What do 1Ls need to know?

courtesy of Jade Gordon

Written by Jeannine Bell

I recently had an occasion to address a group of 1Ls to give them advice for law school. I’ve done this for the past several years and found myself with somewhat mixed emotions for the first time about the type of advice I would give them. When I first began dispensing advice of the sort I was very close to my own law school days. Unsurprisingly perhaps, my advice was a combination of what I imagined law students needed to know and what I wished I had been told as a law student. My comments were heavily peppered with advice about work/life balance, study skills, course selection, and preparing for exams. As I gave this advice over the next several years, I realized that entirely different concerns animated my own law students. I also realized that there were entire categories of advice (like course selection) that my students completely ignored. There have been economic and technological changes in the intervening time period as well. So this year I decided to lift the veil that often stands between “professors” and “students” and talk about things that were true about us as faculty that they may not know. I mentioned, for instance, the importance of getting to know faculty before one asks for a reference. I also pointed out that we can see what they’re doing on their laptops and that it makes at least some of us unreasonably upset. I’m not even sure this type of advice helps. Who knows? This is one thing I’m not even sure time will tell.