What I Wish I Had Known Going Into Law School

What I Wish I Had Known Going Into Law SchoolThis week we welcome back guest writer and rising 2L Stephanie Gregoire to discuss what she learned after finishing up 1L year.

Somehow, my 1L year has ended, and I’m a rising 2L. I don’t quite know how this happened, but it has. The amount I have learned over the last school year is incredible, and I look forward to learning even more in the coming years. But for now, let’s talk about the non-law things I learned that I wish I would have known in August:

The importance of having the right people around you.

The people around you have a greater impact on your life than you probably realize. Having the right people around you makes law school more bearable, and there are two categories of people around you I suggest having: law school people and non-law school people.

The first group is important because you need people to vent to who can relate to everything you have going on. While your non-law school people may understand that it translates to being busy, they don’t really get what exactly that means. Having someone who can relate is critical. Just as having people who will forcibly pull you out of the law school “bubble” is essential. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of law school becoming your whole life, and having people who will talk about last night’s game instead of anything school related will be the reason you can separate yourself from law school at least for a while. I know it was crucial to me having a life outside of school and having some semblance of balance in my life.

It’s more of a shared experience than you may think.

My section has jokes going back to the first day of our civ pro class that, outside of our shared experience, would make zero sense. We went through all of the same school-related things together, so by definition it is a group experience. Sure, there were different social and study groups that went and did their own things, but we went through the experience of being 1Ls together and that creates a unique bond. I don’t learn well in groups so I didn’t really think the group experience thing would apply to me because I knew I wouldn’t be doing the study group thing, and I was happily proven quite wrong about that.

Consistency is key.

In case you haven’t heard it yet, law school is a marathon, not a sprint, especially the first year. And like training for a marathon, you have to approach it consistently to be successful. At least that’s what I’m told, you won’t see me preparing for a marathon probably ever. But I can recognize the effort required and see that in many ways, it is similar to what helped me find success as a 1L. Having a consistent outlining “date” with myself each week kept me roughly on track with my outlines, and same with my readings. My daily routine on days I had class was virtually identical, which meant I didn’t have to really think too hard about little things like what time to set my alarm or what time to go to bed – those were just part of my routine. Fewer little things to think about translates to more mental capacity to focus on school, and that was a gamechanger for me.

It absolutely flies by.

Like I said earlier, I’m still unsure how exactly I’ve wrapped up 1L and yet here I am. It really does feel like yesterday was my first day of class, then I blinked, and it was done. Being beyond busy will do that to you. Between classes, preparing for classes, studying, networking events, job searching, basic things like eating and sleeping, and spending some time outside of the law school “bubble” it can feel like you barely have time to breathe. But you do, and you should, because you don’t want to reach the finish line and look back only to realize that you could have attended that bar review event, or gone to that concert, or done whatever it is you wish you would have done.

You can do it, and it probably won’t be as bad as you think.

Coming into law school after working for five years was daunting. It’s daunting even if you just finished undergrad. You hear all of the horror stories, and yes, some of those may happen to you, but the admissions committee felt you could handle it based on your application, so odds are you will make it through. And when you look back on it, it probably won’t be nearly as bad as you thought it would be. I know that was certainly my experience. Blown cold calls aren’t fun, neither is feeling like you’re grasping at straws for a summer job, but on balance, I’d say it was a pretty good experience overall.

Odds are, if you’re here, you’re probably about to start law school and looking for things to be on the lookout for or ways to be better prepared, or you’ve finished 1L and want to see what someone else got from the experience. I hope these lessons are helpful in some capacity (or ring true if you’ve wrapped up 1L), and I encourage you to put in the work and trust the process, it will all work out the way it’s meant to, in my opinion.


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About Stephanie Gregoire

Stephanie is a 2L at the University of Houston Law Center in Houston, Texas. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2017, where she majored in History. In the years since completing her B.A., she has worked in Human Resources across the country, working in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Washington before moving to Texas. Outside of school, her hobbies include baking, working out, and travelling.

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