Jump to content

Preparing for 1L


Patient0L

Recommended Posts

Patient0L
  • Law Student

I’m currently waiting to hear back from schools and it looks like, next September, I’ll be likely going somewhere that I will be looking to transfer out of for the following year.


Obviously to transfer I will need good grades!


Q: How can I prep myself now to set myself up for better grades first semester 1L?

 

Is there any thing I can read now which will help me gain familiarity with any of the material? I’m thinking that a little familiarity will make things less foreign, and thus a tiny bit easier?


Or is there anything that people struggle to figure out 1st semester that I could look into now to take off my plate in Sept. (Like maybe figuring out how to use a law library?)

Literally all and every suggestion is welcome! 


I’m cool with putting in the work now.

 

Thanks!

 

Mod Note: The original title was "Getting a leg up on 1L - Seriously!". It's been edited as the post is being pinned.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whist
  • Law Student

The reason people say to not try and learn law school before you get there is because you risk teaching yourself something incorrectly. Grades are also dependent on giving individual profs what they want, so you literally can’t learn that ahead of time.

That being said, you could safely familiarize yourself ahead of time with the basic structure of the court system, federally and provincially. Using a law library in my experience works the same as using the library in undergrad. You could also practice reading dense text - find some articles or an interesting book or three. 

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Patient0L
  • Law Student

Thanks!

 

I’ll brush up on the structure of the courts in Canada. I literally have no idea now, so that helps!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Patient0L
  • Law Student

Thanks! 
 

I objectively know nothing about Canadian history so I’ll start there!

 

When does one start applying for summer jobs/clinics and which of these do you think would look better on a transfer application? I’m from a completely different field (and a mature student) so any resources for legal job cover letters / resumes would be great! 
 


 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

GGrievous
  • Law Student
7 minutes ago, bsketch said:

Thanks! 
 

I objectively know nothing about Canadian history so I’ll start there!

 

When does one start applying for summer jobs/clinics and which of these do you think would look better on a transfer application? I’m from a completely different field (and a mature student) so any resources for legal job cover letters / resumes would be great! 
 


 

 

 

 

I think it’s too soon to even worry about this. I mean by all means seek the info if you like, and most of it will be available on the website of the school you got into. But you said you’re still waiting to hear back from other schools, it’s still relatively early so transferring might my even be a thing you have to worry about. I really don’t think you can put yourself in a better position before you even start. Why are you so sure you’ll be transferring out? 

Edited by Barry
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

syh-0120
  • Law Student

On that note of things I wish I had done before law school, I wish I read more books. I am not particularly confident in writing or reading, so if you need something to pass time over the summer I suggest you read for leisure.  

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

99problems
  • Lawyer
8 hours ago, bsketch said:

I’m currently waiting to hear back from schools and it looks like, next September, I’ll be likely going somewhere that I will be looking to transfer out of for the following year.


Obviously to transfer I will need good grades!


Q: How can I prep myself now to set myself up for better grades first semester 1L?

 

Is there any thing I can read now which will help me gain familiarity with any of the material? I’m thinking that a little familiarity will make things less foreign, and thus a tiny bit easier?


Or is there anything that people struggle to figure out 1st semester that I could look into now to take off my plate in Sept. (Like maybe figuring out how to use a law library?)

Literally all and every suggestion is welcome! 


I’m cool with putting in the work now.

 

Thanks!

 

You probably can't do much in terms of learning the law. You will be able to learn a substantive course just by reading a summary when you learned how the law works. That is the reason why 0L preparation doesn't help much. Further, each prof is different and uses different textbooks and materials. This is the kind of information you don't have access to now.

If you are cool with putting the work now and not enjoying your summer instead, I suggest reading a couple of random cases (maybe recent decisions of the SCC). It will familiarize you with some of the most-used legalese. Also, it will help you on how to read a case. No one will teach you how to read a case; it is something that you have to figure out on your own. I am not suggesting understanding the law or statutes, but being able to differentiate between facts, applicable law, and the application of the law to the facts. This may be difficult when you have no legal knowledge but still is better than nothing. You will spend a significant portion of your time in your first semester trying to figure out a case, which would be easier than what I just recommended since you will be somewhat familiar with the topic.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Goblin King
  • Law Student
10 hours ago, bsketch said:

I’m currently waiting to hear back from schools and it looks like, next September, I’ll be likely going somewhere that I will be looking to transfer out of for the following year.


Obviously to transfer I will need good grades!


Q: How can I prep myself now to set myself up for better grades first semester 1L?

 

Is there any thing I can read now which will help me gain familiarity with any of the material? I’m thinking that a little familiarity will make things less foreign, and thus a tiny bit easier?


Or is there anything that people struggle to figure out 1st semester that I could look into now to take off my plate in Sept. (Like maybe figuring out how to use a law library?)

Literally all and every suggestion is welcome! 


I’m cool with putting in the work now.

 

Thanks!

 

I really think this can only do more harm than good. Learning the law without access to proper materials (heavily edited cases) and instruction may lead you to interpret things wrong. For example, Harrison v Carswell is equally about control and possession defining the right to exclude as it is about balancing public vs private rights in a pre Charter world. Learning nothing is better than putting in the effort and learning it wrong. I would recommend just relaxing this summer, putting yourself in the best mental headspace to deal with the marathon of 1L. If you choose not to take this advice, I would recommend reading non-fiction in subjects you're not familiar with. Get good at synthesizing the main point from a set of facts or principles that you're unfamiliar with. I think literary criticism is great for this. This is a low stakes exercise bc if you get it wrong, at least you won't have to engage with the material again. BUT PLEASE FUCKING RELAX.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

LMP
  • Articling Student
3 hours ago, bsketch said:

Thanks! 
 

I objectively know nothing about Canadian history so I’ll start there!

 

When does one start applying for summer jobs/clinics and which of these do you think would look better on a transfer application? I’m from a completely different field (and a mature student) so any resources for legal job cover letters / resumes would be great! 
 


 

 

 

 

You apply for those opportunities in January of your first year. 

But there will be applications in October of your first year as well. 

Having some resources ready will be of value.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

CheeseToast
  • Law Student
3 hours ago, not not a lawyer said:

I suggest reading a couple of random cases (maybe recent decisions of the SCC). It will familiarize you with some of the most-used legalese. Also, it will help you on how to read a case. No one will teach you how to read a case; it is something that you have to figure out on your own.

Disagree with everything you say here.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Goblin King
  • Law Student
7 minutes ago, CheeseToast said:

Disagree with everything you say here.

I mean, I suppose there could be differences between law schools, but yeah, in my experience you're taught to read a case both formally and through osmosis, just based on how your instructors will extract principles from your readings. I also wouldn't recommend going straight to recent SCC cases on unsettled areas of law. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

undertheletter
  • Law Student

I'll echo that there isn't much for you to do that would yield any benefit. Don't bother reading cases and do NOT try to teach yourself law school material. It will likely lead to confusion and if you start this early you could burn out by the time you're actually examined on it.

If you're interested, read the Canadian Constitution by Adam Dodek - I thought it was a good backgrounder on our court/legal system and history. Don't be weird and take notes - just read it casually. In that vein, I'd say you should read often. Find something you like to read and read it! Even if you don't like reading, you should get used to it.

Write a (good) generic cover letter and make sure you have an updated resume. Don't worry about due dates or the application process itself - just prep those things so you can adjust and submit them quicker when the time comes.

Otherwise - relax, sleep, and seize your time (to do things you like) before you're inundated with law school work/EC's etc.

Edited by undertheletter
  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kid Presentable

Practice your typing. Seriously. Many of your classes will likely have timed exams and it will benefit your grade if you can get more words on the page faster than your classmates.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Patient0L
  • Law Student
17 minutes ago, undertheletter said:

I'll echo that there isn't much for you to do that would yield any benefit. Don't bother reading cases and do NOT try to teach yourself law school material. It will likely lead to confusion and if you start this early you could burn out by the time you're actually examined on it.

If you're interested, read the Canadian Constitution by Adam Dodek - I thought it was a good backgrounder on our court/legal system and history. Don't be weird and take notes - just read it casually. In that vein, I'd say you should read often. Find something you like to read and read it! Even if you don't like reading, you should get used to it.

Write a (good) generic cover letter and make sure you have an updated resume. Don't worry about due dates or the application process itself - just prep those things so you can adjust and submit them quicker when the time comes.

Otherwise - relax, sleep, and seize your time (to do things you like) before you're inundated with law school work/EC's etc.

Nice! I just bought Canadian Constitution this morning! Glad I’m on the right track…

 

Also got Is Eating People Wrong? and The Law School Book, both by Hutchinson.

 

I currently have a preschooler so relaxing and sleeping isn’t an option 🙃

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dad
  • Law Student

Read a lot and work on your writing. 

A few books I found helpful are: 

- Writing To Win

- Thinking Like a Lawyer

- Getting to Maybe 

I also read about logic, legal reasoning, legal history, etc.

  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Patient0L
  • Law Student
7 hours ago, Dad said:

Read a lot and work on your writing. 

A few books I found helpful are: 

- Writing To Win

- Thinking Like a Lawyer

- Getting to Maybe 

I also read about logic, legal reasoning, legal history, etc.

Thank you!

 

I’ve been wanting to check out Thinking Like a Lawyer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Patient0L
  • Law Student
20 hours ago, Barry said:

I think it’s too soon to even worry about this. I mean by all means seek the info if you like, and most of it will be available on the website of the school you got into. But you said you’re still waiting to hear back from other schools, it’s still relatively early so transferring might my even be a thing you have to worry about. I really don’t think you can put yourself in a better position before you even start. Why are you so sure you’ll be transferring out? 

Re:transferring. Life circumstances 😕  I really like the school and hope everything works out! Doesn’t hurt to get a leg up tho!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

GGrievous
  • Law Student
55 minutes ago, Patient0L said:

Re:transferring. Life circumstances 😕  I really like the school and hope everything works out! Doesn’t hurt to get a leg up tho!

Hope it does work out! 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

lawjunkie
  • Law Student
On 1/23/2022 at 10:24 AM, Patient0L said:

I’m currently waiting to hear back from schools and it looks like, next September, I’ll be likely going somewhere that I will be looking to transfer out of for the following year.


Obviously to transfer I will need good grades!


Q: How can I prep myself now to set myself up for better grades first semester 1L?

 

Is there any thing I can read now which will help me gain familiarity with any of the material? I’m thinking that a little familiarity will make things less foreign, and thus a tiny bit easier?


Or is there anything that people struggle to figure out 1st semester that I could look into now to take off my plate in Sept. (Like maybe figuring out how to use a law library?)

Literally all and every suggestion is welcome! 


I’m cool with putting in the work now.

 

Thanks!

 

I transferred.  my advice: focus on school when you get there - don't burn out trying to figure it out right now. It's a learning curve and enjoyable experience...don't ruin your year trying to prepare for it. Also keep in mind, transffering is a big "If" so be okay with the idea that you might have to stay at your original school. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

capitalttruth
  • Articling Student

One of the only ways you can get good grades in law school is learning how to properly prepare for and properly write exams. You'll have no idea how to do that until you've taken at least one exam and can review it with your prof. There is literally nothing worth doing in terms of substantive prep before law school. It is a waste of time.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

wallsunflower
  • Law Student

I had the same question as you when I was 0L. Here are my two cents:

It cannot be stressed enough that you will not have as much time to be with family/friends outside of law school or focus on your hobbies. Also, enjoy all the full nights of sleep that you can get -- these opportunities will slowly begin to vanish as soon as 1L hits.

As for preparation, I recommend increasing your reading comprehension and speed, as well as typing skills (I believe there are free online courses if you do a quick internet search). These skills will come in handy when you are in law school and when you step into practice. 

Further, researching the law school clinics or summer jobs you wish to apply for and drafting resume & cover letters in advance will help ease the stress when the time comes. I suggest looking at cover letter/resume guidelines posted by some law schools in Canada; it will be a good starting point. 

Lastly, closer to the start of your semester, it would not hurt to learn the basics of case briefing. I believe law schools also host sessions for this at the beginning of the semester, and your professors will most likely explain it as well. However, be mindful that your case briefing style/skills may significantly change as you learn the material. My case briefs from the beginning of classes seem like a joke now compared to the end of the semester. 

I want to emphasize that your law school will teach you the basics of 1L, and you will acquire these skills as you are learning the material. Enjoy your time before law school as much as possible and do the things you love!! 

Best of luck in your upcoming studies 🙂 

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By accessing this website, you agree to abide by our Terms of Use. YOU EXPRESSLY ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT YOU WILL NOT CONSTRUE ANY POST ON THIS WEBSITE AS PROVIDING LEGAL ADVICE EVEN IF SUCH POST IS MADE BY A PERSON CLAIMING TO BE A LAWYER. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.