First Day in the Ocean

schoolfishSo today is your first day of law school, or you are reading this in anticipation of your first day of law school. Whatever the case may be, congratulations! You made it!

Now the work begins.

As you filter into the crowded halls of your respective law school and see the second and third-year law students, this can be a daunting experience, but do not worry; we have all been there before. Here are a few tips to help you be able to swim with the best sharks.

To begin, breathe, everything will be OK.

The best way to start your first day, or any day for that matter, is with a healthy and hearty meal. Breakfast is a critical meal because it influences every dimension of our being during the day; this includes both mental and physical performance.

Breakfast instantly raises the bod’s energy level and restores the blood glucose level to normal after fasting throughout the night. Breakfast also lowers the blood level of the stress hormone cortisol, which is at its highest early in the morning. In a nutshell, breakfast keeps you energized and stress-free.

The next way to start your first day off to a great start is to be on time. My first-year Property professor had a saying, “to be on time is to be 15 minutes early, to be late is to be on time.”

Before your first day, take the time to locate your classrooms and print your class schedule. Walk your route to class in advance so that on game day, you will already know the path to take and will not be lost by the influx of students walking to class.

To ensure your first day runs smoothly, be prepared for class. This is very different from undergraduate school. In undergrad, your first day is spent filling out initial paperwork and “getting to know” your professors.

In law school, your first day starts the ball rolling. Do not be behind the ball. Print out your syllabus, as this is your guide to the content covered in class. This is also the first step to building your outline.

Start working on your readings before class. The better students do not just keep up with readings, they read ahead. Read with an open mind and come to class prepared with questions.

Take notes as you read. Do not treat this reading like it’s “Joy reading” or your favorite novel. Law school reading is very dense, and it takes reading some cases more than once to understand them. Also, to better be prepared for class, make sure to have a writing utensil and paper. Some professors are sticklers about not using electronics in class.

Now you’re in class. You are probably asking, I followed all of your steps now I’m in class, what do I do? That answer is easy; pay attention, take notes, and ask questions.

All professors are different, but the Socratic Method is alive and well.

Don’t worry, my friend, we all have been called on in class, but what makes you different is the previous tip, you took the time to prepare. You read the cases before class and took notes while reading. Take a deep breath and think about what the professor asked you and why they asked that particular question. Refer to your notes and take the time to think because you’ve got this.

Finally, your day is over, and you have made it through your first day of class. Treat every day as if it is your first day of class. Prepare for every class, continue to read ahead, and take good notes. Law school will never become easy, but it can become manageable.

Congratulation little shark, you are now swimming in the ocean!!

~George E. Graham, II
Candidate for Juris Doctor, Spring 2021

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