Ten Tips For Incoming Law Students
1. Ask Questions.
If you want to know more, just ask. If you are confused, just ask. If you are totally lost, still ask. Nine times out of ten, everything will click with an answer to your question. Whether you are in class and would like some clarification or simply want to know more about the programs available to you, asking one simple question will let someone know you are interested, confused, or just want to learn more.
2. Try Anything You May Be Interested In At Least Once.
People are more than happy to tell you what they think of courses, professors, and different areas of the law. While that feedback is always helpful, what works for one person, may not work for you and vice versa. If you were ever interested in something like litigation, try it. It may not be what you hoped it would be, but at least then you’ll know that it is not for you. There will be plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself into different areas of the law and not all of them will require you to dedicate a whole semester to them.
3. Plan…. Plan… and PLAN.
Law school is all about time management. Get a calendar and use it. Stay on task. Make yourself to-do lists. Checking off those items throughout the day will feel like a huge accomplishment.
4. Get the Supplements.
Some professors may discourage you from using supplements that do not go hand in hand with your required textbook for class. However, the textbook they require is often filled with legalize and hard to understand. Don’t worry because there are tons of helpful outlines and supplements that can help you put the class materials together to make sense. You don’t have to read these supplements from front to back cover, but you can look up cases and terms that you find confusing. Many companies also make supplemental recordings that you can listen to during long commutes. Find what works best for you.
5. Use the Resources Available to You.
Find resources that are available to you both on and off campus and use them. For example, MSU Diversity Services, along with other MSU organizations, offer some financial assistance to attend conferences. With the help from this office, I was able to travel to New York multiple times over the course of my law school career to attend conferences held by Fordham’s Fashion Law Institute and the Federal Bar Association.
6. Find Your Niche.
Today, the legal field thrives on lawyers who practice in niche areas of the law. If it does not already exist, create it. Contrary to what it may feel like in your 1L class lecture hall, it is okay to step out of the box and do what makes you, you.
7. Find Professors/Faculty Who Believe in What You Are Doing and Pick their Brains.
In addition to finding a great group of friends within your law school, find professors and faculty members that believe in you. Pick their brains about any insightful experience or advice they may have for you. Even if they are not directly involved with an area of law that you are interested in, they can likely point you to someone who may be able to better assist you.
8. If it Relaxed You Before Law School, Chances Are it Still Will—Make Sure to Incorporate it into Your Schedule.
While you may not think you have time for fun things outside of school, you should make some time for them. You will not be able to perform at your best if you work 24/7 without any time for yourself. I made time to shop (oops!), get my nails done, and go for a run throughout the week. I did these things because they relaxed me and took my mind off schoolwork. My friends and I also enjoyed football tailgates and wine tastings.
9. If it Feels Awkward and Uncomfortable, Keep Doing It.
Law school will be full of unfamiliar situations, but you know what they say—if you are feeling comfortable, then you are probably not learning anything. Embrace those awkward moments. In fact, they probably are not awkward at all. You are likely overthinking it.
10. Out of Thousands of "No"s, All it Takes is One Yes.
Throughout your journey in law school, you may not be awarded all of the opportunities that you pursue or elected to positions that you desire. Just remember that everything happens for a reason. There are plenty of other opportunities that will be offered to you. Just because you may be turned down or told “no,” does not mean you should give up. Many employers and professors admire determination and perseverance. Do not let one negative event affect your future.
The last two photographs taken around the MSU campus were captured by Tim Westrate.