try to study hard and do the best you can on your midterms, but remember that it’s not a high-pressure situation! Most people end up doing better on their final exams, so their midterms don’t count.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There are fantastic academic, cultural and personal support resources at UVic Law, and you should not hesitate to use them. Through the Amicus Program you can get a free upper-year tutor to help you with classes you may be struggling with. This is SO helpful when you are preparing for exams!
We also have a wonderful counsellor, Dr. Janet Sheppard, to speak to about any personal concerns you may have, and a Cultural Support Coordinator to provide support for Indigenous and non-Indigenous law students.
8. Be kind to yourself.
Law school is tough. You’re going to need to work harder than you ever have before to get good grades. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. A’s are hard to come by in law school, and you will see lots of B’s on your transcript – that’s a great mark too!
But don’t forget that you’re not just a law student: you’re a person. You need to take care of yourself – get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, and make sure you have some time to unwind.
Law school is a marathon, not a sprint. Take study breaks and relaxation days to make sure you have the energy to get through the school year. You don’t want to burn yourself out!
If you will be starting your first year of law school in September, I wish you the best of luck with your studies! Feel free to ask me questions in the comments 🙂