Should you prepare for 1L during the summer before law school? Yes! Check out my no nonsense 0L prep guide for how to prepare for 1L. I lay out some simple steps you can take to get a leg up on your 1L competition. Sound good? Let’s jump in!
Why Prepare for 1L?
Why prepare for 1L? The short answer is this: to lay a solid foundation for law school success.
The vast majority of law students will tell you not to prepare for law school during 0L (i.e., the summer before 1L). They will tell you that 0L prep is, at best, a waste of time. Keep in mind, however, that virtually all of these students will not finish 1L at the top of their class.
I ignored the groupthink about 0L prep and never looked back. As you know from reading about Law School Transfer Guide, I finished 1L at the top of my class and transferred to a T14 law school. Could I have succeeded in law school without 0L prep? Probably. Did I want to risk it? Absolutely not.
In sum, 0L prep will give you a tremendous advantage over your classmates and help lay a solid foundation for law school success.
How to Prepare for 1L?
Your 0L prep should focus first and foremost on developing the skills needed to excel on law school exams. A secondary consideration for 0L prep should be substantive law preparation.
Exam Prep for OL
Law school exams are in no way like undergraduate exams. Success on undergraduate exams does not equal success on law school exams. Accordingly, you need to develop the necessary skills to succeed on law school exams.
I read Getting to Maybe and How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams during 0L and you should too!
These books provide different but complimentary advice regarding law school exam strategy and tactics, so you should pick up a copy of each. You may want to skim through them again in late-November as you prepare for finals.
Getting to Maybe, written by Professors Fischl and Paul, provides an excellent introduction to and analysis of the types of exam questions you will encounter during your 1L year (e.g., issue spotting exams and policy exams).
Although Getting to Maybe does not advocate a formulaic method for law school exam taking, it’s chock-full of helpful tips and tricks for excelling on each type of law school exam.
The best part about Getting to Maybe is, in my opinion, the way it introduces readers to the concept that there is typically no “right” answer to a law school exam. (But there is a “best” answer.)
Professor Delaney’s book, How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams, is well-written, highly informative, and provides a slightly different perspective on law school test-taking than Getting to Maybe.
Indeed, Professor Delaney advocates the CIRIP (Conclusion, Issue, Rule, Interweaving, Policy) method for test-taking. CIRIP and others like it (e.g., CIRAC) are incredibly useful methods for structuring your law school exam essays.
To learn more about why this book is so helpful, check out my full review of How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams.
Substantive Law Prep for OL
Make no mistake, your 0L prep should focus mostly on developing law school test-taking skills. However, I found it extremely helpful to review, at a high level, the substantive law you will encounter during 1L.
I did this by skimming the supplements featured below prior to 1L. Remember, the goal of 0L prep is to familiarize yourself with the substantive law, not master it.
Civil Procedure (Examples and Explanations) — Seventh Edition, by Joseph Glannon
Concepts and Case Analysis in the Law of Contracts — Seventh Edition, by Marvin Chirelstein
Property (Examples and Explanations) — Fifth Edition, by Barlow Burke and Joseph Snoe
Understanding Criminal Law — Seventh Edition, by Joshua Dressler
The Law of Torts (Examples and Explanations) — Fifth Edition, by Joseph Glannon
Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies — Fifth Edition, by Erwin Chemerinsky
Because 1L grades are so incredibly important, you should be eating, breathing, and sleeping law school exam prep during 1L. But before you step foot in a law school classroom, do yourself a favor and add two more tasks to your 0L prep list. First, polish up your legal resume. Second, draft form cover letters for 1L summer positions you may be interested in. This will help save you the aggravation of balancing 1L exam prep with your job search.
P.P.S. If you want a behind the scenes look at what your first year of law school will be like, pick up a copy of 1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor’s Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School.