I had the great pleasure of meeting some of the promising members of the incoming class of 1L’s at the Applicant Preview Day held on the Harrisburg campus on April 17th. Some of the attendees asked some pointed questions regarding what to expect in law school, and how best to prepare for it during the summer before classes begin.
First and foremost, enjoy your summer. Although I myself bought books that had general overviews of first year classes (torts, contracts, property, civil procedure, etc.), they didn’t prepare me for what was in store. What they did do was foster anxiety as to my capabilities because I didn’t fully understand what the books were talking about. I also didn’t know that not knowing what property (for example) entails, based on a 20 page summary, is to be expected. The text we use in property is over 1,000 pages long and people are still confused as to what certain aspects of property law encompass. If you decide that those “what to expect as a 1L” books are what you’d like to peruse as light reading, go ahead, but make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed because all the concepts will be expanded upon over the next 8~9 months.
Also, reflect on who you are, and who you want to be with a J.D. As I’m sure you’ve all heard, law school trains students to think like a lawyer. But please don’t learn to think like a lawyer to the detriment of your common sense and empathy. Don’t let law school alter your convictions or your ideals (unless they’re patently wrong), but also be open to alternative perspectives. Remember that individual experiences have made you and your classmates unique, and those experiences are ultimately who you are, not what the two initials after your name stand for. It goes without saying that your grades do not reflect who you are as a person, either.
Finally, enjoy the company of your family and friends and prepare yourself to become a nerd. The first two semesters of law school are so intense that you’ll quickly realize social opportunities are greatly diminished. Take the summer to spend time with family and friends, but also let them know that the next chapter of your life requires that you forego most socializing, so do as much of it as you can, while you can. Don’t feel bad about being a nerd once school starts. Everybody that succeeds in law school have their noses in their books more often than not. Weekends are just weekdays without classes. So be ready to work your butt off.
As for me, finals are 5 days away, so if I’m lax on blogging, please cut me some slack because my professors won’t…