I started law school part-time four years ago while working full-time. My first year was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. My second year was on Zoom. My third year was masked. My final year was mostly normal again.
During law school, I also quit my full-time job, and, with my wife, welcomed my first child, bought a house, and moved. It was eventful to say the least. In the midst of this all, I sought to figure out where I wanted to take my career. As my time in law school comes to a close, I wanted to lay out a few pieces of advice that I learned.
Try Different Things
I clerked with a litigation group that did a lot of insurance defense, a plaintiff-side medical malpractice group, legal aid, a federal District Court judge, and a top full-service business firm. I also did a clinic that exposed me to working with Social Security Disability and life-planning documents. I participated in Moot Court and published a note in my school’s Law Review.
Even with multiple family members who are lawyers, I had very little idea of all the different types of law and all the varied activities that lawyers do. The more experiences you can have, the better idea you will have of what exactly you want to do as a lawyer. And even then, it’s what you want to start doing, not what you’ll end up doing.
It’s true that grades don’t fully define you, and a bad grade doesn’t mean you’ll be a bad lawyer. However, good grades will open doors for you. While your whole career won’t be defined by your GPA, your early career will. Getting high marks in 1L classes sets you up for a better summer and a better performance at On Campus Interviews. Better grades also help you get into extracurriculars that can improve your practice skills and make you more attractive to future employers. Why cost yourself opportunities by not trying your best?
Going into law school, I was going to review before each class, add to the class outline at the end of each week, and set time aside for studying each day. Some people can do this type of disciplined work each week. I am not one of those people.
I immediately gave up on these goals and focused on what I needed: reading, case briefing, and attending class. I had an idea what my law school self would be, but it was not realistic.
I gave myself permission to be myself and did not worry about outlining until the end of the semester. I did not worry about reviewing before each class or studying every day. I made sure I did the work, even if it was right before class. And working hard in the way in which fit me best lead to me excelling in law school.
Law school is stressful enough. Do not take on the pressure of being someone you’re not. Embrace the way you learn and study and do your best.