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A Guide for OneLs—the OneL Wiki

The Legal Writing Prof Blog and the Law Librarian Blog both recently mentioned a wiki page devoted to making it through your first year of law school. It is not yet exhaustive, but there are several good tips there—especially the one about asking librarians for help!

A Guide for OneLs—Stress Management

Congratulations! You are now in the final stretch of you first semester, which is usually the hardest one. All you have to do is survive a few more classes and finals. It is, however, when you are almost done that the stress gets the worst. We suggested that you take a little time for yourself earlier, and now we want to remind you again. Sleep, food, and relaxation are more important than ever.

The Law Magazine Blog has an entry on managing stress, and it is a pretty good one. Not everything will be for you, we understand that you can drop everything at the end of the day during finals, but there are lots of good suggestions for little things that you can to maintain your mental health. Finals are hard—but you don’t need to make them any harder. Take care of yourself.

A Guide for OneLs—Mental Tips and Tricks

With finals right around the corner it is easier than every to get stressed out, and to not play at the top of your game. The Law Magazine blog has posted a few things that you can do to keep sharp, including exercising, varying your stimulation, and the importance of repetition. There is nothing too revolutionary in the article, but remembering little things like exercising is especially important in times when you are more inclined to be stressed and overworked.

A Guide for OneLs—Explore Your Options

Last Friday we wrote about the lawyers that might have top roles in the new administration. These guys are not only interesting as a legal presence in our country, but also as a reminder that your JD is a gateway to far more than just the practice of law. There are any number of professions in which a law degree is useful that don’t fit the traditional mold. Although law school is similar to a vocational school in that it teaches you the skills necessary to practice a particular profession, it also promotes critical thinking and writing skills that are useful for numerous professions.

Some people go to law school knowing in advance that they are not interested in the traditional practice of law, but even if you have planned to be a lawyer since the third grade (and that’s wonderful if you have) it doesn’t hurt to take a quick look at the myriad of options available to you. There are several resources. To begin with, check out this article from the Law Student Division of the ABA. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. You might also want to take a look at one of the many books on the subject. We have several, including Nonlegal Careers For Lawyers, What Can You Do With a Law Degree? A Lawyers’ Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside & Around the Law, and Judgment Reversed: Alternative Careers For Lawyers.

A Guide for OneLs—The Socratic Method

There is an ongoing debate in the legal community about whether or not to use the Socratic Method. The Socratic Method derives its name from the philosopher Socrates’ tendency to ask questions that lead people to conclusions, rather than offer conclusions himself. In fact, Socrates claimed always to know nothing. Often Socrates was challenging people’s assumptions by leading them into contradictions, forcing them to rethink their preconceived notions.

Its application in law school is an interesting one. Unlike Socrates, your professors don’t claim to know nothing, so in some ways the Socratic Method is more like hiding the ball than a process of mutual discovery. But like Socrates, they are trying to get you to think for yourself. We don’t presume to actually try to address a debate that has raged for years, but we will point you in the direction of the Volokh Conspiracy, one of the most widely read legal blogs, where great legal minds argue the point themselves, and also offer some advice for how to respond to professors who use the technique.

A Guide for OneLs–Play a Little

There is no question that law school is tough.  And only a couple weeks into the new semester many OneLs are probably somewhat intimidated by the amount of work being assigned.  There is a lot of work, but sometimes if you don’t leave yourself time to relax you are a less effective worker anyway.

You will be a more effective student if you make sure to also take some time for yourself, maybe by participating in activities with fellow law students, or maybe just taking a study break to watch a movie.  At the very least, take small breaks.  It’s often a good idea to set a schedule for yourself–one hour of study, fifteen minutes of play, another hour of study, etc.

A Guide for OneLs–Food!

Remember to eat! Your first year is usually one of the busiest in law school, and it can be easy to drop a lunch here and there in all the whirl. It’s never a good idea, though. To really be at the top of your game you should make time for food and sleep.

In the interest of keeping our students happy and healthy we do allow eating in the library. We just ask that you let us know if you spill anything, and that you clean up after yourself. (Library lore has at least one amusing story of a student who lured a squirrel into the library by leaving a slice of pizza by an open window. Though it makes a good story, we’d rather not do it again.) Also, we are often the place where leftovers from parties and meetings wind up. If you are feeling peckish you might poke your head into the library and check the circ desk to see if there are any leftovers available. We also have a reference librarian with a candy bowl–come in for assistance and sugar!

Finally, we do have a lot of good local eateries nearby. Many of you have probably already noticed the Starbucks half a block away which caters to another basic need for most law students–caffeine.

A Guide for OneLs–Befriend the Natives!

We really are closing in on the beginning of school, and some future law students are probably getting pretty worried.  Law school is not all that different from any other school, but there are always things that you can do to make your experience better. One of those things is to make friends with some second and third year law students.  More experienced students will already know secrets about effective study habits, which water fountains are the coldest, and what professors are best for particular subjects.

Everyone will have a different law school experience, but it is always good to get the thoughts of someone else–and remember, the first contacts that you have in the professional world will be the people that you meet in law school.

A Guide for OneLs–Terminology

Brush up on the language.  Law frequently has terminology all its own, and it can be of great help to know the basic legal terms.  Black’s Law Dictionary is the best, and that is available on Westlaw, but if you really just want to know in a pinch you might try looking here or here.

A Guide for OneLs–Preparing to Start Law School

Coming to IU Law for the first time this fall?

We can help. Law school can be scary, but it’s not as bad as you think.  If you have any questions feel free to ask.  It never hurts to come in early and look around–introduce yourself to some professors, some support staff, and best of all, some librarians!  Knowing who can help is a great way to start any career.

Also, keep checking the BLAWg IN Bloom–we are going to keep offering suggestions for settling in.

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