7 Law School Resolutions For The New Year

7 Law School Resolutions For The New YearThis week we welcome back guest writer Tiffany Lo to talk about starting fresh in the new year with some resolutions.

Being a law student is not easy. There is always room for improvement—to make things more efficient, to grow your knowledge, to hone your legal skills. This year, consider adopting some of these new year resolutions:

1. Improve your Writing

Notice that there is no “legal” in front of the word “writing.” In my opinion, legal writing, with some exceptions, like citing to the relevant authorities and analyzing distinct elements, is not so different from normal, great writing. In fact, I believe that lawmakers, practitioners, and judges should all make their writings more clean and readable, in order to demystify the legal profession and increase access for non-lawyers. Jurists like Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kagan have demonstrated that sophisticated legal analysis can be done without clunky sentences and legal jargon. Briefs and opinions should not hurt the head to read, but present clear, compelling narratives and arguments.

For law students, writing is unavoidable – it comes up in assignments, clinic work, and exams. Look at these as opportunities to practice good writing in different settings and under varying time constraints. Specific tips and strategies are for another post (you can check out these blog entries here and here). Overall, the objective is to be intentional about practicing one or two techniques at a time. Moreover, reading regularly is crucial to becoming a better writer (see resolution #2). By reading different authors’ works and learning about new subjects, you will gradually develop your own expressive style.

2. Reading More Regularly

In law school, it feels like there is no time to read for fun. But I bet that you spend some time in your day browsing social media or watching television or Youtube videos. I am certainly guilty of this. Consider borrowing some of that time for reading. It can be a chapter of a book, short news stories, or longer articles from the New Yorker and Atlantic. A bit of reading a day really adds up. There is also the added bonus of taking a break from law school by delving into a fictional universe or an interesting social issue.

3. Reflect on How You Manage Time

Time management is crucial for juggling a busy schedule. One important piece is knowing when not to work, take a break, and devote time to self-care, your hobbies, or spending quality time with family and friends. Check out these time management blog posts and find the techniques that work best for you!

4. Take a Course in a New or Challenging Area

It is always great to broaden your horizons. Consider taking a class or seminar on a legal topic that is unfamiliar to you. In addition to learning about a new substantive area, you might gain a different perspective or even develop an interest in the practice. Look at course evaluations or get recommendations from your peers about great classes and professors.

5. Give back

There are many ways for law students to make a difference in their communities, even before becoming licensed attorneys. Student organizations train volunteers to represent suspended students or unemployment insurance claimants; local legal nonprofits and government agencies provide opportunities to do legal research on live matters; and special projects come up to address novel legal needs. Recent efforts involve COVID-19 relief, the 2020 election, and the money bail system in light of nationwide protests. Keep your eyes peeled for both short and long-term opportunities, and commit your time and skill to these worthy causes. You will also be able to develop skills like advocacy and client relationships! It is truly a win-win situation.

6. Learn a New Non-law Skill or Pick Up a New Hobby

Many law students and lawyers find balance in their lives by continuing their non-legal related hobbies and skills, or developing new ones. For me, I’ve continued my childhood interests in painting, playing music, and getting involved in theater productions. Lately, I’ve started to cook and bake more – relying on online recipes and trying to add my own twists. I like that I can just follow instructions and that I get to taste my own creations, as well as feed people I love (and gobble up their praise). I highly encourage you to brainstorm activities that you would enjoy, and make them part of your routine!

7. Build and Strengthen Relationships

Good relationships with your classmates and professors are valuable in many ways. During law school, they can answer substantive questions in a course or give advice about jobs and clerkships. They can offer emotional and mental support when you feel lost or overwhelmed. In the future, they may give you business or suggest a new career opportunity. In the new year, take the initiative to reach out to classmates you don’t know and visit professors’ office hours. Check out this blog post for tips on building a professional presence and networking in law school.

I hope that these resolutions give you a starting point for growing professionally and personally in 2021. Happy New Year and cheers to improvement!


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About Tiffany Gee Ching Lo

Tiffany Gee Ching Lo is a student at Stanford Law School. She spent her 1L year at the New York University School of Law, where she was involved with Alternative Breaks, Women of Color Collective, and Law Revue, and worked as research assistant. Tiffany received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, graduating magna cum laude with double majors in Political Science and Rhetoric. Tiffany developed an interest in the law from a young age, and have worked in law firms and courthouses in Hong Kong–where she grew up, around the San Francisco Bay Area, and in New York. In her spare time, Tiffany enjoys painting, playing the piano and cello, trying out new recipes, and watching late night talk shows.

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