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New Law Students: What to Do During Your 1L Orientation

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on August 20, 2015 12:57 PM

Thousands of unprepared new law students will be heading off to law school in the next week or two, ready to give three years of life and thousands of dollars over for the chance of becoming a lawyer. The first stop on that journey? Law school orientation -- that weird, week-long introduction to law school.

If you're stressed about orientation, don't worry. If you're extremely excited, maybe bring your expectations down a bit. Orientation isn't great and it isn't terrible -- it's simply a chance to familiarize yourself with the law school and your classmates. Here are some tips to help you do orientation right.

Don't Worry About the Law

Tip one: if you're expecting orientation to give you a head start on becoming a law school master, you're going to be disappointed. There's nothing all that helpful about most law school orientations. You probably won't interact with many professors, you won't get insider tips on how to prepare for class, you won't be told how to dominate civil procedure. Instead, most orientations are a general easing in to the law school community, a chance to get familiar with the buildings, your classmates, and some of the basics of 1L life.

Use Orientation to Socialize

You don't have much reading to do during orientation. You're probably not going to get cold called during that presentation on why you're not supposed to contact employers until the end of the semester. You probably won't have this much free time again until your winter break. Make the best of it by taking advantage of the social opportunities. Get to know your fellow 1Ls. Go out for dinner or drinks together. You can even set up a study group of too, if you're that enthusiastic.

Get Familiar With the Campus

During most orientations, 1Ls have the place to themselves. It's still about a week until the rest of the law students return for class, so use the relative emptiness of the campus to explore. Stop in at the career center, check out the law library, and learn how to use the school's printing system. Also, think about where you'd like to spend your down time. Studying in the library? At a nearby café? Laying out in the yard? Survey the campus and find out what might be best for you.

Make Sure to Take Care of the Basics

With all the socializing and campus (or city) exploring, it's easy to forget why you're there: to start law school. Make sure you spend some time during orientation to get all your "first day of school" materials in order. Buy your books, highlighters, tabs and the like. Figure out how you're going to take notes. Make sure you know where your classes are meeting and when. You don't want to be the one to show up late on the first day. Then, when you've done all that, go out and grab another drink with your new classmates.

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