Dear 1L: How to Navigate Your 1L Summer (While Maintaining Your Sanity)

Written by David Wang, Columnist

Dear 1L,

Well, it’s that great time of the year again: end-of-the-year shenanigans, finals, the last Bar Review. With so much coming together towards the end, it’s also important to look ahead. Sadly, even after the fun finals festival, 1Ls typically enter into the world of the write-on competition, EIW, and summer internships. With that in mind, here are some helpful tips and advice to navigate through this exciting adventure at the end of the year (a.k.a. what I would have done if I could build a time machine and go back to 1L)!

1)    Pace yourself. Focus on TLC and treating yourself at the end of finals. Take the moment to celebrate you. Go watch a movie, hang out with friends, enjoy the local sights at Times Square—but whatever you do, don’t jump into the write-on competition immediately! You have two weeks—use the first few days to slow down and decompress. Your writing will be more effective if you attack the competition after a fresh rest!

2)    Draw inspiration from the city. We are so lucky to be in the heart of New York City. Take advantage of the environment around us; the write-on doesn’t have to be done in your apartment or in the law library. Go to the Met for a few hours and write amongst great art masterpieces; or, pop a squat in Central Park and enjoy the (hopefully) nice summer weather.

3)    Proofreed, Prufread, and PROOFREAD. Spend time editing your work, take the word count seriously, and follow directions carefully. This is the easiest and saddest area to lose points because you have total control here!

4)    Take the writing packet in strides. The competition is designed to be a marathon, not a sprint. Take apart each section carefully and allocate time appropriately, but don’t attempt to do everything at once. Do some Bluebooking, read some articles, work on the personal statement, come back to the Bluebook, work on your comment, but do work in chunks and manageable pieces—not all at once!

Take chances, make mistakes, get messy! – Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus

And now on to the fun stuff…do you have any advice for a summer internship????? Why yes, we do!

1)    Ask questions—but with gravitas. Be sure to ask lots of questions if anything is unclear. Most employers expect that 1L students are interning to learn and gain experience in the legal field, so as part of the educational experience, questions are expected. Or as my childhood hero/spirit animal Ms. Frizzle would say, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” That being said, before you ask questions, you may want to think about suggesting some possible answers on your own—this will show your enthusiasm and positive attitude.

2)    Tea with strangers. Spend time getting to know the lawyers and other professionals working at your job site—offer to take them out for coffee/tea/water/whatever for 15 minutes and understand their background and careers. Not only will this expand your own knowledge of different career possibilities, but also it can help grow your network.

3)    Positivity, no matter what. A positive attitude will take you far. Even if you’re given a mundane task, treat it with the utmost care, respect, and enthusiasm. Often, these “simple” tasks are actually tests to see if you are ready to handle bigger assignments. Doing these tasks well and with great energy will make you stand out and help your supervisor recognize your talents!

I hope this helps with relieving some of the stress of the upcoming weeks. Remember, we’re approaching the goal line, and you will have successfully completed your first year of law school. You deserve praise for making it this far—now finish strong and let the good times roll!


Published by

The Commentator

The Commentator is the official student newspaper of New York University School of Law and a seven-time winner of the American Bar Association’s Top Law School Newspaper Award. Founded over 50 years ago in 1966 as a biweekly print publication, The Commentator was re-launched as an online newspaper in 2015.

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