Student Resources:

"First year, they scare you to death.  Second year, they work you to death.  Third year, they bore you to death."
1L Law Student Studys for Law School

1L Law School Year

The 1L law school year is more difficult than the other two years combined. Why? To begin with, your first year of law school is the most important. Your 1L law school year grades determine whether you can participate in the prestigious law school activities of Law Review and Moot Court, they determine whether you will get a job as a summer associate, and they even influence whether you will qualify for a judicial clerkship after law school. From day one, the pressure is on.  In addition to reviewing this information, be sure to download the Free 1L Law Student Guide—Being Ready From Day One.

The 1L law school year has the reputation for being among the greatest challenges to intellect and stamina that a person can face. Be prepared for little feedback. If you like to learn passively or want instant gratification, get used to disappointment.  You will be very involved in the learning process. Expect to leave your first year law school class with questions unanswered.  And, get used to the idea right now, that you will probably be waiting for some 1L law school grades from the first semester when you start your second semester.  There is a ton of information that you will learn during your first year.  The 1L law school year covers 90% of the "law" you will learn in law school.

Adding to the pressure of your first year of law school is the fact that you know little (if anything) about studying law. The skills that lead you to so much success in your undergraduate life simply don’t transfer. Knowing how to impress a professor or take normal college exams will not help you. 1L law school classes are very different than your previous classes, you will need to participate and take notes differently.  Most first year law school classes have only one grade, derived from one test, given at the end of the course.  Another characteristic that makes law school so different than your previous experience, is that you are expected to learn the material and be ready to discuss it when you first arrive to class. This system is called “The Socratic Method.” To understand more about this method, read the 1L-Law School Coach Article on the Socratic Method.

What to Expect: 1L Law School Year

Most law schools will sort the first year law students into groups called sections. Each section will have identical class schedules. You will get to know people from your 1L law school class section very well, most develop life-long friendships from their first year law school sections. During your 1L law school year, expect to attend class about 14 to 15 hours per week. These classes will cover the basics of the law. Once you have finished your first year of law school, you will be confident that you can find the answer to any legal question. The 1L law school curriculum is virtually identical at every school:
  • Civil Procedure–the rules and regulations of filing lawsuits
  • Contracts—the law of enforceable agreements
  • Constitutional Law—the ultimate law of the country
  • Criminal Law—the law of crimes and penalties
  • Legal Research and Writing—the only required skill class in law school
  • Property—the law of land ownership and rights
  • Torts—the law of civil injuries and remedies
You should expect to spend about 2-3 hours working outside of your law school class for each hour you are in class. First year law school classes are going to be time consuming and the professor will begin with the course material on day one. You will have a reading assignment that you are assigned for each class day. You should expect for these assignments to take longer early in the semester as you are becoming accustomed to the material. It is important to stay on top of this reading. If you get behind, you can get stuck with a mountain of catch up material.

What do I Need to Know to Succeed at Law School?

Though no first year law student can be perfectly ready on day one for his or her 1L law school year, every law student can benefit from some advance preparation. Law School Coach has put together all the resources you will need to hit the ground running on your first day of law school. You will find information about what you need to do before your first day of law school, how to prepare for class each day, study methods for your first year of law school, and other information that will save you both time and energy (2 precious resources for any 1L law school student). Also, make sure to download your Law School Coach Free 1L Law Student Guide—Being Ready From Day One.