Law School Survival Tips From Our BOG

By Jeffery Leon

August 31, 2016

Yale Law Library

Starting a new school year is tough for any student, but it can be particularly nerve-wracking for aspiring lawyers! Here, members of the D.C. Bar's Board of Governors talk about what they wish they knew while in law school, and offer advice on how law students can make the most of their time.

Jessica E. Adler (The Ohio State University College of Law)
The Law Office of Jessica E. Adler

"It is never too early to start networking! In the legal profession, this is a very important skill and can help you obtain mentors, advice, jobs, and clients. Work on building this skill in addition to studying."

Susan Bloch (University of Michigan Law School)
Georgetown University Law Center

Bloch, who has the perspective of both as a former law student and now as professor at Georgetown Law, says:

"Remember that everyone else starting in a law program is as confused and anxious as you are.

Read every assignment, be prepared for class, and review your notes after class.

Start outlining early, whenever you finish a chapter.

Look at old exams, but not until the middle of semester;earlier will probably scare you!

Keep an open mind about your future and what to do after graduation—there is more to life than big law firms.

Study groups are useful—if used for studying."

Moses Cook (Washington University School of Law)
DC Law Students in Court

"I was unaware going into law school just how profound an impact I could make with my degree, especially in creating lasting social change. I have been supervising law students for over a decade, and it never ceases to surprise me how many of them are unaware of how much of a difference they can make."

To those about to enter law school, Cook offers this advice: "Know that with your degree, you can bring justice to those abused, neglected, or abandoned by the criminal and civil justice system. Make sure you take as many practical-based courses as you can. Get experience in different areas of the law. Know that just because something is 'legal' doesn't mean it is just. You can correct injustices with your degree. Have the confidence to jump in and not be afraid to feel uncomfortable as you explore what you can do to help others in need."

Patrick McGlone (The George Washington University Law School)
Ullico Inc.

"Learn to read as fast as you can without sacrificing comprehension. The volume of reading, especially for 1Ls, can be daunting!"

Leah Quadrino (Fordham University School of Law)
Steptoe & Johnson LLP

"I joined Fordham Law's Moot Court Board because I loved it, but I had no idea how helpful that experience would be in the 'real world.' Any on-your-feet practice, with feedback from peers, professors, or practitioners, is invaluable. Even if the exact forum is not your ultimate focus, it does not matter. You will have learned to speak confidently while under pressure, and that is key in all areas of legal practice."

Annamaria Steward (The George Washington University Law School)
University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law

"Use all of the resources at your disposal: read all of your assignments, meet with your professors, form study groups with your classmates, talk to students who have taken the class before, meet with your deans at the first sign of trouble, and attend bar association educational programs. All of these resources will assist you in learning the law and how it relates to current legal and social issues."

Benjamin F. Wilson (Harvard Law School)
Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.

Wilson had a few pieces of advice for incoming law students:

"Do good work, but simply doing good or great work is never enough. Get allies in your corner who will recognize and speak up about your successes.

Develop a second skill. Have something to fall back on for those times when you can't pursue your first passion.

Build a network. You never know when the person sitting next to you may be in a position to be helpful, now or in the future.

Work hard to develop a client base and an independent practice.

Seek to serve your broader community and make time for your family and friends."