As a first-year law student, you are about to embark on an extraordinary journey. Sure, you’ve already earned an undergraduate degree, survived the rigors of passing the LSAT and gained acceptance into law school. Now it is time to hit the books and ace your first year.

Passing your law classes with top grades can be challenging. That’s why it’s important to know how to prepare for your first year of law school. Here are 5 first-year law school tips that can set you up for success.

1. Learn the IRAC Format

IRAC is an acronym that stands for: Issue, Rule, Application and Conclusion. Some law schools may offer slight variations on this technique. However, they all engage in conversations about legal precedence and previous rulings by filtering the information through a common lens. The goal of IRAC is to help you process information by deconstructing and reconstructing an argument or a position.  

Throughout your time as a first-year law student, you’ll be expected to generate written content and legal analysis through this application.  At times, the application of IRAC can feel like learning a new language. So, get started and committed to it right away.

2. Avoid Procrastination

Are you a habitual procrastinator who always finds that extra “juice” when the pressure is intense, and the deadline is looming? If so, you should change that approach immediately. It’s difficult to be successful when you procrastinate.

Law school offers a tremendous amount of reading—likely much more than you encountered in your undergraduate studies. Furthermore, legal documents aren’t designed for last-minute skimming.

Your best approach is to create new and earlier deadlines for yourself that push you ahead of schedule. Even if this seems counterintuitive to you, try it. Being proactive instead of reactive ensures that work doesn’t pile up. If nothing else, this can help ease some of the inevitable stress that you are sure to encounter.

And speaking of stress…

3. Carefully Monitor and Manage Your Health

Our bodies perform best when we eat well, exercise and get ample sleep. Regardless of your goals, it isn’t a good idea to disregard your physical needs.

Law school is a bit of a dichotomy with competing messages. On one hand, you will be encouraged to network and attend social gatherings. Simultaneously, you will have to apply self-discipline and time management skills. Here are a few lifestyle guidelines you can follow.

  • Maintain a consistent and nutritious diet.
  • Exercise at least every other day.
  • Create a schedule that allows for 7 hours of sleep per night.

If you’re wondering how to prepare for your first year of law school, perhaps no advice is more important than staying keenly aware of your own physical and mental health.

4. Take Advantage of Every Resource

One day you will, as a lawyer, make a living by advocating for others. This is the time of your life when you need to advocate for yourself.

Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help or seek counsel. There are others who understand what you’re experiencing. Professors, advisors, peers and family are tremendous sources of support.

5. Schedule Time for Your Hobbies

Sure, most of these first-year law school tips focus on managing challenges via a no-nonsense and well-regimented lifestyle, but scheduling “down” time is a huge step towards maintaining your sanity.

Don’t sacrifice an important hobby or pastime that keeps you centered. Remember the positive parts of who you were before you became a law student and cultivate those along the way.

Finally, if you’re a woman of color who’s looking to join a network within the legal profession, Corporate Counsel Women of Color is a great place to begin your journey. Sign up for a Premier Membership with CCWC today.

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