Law Student Voices: If I Did It All Over Again . . . Advice for Incoming 1Ls

Hello all! For those of you who do not know me, my name is Angela and I am a 3L at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. I am going to school full-time, and would ideally like to practice real estate or bankruptcy law.

Most of you reading this are probably incoming 1Ls, and to you, I will say this: Congratulations on everything you’ve achieved thus far, because very soon, you will feel as though you know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

But wait!, you may say: “I’ve read all the cases, I’ve looked at all of the supplements before class, I went to an early bird class!” I will tell you this right now, no matter how much preparation you have done prior to law school, you will still feel like you know nothing. This is an incredibly frustrating point in a law student’s life. You essentially go from feeling smart (because you have to be to enter law school) to feeling like that kid in undergrad who never read for class and was drunk/high during class. The professor will call on you, and you won’t know the answer to his question. Even worse, he won’t just pass over you (unless you have a nice professor—but they will not all be that nice). You will be forced to have a dialogue with the professor about a topic you’re unsure about, and most likely you’ll be wrong.

With all that negativity behind us now, what is the best piece of advice I have for incoming 1Ls?


Now, what does that possibly mean?

It means that everyone in your life, from family to friends to significant others, needs to be examined BEFORE you walk into your first day of law school. Inevitably, you know people who are incredibly supportive. Those people are important. But wait! I am going to complicate things more by saying that not all people need the same kind of people in their 1L life.


For example, as a 1L I needed people to bounce ideas off of. I would get out of class at 5:30 and want to talk over my day. Extensively. Essentially, I needed people to talk to, not only about law school, but about the outside world as well. Believe me, the law school life tends to consume you during your first semester of law school. For me, I needed that balance between law school and the greater world.

I knew other people who would get out of the same class at 5:30, grab dinner, and then study until the library closed at 11. Those people liked to sleep in, so that schedule worked for them. Those people wouldn’t want the same “Let’s talk to each other for an extended period of time” people that I needed. They may talk to friends only once a week.

My point is that my friend and I would not have been happy with the same group of people. We had different needs. In the same way, you need to examine and decide what kind of friends you want to keep around, and what friends you will need to talk to before law school. For example, if you’re like my friend and keep to yourself most of the time, you may want to pull aside some talkative friends and explain that your time is valuable, and you won’t be able to talk to them every day. Same thing if you’re my personality type.

One BIG point that I want to make: Don’t waste any time on people who do not care about you and who do not understand your journey (especially if you’ve spoken to them about the situation). These people are POISON and will mess up your first semester grades. This applies mostly to relationships, although it can apply to friends as well. If you sit down with your significant other/friend and explain your concerns, and your significant other/friend ignores them, then DUMP THEM! I held on to someone who didn’t care about me for the majority of my first semester of law school. This individual was not a good fit for me because, after I explained my issues, nothing changed. I finally realized it . . . in early November.

Moral of the story: Don’t make the same mistakes I did! Examine your relationships NOW, before you are beat down by the stress of the first semester of law school. Better yet, enjoy the stress and learn from it—you will look back and smile (or grimace . . . ) after you’re done with your first semester.

This post was authored by Angela M. Biesiada, J.D. Candidate, Class of 2015, The John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois.


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