Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Law School Progress In A Nutshell

I should add this to the Wiki!

Via Feminist Law Profs, Law School Progress (In A Nutshell) (but insert caveat in every year do not over-commit). I will edit this for some salient points:

First Year ….“They Scare You Death”


  1. Take your basic law courses (Contracts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Torts, Federal Civil Procedures, Research and Writing)
  2. If you are taking the California bar exam, be sure to register with the California State Bar Association within 90 days (starting from first day of law school) with the California Bar Association. Otherwise there will be heavy, heavy late fees.
  3. Sign-up for a bar preparation course. If you sign-up during your first year, you will receive the most discount. You also get free things like highlighters, pens, candies, study guides.
  4. Go to LexisNexis and Westlaw (legal database) training sessions. They really help you to become a better researcher, and you get lots of cool freebies (points for free iPod, DVD’s, study guides, plane tickets, brand name bags, and more).


  1. Study abroad (Why not? It’s your only time free), OR
  2. Work at non-profit organization (look for fellowship opportunities)
  3. Work at private firms (this might be hard for the 1L’s, since you have to wait until December 1st to apply, and most paid positions are highly competitive)
    Sometime around Summer (July), your school’s on-campus interview will be open for bidding (yes, you have to bid for interviews). This means you have to submit your transcript and a resume. Your first year grades are very important if you are looking for BigLaw jobs.
  4. You will find out if you made it into your school’s law review. People in law review are considered creme of the crop. Do not despair if you do not make it in. There are other things you can do, such as clerking for other journals, compete in moot court or trial teams, and publishing a legal paper, etc.

Second Year – “They Work You to Death”


  1. Take your law school courses. You get to pick the schedule and specialize in area of law, if you choose to do so.
  2. Continue to submit bids for interviews. Possibly going out of town for interviews. At one point you will wonder how you are able to handle double-load of school work, juggle your extra-curricular commitments, ace these interviews, handle rejections/acceptances, and maintain your sanity. But you can do it.
  3. If you do not get any offers during Fall Semester, continue to submit bids during your Spring Semester until you have secured a job. For most law students, the second year summer clerkship is the most important part of their law school agenda. Most students will secure an offer from the firm upon completion of the clerkship. This is condition based on passing the bar, of course. Many large law firms compensate or will pay for the bar review courses. Most non-profit organizations and government entities will not.
  4. Try out for moot court or trial team or submit papers.
  5. Take the Multi-state Professional Responsibilities Examination (aka “MPRE”) sometime in Spring semester (March). Do it while you are still on a roll. Your second year is the craziest year, but it is the year you have the most energy. If you have taken Ethics or Evidence, this will help you to better understand the material. BarBri and other bar prep programs have free MPRE study guides for their paid members.
  6. Have trouble with interviews? Talk to career services. Learn from mock interviews, resume edits, and pre-arranged mock lunch interviews. Talk to alumni and your peers.


Learn everything you can. Learn from your mistakes. Talk to other attorneys about their work in general. Get a feel to see if this is where you want to be.
Enjoy yourself.

Third Year – “They Bore You to Death”


  1. Take some practical courses, if your school offers them. Examples may include clinics or externships. Vary your course load. Get a feel of the practice.
  2. Make time for yourself. Senioritis may hit you as early as Fall Semester. Be sure to space out your workload so you don’t burn out early.
  3. Learn to relax and release nervous energy. Learn to focus and build up a plan for the bar examination practice.
  4. Save some money. You never know what surprise expenses might pop up. (e.g. Paying for the bar exam or bar prep courses, if your law firm is not paying for them).
  5. If you have not taken the MPRE yet, Fall Semester is the time! Try to get it over with ASAP.
  6. In Spring, you will register for the bar exam. It costs several hundred dollars. Most states have lengthy applications (re: your character fitness, work experience, previous addresses, etc.)

  1. Really, from 3rd week of May until end of July, you will be buried in bar examination preparation. No time for play, plenty of work ahead (11 weeks of torture)!
  2. Spend a month healing after taking the bar exam. Book a cruise! Spend time with your loved ones.
  3. Waiting anxiously until November to find out if you have passed the bar or not.

Scared shitless yet? I know I am. And this is me editing this Nutshell down to a "what you can do and not fail" list of things to do--Shellvester emphasizes networking, which is valuable, yes, but more so after you become a lawyer. Also, you can learn how to do Lexis and Westlaw without going to sessions, but then again I really suck at that. So what do I know. I burnt out my entire 2L year and didn't really recover until my 3L year, second semester, and totally did too much my 1L year. Pretty much everything sucked except for my 3L year. It was a blur. I disappeared from law school because I wanted to avoid most people and the entire school, despite living across the street. Because of law school, I am wary of organizations and institutitional politics: I will never try for leadership positions in any organization again. That I now do organizational studies is particularly ironic, as is the fact that I study social networks and realize how valuable they are for career-enhancement.

See also Shellvester's Rough Guide To Law School.


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