Items to Consider Adding to Your 3L Year To-Do List

We’re welcoming back Jaclyn Wishnia to talk about going into 3L year and how to be prepared and think ahead to post-grad as well.

An old law school adage states, “1L, they scare you to death; 2L, they work you to death; and 3L, they bore you to death.” This maxim isn’t entirely accurate. While the former two hold true for many law students, the latter certainly doesn’t. Each year of law school presents its own unique set of challenges. Though finals will no longer seem as daunting as they were during 1L, there are plenty of other obstacles that dispel the notion that 3L will be “boring” – like the bar.

If you’ve made it to 3L, do feel proud of what you’ve accomplished thus far, but don’t let the fact that it’s the final year detract from your productivity and finishing up your law school career strong. To keep that momentum going, here’s a list of items to consider addressing the summer before entering and throughout 3L year, your last year of law school.

Classes

The ABA mandates that law students meet a minimum amount of credits to graduate, but law schools may impose their own separate requirements. Although every law student must schedule to meet with their registrar’s office to ensure compliance, plan ahead this summer by reviewing your law school’s guidelines and determining if there are any core classes you still need to fulfill, including those for specializations.

If you’ve already satisfied the basics, register for classes that either intrigue you, could propel your career, or have real-world value in daily life. Other compelling ideas for choosing classes include: registering for ones taught by favorable professors; asking internship supervisors to recommend some; and designing an independent study concerning an area of law that interests you, but isn’t offered.

Also, don’t let your grades slip! If half your class consists of 3Ls, they’re also checked out. Seize this opportunity to bolster that GPA. Alternatively, if the class is mostly comprised of 2Ls, they’re still fiercely competing to achieve those ‘A-grades’, and gunning to maintain class rankings. Play defense with that extra knowledge you’ve acquired as a 3L and strive for As.

Clinics, Extracurriculars, and Pro-Bono

Clinic applications are usually due mid-way through spring-semester, but if your school has leftover openings, contemplate applying. The same concept extends to extracurriculars. Are there any law societies you meant to join, but never did? Or, is the school lacking a club you wish they had? Launch it yourself this year. Not only will you gain leadership skills, but also establish a personal legacy.

Another important activity to consider is pro-bono work. Depending on your state’s bar association, there may be a certain number of pro-bono hours to fulfill before applying to the respective bar. Completing them during law school gives you an advantage since financial aid support is available, as opposed to scrambling to find a job after that allows you to work, earn a salary, and gain pro bono hours simultaneously, all prior to being registered with your state’s bar.

The Bar

If you haven’t taken the MPRE yet, register for the March session or you’ll be forced to endure it after the major legal one. Also, start reviewing bar-prep courses or find a tutor to determine which best suits your learning style. Lastly, once your bar application is received, begin compiling the necessary materials to make submitting it easier.

Post-Bar Plans

First, if you haven’t received an offer for post-graduation work, decide whether you want a job, fellowship, or clerkship. Do you want to be an attorney, or would you prefer using the degree for other purposes? What about location? Do you know where you want to practice? Figure out the answers before your bar application is due.

Second, what are your immediate post-bar plans? After three years of hard work, plus a lifetime more ahead, you deserve a celebration! Organize an international backpacking trip, plan a weekend getaway, throw a week-long party, etc. Whatever it is, make sure you have a happy, post-bar reward in mind to keep motivated for taking and subsequently surviving the bar.

Say Yes to Events and Networking

If you’ve abstained from all school-wide socials and every Barristers’ Ball, this is your last chance to attend, not just as a law student, but most likely as a student ever (unless you plan on obtaining another degree). Allow yourself downtime to socialize with colleagues. Some of them may be traveling with you to future jobs where it will help to have an ally.

Additionally, if you’ve been slacking on networking events, dedicate any free time to getting involved in the legal community and becoming acquainted with the industry leaders in your field; especially if you haven’t secured a post-grad position yet.

The same logic applies to in-school networking. Request any necessary reference letters from professors; utilize resources that your law school offers, i.e., career services, alumni mentor lists, etc. If you foresee an administrator being a fortuitous contact in the future, introduce yourself now and befriend them while you still can.

Get in Shape

Between job interviews, graduation parties, bar-prep courses, and celebrating with post-bar vacation plans, you’ll want to be in amazing shape. If you’ve morphed into a law-library sloth, change your lifestyle now. Exercise routines and healthy eating habits are only going to get harder as you age and continue your trajectory of building a successful legal career.

Most importantly, as you embark on your final law school journey that is 3L year, remember to embrace every opportunity and enjoy each moment of it because not only will you never repeat this experience, but also it could be awhile before you reach the upper echelons of a hierarchy again.


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About Jaclyn Wishnia

Jaclyn Wishnia graduated from Fordham University with a double major in Journalism and the Classics. Upon graduation, she accepted a role as a paralegal. After several years of working for both criminal and entertainment law firms, she decided to pursue her passion, to become an attorney, and enrolled in law school. She is currently a 2L at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law located in New York, NY. Additionally, she serves as a staff editor for Cardozo's Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, Treasurer of Cardozo's Entertainment Law Society, and is a student liaison for the NYS Bar EASL committee.

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