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First years, fear not! Surviving 1L

Chris Morgan
Chris Morgan (right) directs law students at the division's Assembly during the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The first year of law school is a difficult place to find yourself. It’s fast paced. It’s competitive. It’s tiring. It’s frustrating. And if you’re not careful, it’s easy to burn out and forget the reason you even wanted to be a lawyer in the first place.

But through all of the anxiety, coffee, and late nights – you should always remember that the hard work is worth it. You will survive!

With that said, there are a number of things that helped get me through my first year that I thought might be helpful to share.

Be nice to people

The overarching (and incorrect) assumption coming into law school is that people are rude and contentious. Curves and class ranks are hard things to deal with – and almost everyone who went to law school is competitive. But don’t let that overcome you. Remember, the people that you go to law school with will more than likely become your professional references and colleagues in the future. Treat them with class and respect, even when you disagree with them.

Find something to do that’s not school

You cannot be studying all the time or I am telling you, you will burn out and you won’t do well. Take a break and find something that you like to do. It will help you de-stress and come back refreshed. Whatever it is that you like to do: run, hike, go to the gym, watch Netflix. Take some time off everyday and just do it. You will feel better. For the record, I used to go to movies by myself every Tuesday afternoon my first year. It was not … that … embarrassing.

Get involved in something extracurricular

A great way to enrich your law school experience is to get involved in things out of class that let you apply what you’ve learned in a practical setting. Doing moot court or writing competitions, joining a club that does community service, or teaching through a Street Law program at an area high school are all great ways to meet new people and to get involved. Applying what you’re learning outside of an exam setting will make the books seem less stressful and the material seem less daunting.

Set goals

This may be my most important piece of advice that I can give. Keep in your sight and in your mind the reasons that you wanted to be a lawyer and set small goals to help get you closer to where you want to be. Your academic and professional development as a law student is extremely important. Find ways to compete with yourself – not just the others in your class. It’s imperative to set bars along the way to help keep you on track and to measure your progress.

Be happy and keep it all in perspective

At the end of the day, it’s just school. Real life goes on whether you get an A on that Con Law exam or you get a B. Your support system will be there to pick you up. Hang in there, do your best, and be the happiest and most positive version of yourself. You will thank yourself later!

Read More: Sticking to a budget: One small step for a law student

Chris Morgan Chris Morgan is a 3L at the Gonzaga University School of Law and Governor of the Law Student Division’s 12th Circuit. Chris has published editorials on civic engagement and public policy for some of the Northwest’s largest newspapers including The Oregonian, The Columbian, The Spokesman Review, and the Portland Tribune.