1. Seek out the help of 2L and 3L students during your first year
The first year of law school is busy and challenging. You are in a new place with new people, and often times don’t know what to expect from professors, classes, and exams. It is really important to find upper year students who can guide you through this phase of law school. From outlines for classes to advice on your 1L summer job search, 2L and 3L students have been through all of it. They have been accepted and rejected from jobs, journals, and student organization boards. They have tested out different study techniques and taken a variety of classes with some of your 1L professors. Meet them early, and don’t be afraid to ask for guidance.
2. Rejuvenate Yourself
During 1L, it’s important to seek out personal and recreational outlets that re-energize you. You have limited time during 1L year to allow your mental space to drift away from law school and classes and interviews, etc. Use that time wisely. Whether it’s with your family, or playing a sport, or singing in a local choir, don’t forget the things and people that kept you afloat before you came to law school. And lean on them in your first year.
3. Get out of the Classroom
My professors at CLS have been top-notch, and my classmates are some of the most intelligent, articulate people I’ve interacted with. Yet, there is only so much you can learn in the classroom. In my 2L year, I have had the opportunity to participate in a clinic and work part-time at a small plaintiff-side employment firm. I’ve had the chance to work with real parties on real legal issues, and develop practical skills that I’ll use for years. The opportunity to get out of the classroom and into the field has also given me clarity about my professional goals and trajectory. Through the mediation clinic this past fall, I discovered that I’d like to work in the intersection of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Employment Discrimination issues.
4. Walk Through College Walk Every Day
This may be more of a sanity tip than a success tip, but I definitely encourage incoming students at CLS to broaden their horizons on campus and explore beyond the halls of Jerome Greene. I try to walk through College Walk on the main campus at least once a day, and can’t describe how energized, privileged, and inspired it gets me. CLS is a wonderful place to go to school, and your experience can be all the more impactful if you see yourself as not just a student of the law school but of the larger University community.
5. Explore, Explore, Explore
Whether you’re totally uncertain about your future career goals or you have a specific niche figured out, use your time at CLS to explore new areas of the law and new places. Take a class on maritime law and enroll in the human rights clinic. Study abroad in Japan or work for a Federal Judge in Puerto Rico during your 1L summer. This is the time to explore new sides of yourself and also engage with interesting, novel legal issues. And CLS gives you a tremendous platform to do that- the reputation, and resources of the school have opened so many doors for me. Let CLS do the same for you, and treat these 3 years as a chance to engage meaningfully with yourself, the world, and the law.
Virat Gupta is a 3L from Bloomfield Hills, MI.
Virat Gupta, 2L