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#DearFindLaw: Study Groups; Why 1Ls Should Be Thinking About Summer

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on October 21, 2014 12:18 PM

#DearFindLaw - Advice for New Lawyers and Law Students from @FindLawLP

Today's #DearFindLaw deals with 1L dilemmas. Now that you're getting the hang of law school, should you join or form one of these study groups everyone's talking about? And while you're at it, is it too early to think about this summer?

Are Study Groups Worth It?

Law school study groups will be forever memorialized in popular culture thanks to the smarmy, backstabbing students in "The Paper Chase" -- aka "The Only Movie About Law School, Other Than 'Legally Blonde.'"

In reality, even though there's not that much backstabbing going on at law school anymore, study groups do remain a viable method for learning the material, especially for people who learn better by talking than by listening.

The Center for Teaching & Learning at BYU actually has a pretty good post about establishing study groups, which includes logistical concerns (how often do we meet?) and procedural concerns (establishing goals and objectives for each study session). You don't want your study group sessions to turn into pointless kvetching (that's what YouTube comments are for).

Study groups, of course, are only one way to learn. Anyone who claims that his or her method of studying is the only way to study is full of it. You should study according to the method that's best for you. For some people, that's in a whisper-quiet library; for others, that's in a moderately noisy coffee shop.

But if you like talking things through with other people, then yes, it's likely a study group can help -- so long as you can make it work. Remember that it's a give-and-take, so don't show up to a study group hoping everyone else will teach you the material, and conversely, don't invite people into a study group if you don't think they have something to offer.

Why 1Ls Should Be Thinking Ahead to Summer

The summer after the first year of law school isn't as pre-planned as the other summers. 2Ls go off to their summer associate jobs; 3Ls study for the bar exam. But what does a 1L -- excuse me, "rising 2L" -- do with his or her summer vacation?

If you want to find an internship, the time to start looking is now. Judicial externships (non-paying work for a judge), law firm internships, and nonprofit internships are all excellent ways to get practice experience and make some resume-friendly friends. Unfortunately, few places will pay you to work there because you've just finished your first year and you don't know anything other than the Model Penal Code definition of insanity (which you'll never have to know again). Whatever you decide to do, think about it now, because December and January are when you should be applying for these gigs.

If your law school offers summer classes, that's a good way to knock out some credits. The advantage is the classes are smaller and you can get an internship during the school year, when there's less competition for internships (because everyone else in class). Most places hire legal interns year-round, so don't think that summer is the only time you can intern.

Law students and recent grads, send us your questions! Write to us via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals) using the hashtag #DearFindLaw.

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