How to Use Your Summer to Reset for the Following Year

How to Use Your Summer to Reset for the Following YearThis week we welcome back guest writer Alexandra Muskat to discuss how to use your time during the summer to start out on the right foot in the fall as a law student.

In undergrad, we generally spend our summers working and relaxing, but when you get to law school, you learn that your summer should be used more wisely. I don’t know if “wisely” is really a good way to put it – what I mean is, summers should be used to reset for the following year.

Summer Before 1L

You have probably heard lots of advice about what to do right before law school starts – enjoy your freedom, read these ten books, start leafing through case briefs, etc. My summer before law school, I finished working as a nanny, traveled to Korea, found and decorated my new apartment, and read 1L by Scott Turow. My suggestion – don’t read that book until after 1L.

The things I wished I had done before law school, that many of classmates did, was spend time with my family and friends, learn to sleep properly, create a workout routine I thought I could maintain in school, read books on growth mindset and how to build one, and connect with classmates in my section.

I think the most important thing you can do the summer before you start 1L is practice positivity and gratitude. Acknowledge the honor it is to become a lawyer and attend law school, and recognize the people that helped you get there.

Summer Before 2L

After 1L, all I wanted to do was dive into my bed and not come out until September (preferably graduation day). Instead, I spent the summer working for the Chief Justice of the Juvenile Court and loving every second of it.

The summer before your second year of law school should be spent learning. Most law schools, mine included, advise their students to look for a job or internship. Mine actually vehemently protested against us looking for paid jobs because they wanted them available for rising 3Ls. This blockade is what led me to my judicial internship and finally learning proper legal research and writing skills (I’m more of a hands-on learner).

During 1L, start looking into judicial internships, law firm internships, or even taking an extra course to lessen your load the following year. If you go on a study abroad program, make sure the courses you choose are ones that you think you’d enjoy (because you’ll be studying them all day, every day for three weeks straight), or that might help you for future classes or concentrations. If you work in a judicial internship, take the time to recognize how different people require different things from their memos (which will help you on the UBE MPT portion). And if you land a paid/unpaid job, put your best foot forward, learn everything you can, and see if you’re able to come back the following summer, or even during the school year.

Whatever you end up doing this summer, make sure it is aiding your legal/law school resume.

Summer Before 3L

I’m not going to lie, the summer before 3L I did nothing. I worked as a nanny twice a week, but for the most part, I laid low and traveled. I don’t fully regret this decision because I had gone through a lot during my 2L year and had continued my judicial internship throughout it – so I needed a break. But, part of me wishes I had searched for another position. It has taken me a very long time to determine what kind of law I’d like to practice, and I fully attribute that to not having enough exposure during law school. I wish I had spent this summer networking with lawyers in various areas of law and/or working in an area of law separate to juvenile justice.

So, the summer before 3L, really try to find a position – whether it’s a paid job or an internship – where you can see a different area of law then you might have thought you’d like. I know many people will give the opposite advice – stay in the same area of law – because it looks good on your resume, but I think figuring out what area of law you’re truly interested in is more important. So, try different things and don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to course correct.

Additionally, August of the summer before your 3L year is the perfect time to take the MPRE. I found that without the pressure of school, my brain was much better focused. I passed with flying colors and was set for the rest of the year. A lot of my classmates did poorly when they took it in November or March, simply because they had school stressors going on at the same time.

Summer of the Bar 

There’s a hard mental shift you have to make when you are graduating – you go from celebrating this huge victory, to realizing it isn’t actually over. Probably the hardest part of the bar is this mental shift. I used to tell people it’s like finishing the Ironman and then being told you have to walk barefoot, in your wet suit, to the car which is in another parking lot two miles away and only then will you get a Gatorade and a banana. In most programs, the day after you graduate you start prepping for the bar exam. My biggest piece of advice for this summer is to be kind to yourself. Figure out how you learn best, stick to it, and give the exam your all, but then let it go.

Every summer provides the opportunity to reset. Learn to relax with all the new found time you have, but keep your mind working. Read new books, review what you learned the year before, look into bar prep programs, work for a judge or private law firm, do research, or take the MPRE. Whatever you decide, try to always sleep well, make good food choices, move more, connect with those that are important to you, and enjoy the time off so you can come back to school ready to take on the tasks with a positive attitude and a resilient heart.


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About Alexandra Muskat

Alexandra graduated from Suffolk University Law School in 2017 and passed the UBE in all 29 states, not that anyone’s counting. She has a bachelors from Florida International University in English Literature with concentrations in Psychology and Creative Writing. In addition to working on her first novel, she works part time consulting in laboratory compliance.

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