Heather O’Connor is a 3L. After a seven year marriage and three kids, Heather went through a divorce that left her questioning what to do with her life. She decided to become an attorney and has never looked back since beginning the long journey. She entered a local community college after...
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You Got Into Law School - Now What?
First year you have no choice as to what classes you take or what your schedule will be like. You will be assigned to one of three sections. The people in this section will be your classmates, in every class, for the rest of the year. So make friends. These are the people you will need to rely on if you miss class and need notes, have questions about an assignment, or just want to talk something out. The great thing about the students at this school is that the majority of the other students are willing to help you out in these instances. It's not so competitive that no one is willing to fill you in on something you missed or give you wrong information, which I have heard happens at other schools. I have actually found facebook comes in handy in these situations - pop a question in your status and you're more than likely to get an answer very quickly. This is also one of the very few ways sites like facebook can be used beneficially as it relates to school. (Of course, it's also a good stress buster - I can't think of a better way to take my mind off of law school than to tend to my zoo or play mafia wars) ;)
First semester, you will take Criminal Law, Torts, Contracts, Civil Procedure, and Legal Methods (our schools legal writing and research training class). Although many people ask me what my major is, you do not need to choose a major in law school at any point. You learn it all. I look at law school as a way to try out a little bit of everything to see what you like best. The majority of students have no idea what area of law they actually want to practice in. If you come into law school knowing what you want to do later, you're lucky, or you might just end up changing your mind. My suggestion is even if you think you know what you want, keep an open mind - you never know if you might discover something you like better.
Depending upon your professor, you may have a midterm, but generally your entire grade will rest on one final taken at the end of the semester per class. It's scary because it's hard to know if you're doing things right until you get your grades back, but that's how it goes. Legal Methods is slightly different. You will have smaller assignments as well as a first and second submission of a legal memo. This is the class where you will be able to get the best idea of where you stand because you get feedback from the professors on how you're doing and what you need work on.
Second semester, Criminal Law gets dropped and you will pick up Property. Property demands a lot of time and work. I remember feeling like Property seemed to be all I did. It felt like my schedule consisted Civ Pro, Property, Property, Property, Torts, Property, Property, Property, Contracts, Property, Property, Property, etc. It can be overwhelming at times. For Legal Methods second semester, you will be working on a Legal Brief. This allows you to be a little more creative in your writing, so I liked working on this assignment better. Near the end of the semester, you'll get to pick some of your elective classes for the beginning of your second year. This is exciting because you feel like you finally have a say over your education.
First year is a lot of wandering around, wondering if you are doing it all right. I describe it as a lot of trial and error. If you get it right the first time, you are very lucky. But if you work hard and pay attention, and do ALL your reading, you are probably on the right track. =)