Here’s part 3, the final installment, of the top 10 law school success tips that I’ve collected over the years.
Tip #7: “My grades do not define me as a person.”
This should be your mantra during law school. I’ve heard this from almost every law student I’ve talked to. Your grades do not reflect what kind of person you are. They also do not reflect how much you know or how smart you are. Stay away from negative people who want to look “better” than you. Hold onto who you are as a person and as a human being. You cannot measure a person’s worth by their grades in school.
Tip #8: Ground yourself in a community outside of school.
So many law students have told me that the thing that helped them mentally and emotionally during law school was having some kind of community outside of school. It could be your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend, kids, relatives, mentors, friends who aren’t in law school, an organization you volunteer at regularly, etc. It should be a community that you feel comfortable in and that you interact with on a weekly basis. Your community will be a constant reminder of who you are as a person, not just as a law student.
Tip #9: Get practical legal experience and skills as soon as you can.
Many law students have admitted to me that law classes aren’t their favorite part of law school. What they really love is taking what they learned in class and putting it to use in the real world. The sooner you can get involved in a clinic, internship, or moot court where you can learn and develop real-world legal skills, the better.
Tip #10: Rage against the machine!
One of my clients was 15 years older than most of his classmates when he started law school. He had a wife and child and years of experience working in different jobs. It had been a long, winding road to get to law school and he didn’t take any of it for granted. He gave me this honest piece of advice to pass on to my students.
There is a “machine” in law school and it’s very hard to resist. The machine wants you to get high grades, get a job with a big firm, make lots of money, and make your law school look good. The machine wants you to believe that this is the only way to be successful.
Rage against the machine! Remind yourself of what you really want in life.
Do not let the machine dictate to you what kind of lawyer you should be, who you should work for, or what success means. You, and only you, can decide this.
Last but not least, the META TIP: Safeguard your reputation at all times.
From the first day you step into law school, to every day that you go to work, to the evenings when you’re kicking back with colleagues at a happy hour: act with professionalism at all times. Some law students and graduates forget this and they make careless mistakes that can cost them their reputation for years to come. Avoid this by treating yourself and others with respect all day and every day.
Hope these tips help you in your journey through law school and beyond. Good luck!
If you found these tips helpful, make sure to read Part 1 and Part 2.