Wait… there’s a second semester? (LOL, totally kidding)
The first semester of law school was hard. But we all knew that would be the case. My cohort started law school online, during a pandemic, and largely without the company of other law students. Our experience was far from “traditional.” So, to summarize the events of August – December 2020– the first semester of law school was hard.
I used my winter break from classes to rest and recharge, a concept that is a little foreign to me. I’m not really good at taking breaks from work and trying to not do things. But man, did it feel good. I watched so much Survivor over winter break. I’ve never even watched Survivor before! I started with Season 28 simply because it was what Netflix made available. Now, just a few weeks later, I think I’ve finished five seasons? I hardly watched Netflix during the semester. When I did take some time to watch Netflix, I found myself issue-spotting or thinking about law school even more. It felt really good to take a break and do things that were completely unrelated to law school for a little while.
Of course, I couldn’t completely ignore school. I checked grades, reviewed my finals, kept up with my law school friends, and took a few moments to check my email. I wasn’t as excited to receive my grades as compared to undergrad. It was a different feeling. My professors were honest about the grading curve and there was a set expectation that not everyone would be happy about their grades (and that’s okay.)
The spring semester starts up again in four days. (Which also means there’s four more days to finish readings for day one.) It feels different preparing for “the first day of school” as compared to past years. Three of my classes will continue from last semester — Civil Procedure, Contracts, and LARAW. I have two new classes — Property and Critical Lawyering Skills. For the three classes that are continuing, I have a very clear understanding of what is expected of me and how I can succeed. I know these professors, I know my classmates, and I know how I have been graded previously. On the other hand, I am approaching my two new classes with a much clearer understanding of how to succeed in law school. I know what works for me now as a law student and how to approach my classes.
In short, I feel much better heading into this second semester of law school as compared to the first. I am heading in knowing very well the expectations, the demands, and my own abilities. I’m excited to start this semester strong.
I have been wanting to start this blog for quite some time now. Before I started law school, I would turn to law school bloggers to gain some insight in regards to how others approached law school; from how they organized their tasks, managed their time, or which planners worked best for them.
Even before I was accepted into law school, I remember reading about how other students studied for the LSAT (law school admissions test). During my undergraduate career, I didn’t know many other students applying to law school during the same cycle as me, so looking to online resources was incredibly helpful.
Fast forward to today. I am about to start my second semester of my 1L year at Santa Clara University School of Law. I have thought about making a blog for months but didn’t take the time to do it… until now! I’m really excited for this journey. I hope I can provide insight to those thinking about going to law school, provide helpful resources for those preparing for law school, and keep a record of my experiences in law school.
(I am by no means at all an expert in any of this stuff! I am on a journey to my JD, and humbly learning along the way!)
Wow, even just typing the title made me feel relieved to be done with law school applications!
If you’re reading this, chances are you are either applying to law schools *right now*, or interested in doing so. As daunting and overwhelming as the process is, I’m here to tell you that you will be so relieved once it’s all done! I hope this post provides some clarity and reassurance in navigating the whole law school application process.
For reference, I’ll be referring to the Law School Admission Council’s instructions on applying to JD Programs. Their webpage can be accessed here. I see the process in 7 steps:
Create an LSAC account
Take the LSAT
Research Law Schools
Get those transcripts
Request letters of recommendation
Write your personal statement
(Honorable mention: Get accepted (and you will!)
So let’s break it down. Starting with #1.
1. Create an LSAC account
This is so easy to do, and free! Anyone can make a Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) account at any time – you don’t need to wait for this. The LSAC website has a ton of awesome resources for JD applicants. You can search and compare schools, add schools to a list, see requirements, etc. Seriously, go check it out. Website here.
2. Take the LSAT.
Ugh, I know. The LSAT isn’t really the most fun way to spend your time. But it is a necessary part of your ~journey to JD~. There are a TON of posts and videos and opinions out there about how to study the LSAT, but I think you’ll find similar advice repeated: do what works for you.
One good thing about 2020, is you may have learned a bit more about yourself and your learning style. Ask yourself a few questions: do you find it easier to study by yourself or with a group? In a classroom or virtually? Do you learn better when you read on your own, or when you watch a lecture? You may want to take a learning assessment to explore this a little more. Here’s one by Vark.
There’s many different LSAT prep providers out there, you just have to find one that you like. Personally, I really liked the LSAT Trainer by Mike Kim. It’s a more affordable option that allows students to pace themselves, while still doing a lot of practice.
Find what works for you, commit the right amount of time to studying, take practice tests, and take the LSAT. You can do it!
3. Research Law Schools
I did all of my research into law schools using the resources provided on LSAC’s website. I had never even heard of my current law school before I started the application process. You just want to find 6-12 law schools that you would like to apply to. You can make the harder decisions later. Some factors to consider:
GPA/LSAT scores – how likely is it that you will be accepted based on your stats?
Specialty – is there a certain area of law you would like to practice? Does this school have any clinics or programs, or research that stands out to you?
Bar Pass Rate – this is something I highly valued
Cost of Living
4. Secure the bag. I mean transcripts.
Request your transcripts EARLY!!!!!! If you are a procrastinator, do not procrastinate on this. Just do it early, when you’re bored on a Friday, when you have some extra time. Contact your college and University’s records office ahead of time for specific instructions. I am so thankful that I went to a small undergrad (UC Merced) and they were so incredibly helpful in the process. The LSAC website has specific instructions so you just want to make sure you follow these carefully.
5. Letters of recommendation.
Reflect on your academic and professional career up until this point. Think about your work besties, your favorite professors, any mentors you’ve had. Who is someone reliable that will write and submit a timely letter on your behalf?
Remember, these recommenders are likely incredibly busy. Anything you can do to help them to also navigate the process will make things so much easier. Lay out the process for them, provide your resume, maybe even write a sample draft letter for them.
Reach out to your recommenders with ample time for them to prepare their letter, contact you with any questions, and submit it on time!
6. Write your personal statement
Okay, let’s be real – this part IS tough. Thinking of a theme, a topic, a storyline of some sort can be really hard and honestly hold you back from moving forward in your application. Think back to any scholarship or admission essays you’ve written in the past. Think about why you want to go to law school and use this personal statement as an opportunity to honestly introduce yourself to law school admissions. Start out by just answering WHY, and then expand from there. Also, share with a few trusted colleagues or a family member to edit.
OMG, you have made it THIS far! That is HUGE! Give yourself a pat on the back. ❤
The applications themselves (all through LSAC’s website) are not as tough as the previous steps (in terms of brain power). Set aside some time where you can play some music or a tv show and fill out all of the information requested in the applications. It’s just a tedious part in the process, but this the last step!! Ah!!! (Also, I would recommend saving a PDF copy of your applications just for reference.)
8. Look out for acceptance emails!
You did it! This is a huge accomplishment. 🙂 Tell your family and friends and narrow down some of your choices!
I hope this helps any law school applicants out there. The process can be overwhelming, but you’ve got this. Sending good vibes!
I could not put Jess’ words any better. She truly guided me through 1L year and was there for me every step of the way. This post goes out to all the 1Ls who are overwhelmed, excited, anxious, scared, or confused. It’s okay if you read the first case of your assigned Contracts reading and questioned your ability to read. You are going to get through this – one day at a time.
It’s that time of year again. Anxious 1Ls await the beginning of what will be the longest three years of their lives. Meanwhile, attorneys, law profs, and other legal professionals are eagerly sharing advice on how to survive. The weekend before the start of law school is overwhelming. With so much information, words of wisdom, and horror stories going around, it’s understandably difficult to make sense of it all. Even harder though, is figuring out how to translate it all into a personal success plan. I can’t create that plan for you. But in this post, I will at least attempt to clear up some of the terms and tasks I wish I understood going into my 1L year.
I’m a policy person, so I’m always looking for the “why” behind process. So, in this post, I will also try to also explain why we do these things in the…