Life in law school

If you are planning to attend law school, you need to structure your educational program at Touro in a way that prepares you to excel during your first year. While as an undergraduate you can compensate for weaker early grades by finishing strongly, in law school those who are at the top of their first year class are best positioned to receive coveted offers of judicial clerkships and high-paying law firm jobs. At many schools, prized positions on student- edited publications such as law reviews go to the students with the best grades. Law review is generally regarded as the most important law school activity a student can have, and many top law firms only interview or hire students on law review, especially if you are not at a first or second-tier law school. Faculty members often prefer to hire law review members for research jobs, and judges usually prefer them for post-graduate clerkships.

Not only is the first year the most important, it is also the most difficult. Even if you have read cases before, it is unlikely that you are used to the unrelenting pace of “all cases, all the time.” Most law schools have a set curriculum for the first year, and you will be assigned to a section of 40-120 students with whom you will take most or all of your courses. There are no courses that offer easy reading you can do as you are nodding off after a long night of studying; reading and understanding the law will require your continued attention throughout the term. The pressure intensifies throughout the year, as your grades in most courses will be based solely on final exams. Furthermore, most law schools use a mandatory curve with a limited number of students assigned the top grade. This means that you are actively competing against your classmates in every exam. No matter how well you do, if a sufficient number of your classmates do better on an exam than you do, you will not get an “A.” Most law students find their first year the most challenging of their educational lives, so try to keep your other commitments to a minimum.

Law students usually look for practical legal experience during their two summers in law school. During their first summer, the majority of students are unable to find paying employment, but they are often able to find internships with firms, government agencies and even judges. Many of these internships prefer students with good first year grades, another reason why doing well your first year gives you a big advantage over your law school classmates. The better your first year grades, the easier it is for you to find a paying job during your second law school summer. This paying second-year job may turn into a full-time offer of employment – the culmination of the impact of having good first year grades. Third year students with job offers can relax while those who have not yet received an offer need to scramble for every “A” they can add to their resumes. Of course, there are exceptions, but it is better to not be an exception and have a job waiting for you before you finish law school.