Updated: Apr 16, 2021
Click here for Kristy Foreman's audio recording of this blog post: https://soundcloud.com/user-381880794/forereach-consulting-audio-recording-of-3-things-to-avoid-in-your-first-year-of-law-school
The first year of law school is always challenging, but the Class of 2023 is experiencing it like no class before it. The last thing 1L students need right now is to make avoidable mistakes that have long-term consequences. I have worked with law students for over a decade and witnessed some have to climb over hurdles they created for themselves early in their law school career. To avoid making the same mistakes, here are 3 things that you should try not to do in your first year of law school:
#1 - Don’t post anything on social media that future employers shouldn't see
The time has come to exercise good judgment about what you post on social media. Prospective employers are Googling you, even though it’s not appropriate for them to consider anything outside of a student’s application package. But I can tell you that this does happen (a lot), and the student never knows why they didn’t get the job. Before you post anything, view it through the eyes of a partner taking a peek online just before your interview. Even if you have the highest privacy settings or delete a questionable post, there is always a chance that a screenshot could find its way into an employer’s inbox.
# 2 - Don’t dive-bomb into debt
We all know that spiralling deeper into debt can limit your options down the road. But when you are in first year law and the bank gives you a sizeable line of credit, it can be difficult to remember that you have to pay it back eventually. Over the years, I have observed the consequences of having a deep financial hole to climb out of after law school. Many lawyers have complained to me that they wanted to make a career change, but they felt trapped under the weight of their student debt. In their minds, they had no choice but to slog it out until they paid it off. Very few students will be able to graduate from law school debt-free, but you can avoid being shackled to a job that makes you miserable if you try to be more financially responsible now.
#3 - Don’t let your ego get bruised
You made it into law school, so you're used to achieving academic success. Being an excellent student is a part of your self-identity. For many first-year law students, getting mid-term exam marks back can be a humbling experience (it was for me). Don’t let your mid-term grades give you a crisis of confidence. The beauty of the “help-don’t-hurt” mid-term exams is that you get a do-over. Don’t waste your energy wrestling with imposter syndrome. Talk to your professors, join a study group and do whatever else you need to do to nail your final exams and erase your mid-term marks. Most importantly, use this experience to grow and build up your resiliency. Given the cost of lawyer burn-out, employers would choose grit over straight A’s every time.