Advice for Law Students
We are in the process of visiting law school campuses with the North Carolina Bar Association. We provide pizza and speak to the incoming class to welcome them to the profession. I asked our claims attorneys to share some survival tips. I hope you find some of these helpful.
“For me, it was pretty basic. I just studied a lot. You have to go into it with a commitment that you are going to do this thing for three years and then it will all be over. Final exams are everything in law school. I started studying for finals a long, long time before the exam. The other thing I would say is to learn to write like a lawyer. For some people, this is not natural, but it is an absolute necessity if you want to do well in law school and as a practicing lawyer. You can know everything that you need to know for the exam and still not do well if you can’t write like a lawyer.” Will Graebe, Vice-President of Claims
“You need to realize that you have been a type A personality all your life which included over achieving and being at the top of your class. Well, the higher up the mountain you go, the tougher the competition. Unlike high school and college, their entire class is made up of over achievers. You need a new mindset. If you can book a class, be in the top 5% or make law review, great. However, the majority of you won’t. Sometimes, success is just about surviving. And making progress may not be about taking a step forward, but putting your head down in a storm, hanging on to where you are and not being pushed backwards. The hard part of your first semester is you have to learn to think in an entirely different way and it’s tough. Don’t quit. You may not think you have it, but even as hard as you’ve worked in college, you’ve got at least 1-2 more gears you don’t even know you have. Dig deep and find them. Don’t get jealous of those who get higher grades with seemingly less effort. Don’t focus on them as the competition. The competition is against you. Sometimes, even a C and being middle of the class can be a win. This is the REAL “Survival” reality show.” Wayne Stephenson, Claims Counsel
“Take it all in stride. 1L year is designed to leave you addled. Nobody’s first set of grades has anything to do with real competence, passing the bar, or working after the bar. Know your stress outlet. Learning to keep your stress in check can help you make better decisions not only during law school, but when you’re practicing law. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. We’re all here to help each other, and a more experienced attorney won’t mind sharing advice. Don’t forget your interests. In most schools, 1Ls take no electives. While you’re taking care of basic ABA course requirements – think of it as general college – keep an eye on professors and courses for the years ahead. Talk to the professors and their students to see what the courses are all about. Seek practical experience. Work for free. Work in private practice and work for the public. Work in state law, then try a little federal. Work for a big firm, then for a small one. The best way to find the job for you is to start doing it before you have to.” John Hester, Jr. 2010 law school graduate.